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Characteristics of people are considered as a reason for their inclusion or exclusion by social groups upon time periods, conditions, societies etc. In other words persons are subjected to positive or negative attitudes because of their physical, mental, emotional or cultural differences.


Expressions, definitions and/or aproaches have been discussed to explain the relationship between characteristics of individuals and attitudes such as racism, Islamafobia, social or medical aproaches. Somehow those of definitions or aproaches all tackle with problems and propose solutions for them. Moreover solutions including plans, programmes, budgets and/or services differ due to how to define problems.


One of the factors causing exclusion has been disability in all societies for thousands of years.


During Old Age, Spartans had been abandoning children with disabilities in a special baskets in forests on the mountains. Chinese had been recognizing persons with blindness as necromantic at that time. Romans had been employing male with blindness to row out in ships and employing female with blindness in prostitution.


In early Islamic period attitudes towards people with disabilities were ameliorated for a short term. For example, all types of disabilities were tackled and sone of the persons with disabilities were employed as administrater, some of them were employed as grind or some had chosen to be merchant.


In the first half of the 20th century many people with disabilities were killed for the sake of eugenics in Germany, Canada, United States Of America etc.


In the second half of the 20th century solutions and problems of the people with disabilities were tackled in different aproaches resulting mostly from decisions, resolutions and recommandations  of international organizations by activists, politicians, scientists or human rights defenders. (UN Disability standard rules) In addition to these, at national level some of the countries made laws for their citizens with disabilities for instance Americans with Disabilities act.


Developments in the field of disability in the second half of 20th century influenced perceptions of indivituals with or without disabilities and exalted their social status throughout world more or less.


Changes in perception of intividuals and social status caused development of services and products provided by either public, private or nongovernmental organizations. Such as Education system, softwares or hardwares, adjustments of physical environments...


In spite of all these development, today neither physical, social systems nor paradigm of members of societies are sufficient to provide conditions to the people with disabilities to realize their potential as much as they require. Therefore  negative attitudes of members of families, decision makers, education staff, local authorities with whom person with disability lives together have to be transformed in to the positive attitudes which are going to provide necessary conditions for realization of potential of individuals with disabilities.




Legal definitions of disability have been an issue of much debate in Europe and around the globe. Despite the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) which resulted in the new International Classification of Functioning (ICF), there is no universal international legal definition of disability, nor is there one in any European Union (EU) country. A recent study of the definitions of disability in various EU countries has shown variations not only from country to country, but also within each country. While there are similarities among the definitions of disability in some areas of social policy, legal disability definitions in each country differ with respect to income maintenance, employment measures or social assistance with daily life activities.


While legal definitions of other categories such as sex, ethnic background, or sexual orientation also raise questions of demarcation disability is even harder to define because it encompasses numerous conditions of mind and body, and the boundary between ability and disability seems to be less clear. Well-known examples are visual and hearing conditions. When does a visual limitation constitute an impairment? When do we call a person who is hard of hearing a disabled person? In addition, definitions of disability change according to developments in medical science. New impairments emerge with new medical developments and discoveries. Genetic dispositions to certain diseases are recent examples.


Legal definitions of disability vary also in relation to different legal purposes. A social welfare law providing personal assistance benefits, for example, may have a different target group of disabled persons than a discrimination law. The distribution of social benefits has to be needs-based in order to be rational. Equal treatment as a right, not a benefit, should not be offered only to those in need but to all persons potentially affected by discrimination. From a theoretical perspective, disability definitions are challenged by the debate on what causes disability: medical conditions, environmental factors, social structures and/or individual or collective behaviors and attitudes. This debate about the medical (individual) vs. social model of disability has had a large impact on European disability policy because it has led to the paradigm shift from charity-based to rights-based disability policy and it has helped in understanding disability as a social construct. (1)


United Nations – UN


According to the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons which was adopted on 9 th December 1975; the term "disabled person" means any person unable to ensure by himself or herself, wholly or partly, the necessities of a normal individual and/or social life, as a result of deficiency, either congenital or not, in his or her physical or mental capabilities. (2)


Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was adopted on 13 December 2006 aims to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. In this Convention it is mentined that “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” (3)


Possible Definition of “Disability”: Discussion Text Suggested by the Chair was; “Disability” results from the interaction between persons with impairments, conditions or illnesses and the environmental and attitudinal barriers they face. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent, temporary, intermittent or imputed, and include those that are physical, sensory, psychosocial, neurological, medical or intellectual. (4)


World Health Organization - WHO


World Health Organization in 1976, which draws a three–fold distinction between impairment, disability and handicap. ‘An impairment is any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function, a disability is any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being, a handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or a disability, that prevents the fulfillment of a role that is considered normal (depending on age, sex and social and cultural factors) for that individual’. (5)


The way disability is defined and understood has also changed in the last decade. Disability was once assumed as a way to characterize a particular set of largely stable limitations. Now the World Health Organization (WHO) has moved toward a new international classification system, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF 2001). It emphasizes functional status over diagnoses. The new system is not just about people with traditionally acknowledged disabilities diagnostically categorized but about all people. For the first time, the ICF also calls for the elimination of distinctions, explicitly or implicitly, between health conditions that are 'mental' or 'physical.' (5)


The new ICF focuses on analyzing the relationship between capacity and performance. If capacity is greater than performance then that gap should be addressed through both removing barriers and identifying facilitators. The new WHO ICF specifically references Universal Design as a central concept that can serve to identify facilitators that can benefit all people. (5)


The WHO defines disability as a contextual variable, dynamic over time and in relation to circumstances. One is more or less disabled based on the interaction between the person and the individual, institutional and social environments. The ICF also acknowledges that the prevalence of disability corresponds to social and economic status. The 2001 ICF provides a platform that supports Universal Design as an international priority for reducing the experience of disability and enhancing everyone's experience and performance. (5)


The Council of Europe - CoE


There is no uniform definition of “disability” in Europe. Definitions vary across and within member states depending on the purpose of the definition. As a consequences, there are no reliable statistics on the number of disabled people in Europe. Countries with a narrow definition report a disability rate of 2 % of the population, countries with a broad definition of disability report a rate of up to 25 % of the population. The World Health Organisation made a health-based estimate that 10 % of the world’s population has a disability. According to a recent EU household panel, 15 % of the population in EU member states has a disability. (6)


Whatever the percentage may be, we know that it does not affect the population evenly but that it increases with age. While only 0.5 % of 0–2 year olds have a disability, the rate increases to about 60 % amongst the population aged 60+ and to 80 % amongst the population aged 80+. There have been fairly accurate estimates on the reasons for disability. Only 5 % of disabilities are congenital and almost 90 % are caused by diseases, accidents or armed conflicts. (6)


Disability is a matter of perception and also a matter of attitude. In other words, while we are all at considerable risk of suffering a functional impairment at one point in our life, the degree of our disability will not be determined by our medical condition, but rather by the way we will be seen and treated by society. (6)


This approach has led to a policy shift in Europe from a medical model to a social and human rights-based model: from the patient to the citizen. The bottom line is that people with disabilities have the same rights as non-disabled persons and discrimination on the grounds of disability should be prohibited.


That is the policy, but in reality, people with disabilities still have difficulties in accessing and fully enjoying their rights due to various barriers and obstacles in society - some of these barriers are physical or technical, but most of them are attitudinal. (6)


The first hurdle is to turn well-intended principles into tangible improvements. That means, for example, that people with disabilities also have the right to live in their local community rather than in a large residential institution and that children with disabilities have the right to live with their families in their community rather than in such large residential institutions. (6)


To help the member states to implement these and other policy objectives, the Council of Europe has prepared a Disability Action Plan 2006–2015 which we are launching at the conference in St Petersburg.

The Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006–2015 covers all key areas of the life of people with disabilities. Its 15 action lines, extending from the participation in political and public life, to education, health care and awareness-raising, to mention just a few, set out key objectives and specific actions to be implemented by member states. (6)


The Action Plan pays particular attention to people with disabilities who face specific barriers or experience two-fold discrimination, such as children and young people with disabilities, women and girls with disabilities, people with disabilities in need of a high level of support, ageing people with disabilities and people with disabilities from minorities and migrant communities. They have a higher risk of exclusion and generally have lower levels of participation in society than other disabled people. These specific groups of people with disabilities require a horizontal response to ensure their inclusion in society. The Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006–2015 calls upon policy makers to initiate cross-cutting actions to ensure that individuals can reach their full potential, enjoy their rights and participate fully in society. (6)


European Union - EU


Legal definitions of disability have been an issue of much debate in Europe and around the globe. Despite the efforts of the World Health Organisation which resulted in the new ICF, there is no international universal legal definition of disability, neither is there one in any EU country. A recent study on definitions of disability in various EU countries has shown that disability definitions vary from country to country but also inside each country. While there are similarities between the definitions of disabilities in some areas of social policy, legal disability definitions in each country differs with respect to income maintenance, employment measures or social assistance with daily life activities (7).


While legal definitions of other categories, such as sex, ethnic backgrounds, or sexual orientation also raise questions of demarcation, disability is even harder to define because it encompasses numerous conditions of mind and body and the boundary between ability and disability seems to be less clear. Well-known examples are visual and hearing conditions. When does a visual limitation constitute an impairment? When do we call a person who is hard of hearing a disabled person? In addition, definitions of disability change according to developments in medical science. New disabilities emerge with new medical developments and discoveries. Genetic dispositions to certain diseases are recent examples. (7)


Legal definitions of disability vary also in  relation to different legal purposes. A social welfare law providing personal assistance benefits may have a different target group of disabled persons than a discrimination law. The distribution of social benefits has to be needs-based in order to be rational. Equal treatment as a right not a benefit should not be offered only to those in need but to all persons potentially effected by discrimination. (7)


From a theoretical perspective disability definitions are challenged by the debate on what causes disability: medical conditions, environmental factors, social structures and/or individual or collective behaviors and attitudes. This debate about medical (individual) vs. social model of disability has had a large impact on European disability policy because it has led to the paradigm shift from charity-based to rights-based disability policy and it has helped to understand disability as a social construct. (7)


International Labour Organisation - ILO


The Convention (No. 159) concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons), adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation on 20 June 1983 defines persons with disability in Article 1 as, “the term disabled person means an individual whose prospects of securing, retaining and advancing in suitable employment are substantially reduced as a result of a duly recognised physical or mental impairment.” (8)


The ILO:

- agrees that, if disability is to be defined in the Convention, the definition should reflect the social dimensions of disability.

- while recognizing the diversity of definitions of disability used in national legislation and policy throughout the world, and the achievement of the World Health Organization in promoting a standardized classification for the purposes of diagnosis, is concerned that the ambit of the convention may be limited if disability is defined specifically.

- suggests that, rather than including a definition of disability, the Convention should include a definition of a disabled person, as is the practice in ILO international labour standards concerning persons with disabilities. (9)


The ILO Code of Practice on Managing Disability in the Workplace agreed by a Committee of Experts comprising 27 government, employer and trade union representatives from developing and industrialized countries defines a disabled person as: “...an individual whose prospects of securing, retaining and advancing in suitable employment are substantially reduced as a result of a duly recognized physical, sensory, intellectual or mental impairment”. This definition has proven to be universally acceptable, in the context of vocational rehabilitation, vocational training and employment, while allowing for variation in national interpretations of disability. While dealing specifically with employment, the ILO suggests this definition could form the basis of a more generally applicable definition for the purposes of the proposed UN Convention. The use of such a definition in the Convention would offer scope to national authorities to define disability and disabled persons according to the needs of national policy and legislation and in conformity with national practice and understanding. (9)


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD


A person with a disability is a person who is limited in the kind or amount of activities that he or she can do because of on-going difficulties due to a long-term physical condition, mental condition or health problem. Short-term disabilities due to temporary conditions such as broken legs and illnesses are excluded. Only disabilities lasting for more than six months should be included. (10)


Definitions of Disability in Laws in various countries


United States of America: The definition of disability set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) does not distinguish between type, severity, or duration of the disability. It states: “The term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual –

a. a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;

b. a record of such impairment; or

c. being regarded as having such an impairment.” (P.L. 101-336, Sec. ) (11)


Turkish Republic: In Turkey, The Law On Disabled People And On Making Amendments In Some Laws And Decree Laws (5378) of 2005, defines person with disability as the person who has difficulties in adapting to the social life and in meeting daily needs due to the loss of physical, mental, psychological, sensory and social capabilities at various levels by birth or by any reason thereafter and who therefore need protection, care, rehabilitation, consultancy and support services. (12)


The objective of this Law is to prevent disability, to enable the disabled people to join the society by taking measures which will provide the solution of their problems regarding health, education, rehabilitation, employment, care and social security and the removal of the obstacles they face and to make the necessary arrangements for the coordination of these services. (12)


Germany: In Germany, the legislators decided to transpose the Framework Directive within the context of the new rehabilitation law, which came into force in 2001. The Ninth Book of the Social Law Code (SGB IX) encompasses a prohibition for all employers to discriminate against severely disabled employees (§ 81 (2) SGB IX). According to § 2 SGB IX persons are disabled if their physical functions, mental capacities or psychological health are highly likely to deviate for more than six months from the condition which is typical for the respective age and whose participation in the life of society is therefore restricted. Severely disabled are persons whose degree of disability is at least 50 % and who either lawfully stay in Germany, have their ordinary (legal) residence or (legally) work in Germany. (§ 2 (2) SGB IX) The percentage of a given disability is determined according to a list of impairments and diseases16 and according to guidelines prepared by a group of medical and legal experts.25 (1)


Ireland: In Ireland, disability discrimination is prohibited by two laws which are not disability specific, but cover several grounds. Employment discrimination is prohibited by the Employment Equality Act of 1998. Section 2(1) of the Act defines: ‘disability means-

(a) the total or partial absence of a person’s bodily or mental functions, including the absence of a part of a person’s body

(b) the presence, in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness,

(c) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person’s body

(d) a condition or malfunction which results in a person learning differently from a person without the condition or malfunction, or

(e) a condition, illness or disease which affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behavior, and shall be taken to include a disability which exists at present, or which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person. (13)


Sweden: In Sweden a disability-specific law against employment discrimination was adopted in 1999. The “Prohibition of Discrimination in Working Life of People With Disability Act (Lag 1999:132). § 2 of the Act contains a short definition: Disability means every permanent physical, mental or intellectual limitation of a person’s functional capacity that is a consequence of an injury or illness that existed at birth, arose thereafter or may be expected to arise. (13)


United Kingdom: In the United Kingdom, employment discrimination against disabled persons is prohibited by the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 (DDA) of which Section 1 provides: a person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. A long term- effect is considered to be a period of twelve months at least. Section 2 (1) provides: The provisions of this Part and Parts II and III apply in relation to a person who has had a disability as they apply in relation to a person who has that disability. (13)


People’s Republic of China: In China, a person with disability is defined as “a person who has lost all or part of his/her ability to perform normal activities due to loss or impairment of psychological or physiological functions.” (14)


New Zealand: In New Zealand disability is defined in a variety of laws. The Building Act 1991 defines a person with a disability as any person who suffers from physical or mental disability to such a degree that he or she is seriously limited in the extent to which he or she can engage in the activities, pursuits and processes of everyday life. Earlier legislation such as the Maori Affairs Act 1953 and the Judicature Act 1908 refers to people as disabled if they are of unsound mind or physically or mentally infirm and unable to manage their own affairs - effectively illustrating the patronising approach typical of a medical model of disability. (15)




Throughout the world, individuals with disabilities are confronted with significant barriers to their fundamental human rights. They experience stigma, societal prejudice and they suffer many different forms of exclusion from society be it economic, cultural or political. (16)


Our modern society fortifies the binary systems of able/disabled or normal/abnormal. Disability is seen as a macrobiotic problem to be “cured” - it is a medically-based perception and the social assembly of these views results in cultural representations of “the other”. Even children with disabilities face these binary systems regardless of their young age. (16)


The different conceptual models that are used to understand and to explain disability can help us to change the binary systems as well as the representations of “the other” in our society. We may see the expressions of these models within a dialectic continuum of “medical model” versus “social model”. The medical model describes disability “as a problem of the person, directly caused by disease, trauma health-related condition, which requires medical care provided in the form of individual treatment by professionals”. Within the medical model, disability is seen as an macrobiotic problem to be “cured”.

On the other hand, the social model describes disability “not as an attribute of an individual, but rather as a complex collection of conditions, many of which were created by the social environment”. Therefore, disability is seen as a socially created problem. Possible consequences of this socially created problem are oppression, stigmatisation and/or exclusion for all individuals with disabilities. (16)


Are the stated models sufficient to explain disability and to overcome oppression, stigmatisation and/or exclusion? Again thinking of children with disabilities who have the right to education, is it possible to create “barrier-free”, learning-friendly and accessible environments in every school so that children will have the opportunities to reach their academic, social, emotional and physical potentials? (16)


To answer these questions, a new approach is necessary. This new model should integrate the “medical model” and the “social model”. The WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) uses a “bio psychosocial model” to classify functioning and disability in an interactive process. According to the ICF, disability is defined as “the outcome or result of a complex relationship between an individual’s health condition and personal factors, and of the external factors that represent the circumstances in which the individuals lives”.6 Additionally, the WHO initiated International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth (ICF-CY) which is derived from the ICF. ICF-CY emphasises key issues such as the developing child in the context of the family, developmental delay, nature of cognition, language, play and behavior. ICF and ICF-CY both describe the situation of each individual (child, youth and adult) “within the context of environmental and personal factors” rather than only classify each individual according to his/her health or health-related conditions. (16)


Therefore, environmental factors as well as personal factors are important in understanding disabling conditions. We all know that every child is unique and different and we also know that children with disabilities are not a homogenous group. Just like their non-disabled peers, children with disabilities have individual needs and experience different barriers. The “bio psychosocial model” helps us to see that children with disabilities have different abilities, learn in different ways and at different paces depending on their environmental factors (such as access to early identification and intervention programmes, legal and regulatory systems; inclusive school and classroom environments, supportive family environment) as well as on their personal factors (such as low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and motivation). Overall, this model integrates the human rights perspective and positions itself against any form of discrimination. (16)


International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)


The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF, is a classification of health and health-related domains. These domains are classified from body, individual and societal perspectives by means of two lists: a list of body functions and structure, and a list of domains of activity and participation. Since an individual’s functioning and disability occurs in a context, the ICF also includes a list of environmental factors. (17)


This classification was first created in 1980 and then called the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities, and Handicaps, or ICIDH (17)  by WHO to provide a unifying framework for classifying the health components of functioning and disability. (17)


The ICF is WHO's framework for measuring health and disability at both individual and population levels. The ICF was officially endorsed by all 191 WHO Member States in the Fifty-fourth World Health Assembly on 22 May 2001(resolution WHA 54.21). Unlike its predecessor, which was endorsed for field trail purposes only, the ICF was endorsed for use in Member States as the international standard to describe and measure health and disability. (17)


The ICF puts the notions of ‘health’ and ‘disability’ in a new light. It acknowledges that every human being can experience a decrement in health and thereby experience some degree of disability. Disability is not something that only happens to a minority of humanity. The ICF thus ‘mainstreams’ the experience of disability and recognises it as a universal human experience. By shifting the focus from cause to impact it places all health conditions on an equal footing allowing them to be compared using a common metric – the ruler of health and disability. Furthermore ICF takes into account the social aspects of disability and does not see disability only as a 'medical' or 'biological' dysfunction. By including Contextual Factors, in which environmental factors are listed ICF allows to records the impact of the environment on the person's functioning. (17)


ICF Application Areas: Implementation of the ICF started in 2001 with the unanimous endorsement of the classification by the 54th World Health Assembly as the framework for describing and measuring health and disability. Since then, ICF has been applied in a variety of settings at national and international level. (17)


International and national health and disability reporting: ICF based health and disability surveys have been conducted at national and international level. In WHO the ICF framework has been used in the Multi-Country Survey Study in 2000/2001 and the World Health Survey Program in 2002/2003 to measure health status of the general population in 71 countries. From this data WHO and selected Members States are currently generating population norms for selected ICF domains and disability prevalence rates. At regional level UNSD, UNESCWA and UNESCAP in collaboration with WHO implemented a series of workshops for African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries to improve disability statistics using the ICF framework. At national level ICF based data sets and questionnaires are currently used in a number of countries including Australia, Irland, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Malawi. Several countries started the process of streamlining ICF in their health & social information standards and legislation. Development and piloting of ICF based indicators and reporting systems for use in rehabilitation, home-care, age-care, disability evaluation are ongoing in Australia, Canada, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico. (17)






The right to education is universal and should extend to all children, youth, and adults with disabilities. This right is enforced in the conventions as well as in several significant, internationally approved declarations such as the World Declaration for Education for All (1990), the UNESCO Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action (1994), the Dakar Framework for Action (2000) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) as well as in relevant instruments of the Council of Europe, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and revised European Social Charter, and the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015. (16)


Inclusive education includes four pillars of education for the 21st century: “learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together”. Therefore, inclusive education should include teachers, students, parents, guardians and society in general as well as methodologies, curricula, textbooks, materials. The advantage of inclusion is that it allows children with disabilities to become more integrated into their local communities and to get to know other children, who in turn learn how to relate to them and see them as children first and foremost. Another advantage is that the care, services and support made available to children with disabilities can be evaluated using criteria that are relevant for all children. (16)


It is hard to calculate the cost of inclusive education for children with disabilities. However, the cost of providing special educational services in separate settings such as special schools for children with disabilities is about 2 to 4 times higher than the cost of providing regular education for children who do not need these services. Based on this estimate, the cost of inclusive education would be higher but still lower than in separate/special settings. In addition, inclusive education is not only cost-efficient but also cost-effective and “equity is way to excellence”. (16)


To make inclusive education work, mainstream professionals in education, health and social care services should indeed receive additional training and assistance from local centres of excellence to equip them to work with children with disabilities, and to support their work with the specific needs of these children. These services should incorporate a range of personalised support to assist disabled children so that they can aim for the same kind of life and aspirations as their peer group, as they are entitled to growing independence, autonomy, age-appropriate possessions, and assistive technology, especially with regard to mobility and communication, in accordance with their needs. (16)


If the goal is to guarantee the right to education for children with disabilities within the framework of “inclusive education for all”, It will only be accomplished under certain conditions as set out in the draft resolution. (16)


To conclude; a diverse population of children and young people in schools will produce schools which are more sensitive and more people-oriented. And it will produce a younger generation which is more tolerant and accepting of difference”.With inclusive education, this is possible. Moreover, inclusive education guarantees the right to education for all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, emotional, cultural or other conditions. (16)




Employment is a key element for the social inclusion and economic independence of all citizens of working age. Compared to non-disabled persons, the employment and activity rates of disabled people are very low. Policies to increase the activity rate need to be diversified – according to the employment potential of disabled people – and comprehensive, in order to address all the barriers to participation in the workforce. Improving the employment situation of disabled people would not only benefit the disabled persons but also employers and society as a whole. (18)


Vocational guidance and assistance play an important role in helping people to identify activities for which they are best suited and to guide training needs or future occupation. It is vital that people with disabilities have access to assessments, vocational guidance and training to ensure they can attain their potential. (18)


It is needed:

- to promote the employment of people with disabilities within the open labour market by combining anti-discrimination and positive action measures in order to ensure that people with disabilities have equality of opportunity;

- to tackle discrimination and promote participation of people with disabilities in vocational assessment, guidance, training, and employment-related services. (18)


Partıcıpatıon In Cultural Life


The right of people with disabilities as individuals to be fully integrated into society is dependent on them being able to participate in the cultural life of that society. If people with disabilities are to remain or become independent they must have as complete a life as possible interacting with other members of society, be they disabled or non-disabled people. They have the right to participate in culture, leisure, sport and tourism. (18)


There is no easy route to attaining this goal. Various means can be pursued but it may ultimately require enactment of specific legislation. This should reflect the concept of “reasonable adjustment” especially in the context of access to older buildings or historic monuments and smaller private business premises. It will also require the diversity of society to be fully reflected in broadcasting media. (18)


It is needed:


- To take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can access local, regional and national cultural life;

- to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in cultural, recreational, leisure, sporting, spiritual and social activities, both as observers and as actors;

- to work to ensure that people with disabilities can develop and utilise their creative, athletic, artistic, spiritual and intellectual potential for their own benefit and that of their communities. (18)


Participation In Political Life


The participation of all citizens in political and public life and the democratic process is essential for the development of democratic societies. Society needs to reflect the diversity of its citizens and benefit from their varied experience and knowledge. It is therefore important that people with disabilities can exercise their rights to vote and to participate in such activities. (18)


Efforts must be made to create the environment where people with disabilities are encouraged and are able to participate in politics at local, regional, national and international levels. This can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone can enjoy their political rights. (18)


It is noted that women and young people with disabilities generally account for a small proportion of those occupying representative functions. It is important that they are also encouraged to participate and included in representative groups. (18)


In order to guarantee the political rights of persons with disabilities and to facilitate equal access in political life, these obstacles should be brought into concern in all aspects and reasonable adjustments should be made. Persons with disabilities themselves should be active in all processes of democratic life at all levels, local, regional, national and international on an equal basis with others. (18)


Here are some problems that people with disabilities have to encounter on using the right to vote and to stand for election.


-     Before an election or referendum, training need for all the staff on accessibility and awareness of special needs.

-     Inaccessibility and inappropriateness of voting process (procedures and facilities)

-     Polling stations are inaccessible to people with disabilities

·        People with orthopedical disability or wheelchair users are obliged to vote in upper floors as polling stations are not designed for them (absence of ramps or lifts).

·        Stations are insufficient for disabled people to move around in it easily.

·        Proximity of polling stations to public transport and parking facilities for accessibility

·        For people who couldn’t go out of home because of disability or illness, there is not option of voting at home.


-     People with disabilities face with problems in using vote equipment.

·        There are no large print materials or sufficient lighting for voters with sight problems, special materials for blind voters (ballots similar to slide rules or like Braille ballots).

·        For deaf and hard of hearing voters there is no sign-language interpretation support or materials like DVD/CD with open- and closed-captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Moreover there is no sign-language interpreter services on request.

·        Using the technology for accessibility is inadequate and not applicable.

·        There isn’t enough documents written specifically for persons with disabilities and/or special needs on election procedures and process.


-     Inaccessibility and inappropriateness of the materials that are used inpolitical decision making process

·        Need of brochures of political parties, voting manuals and easy to read documents for voters with disabilities.

·        Motions, amendments, regulations written for politicians with disabilities. (in Braille, sign language materials etc.)


-     Problems that are faced during the process of being the member of a political party

·        In transportation

·        In working process

·        Entering meetings

·        Voting in plenary sessions


Objectives should be:


- to actively promote an environment where people with disabilities can participate on an equal footing in political parties and civil society;

- to increase the participation of people with disabilities in political and public life at all levels, local, regional, national and international, in order to fully represent the diverse nature of society;

- to work to encourage the participation of women and young people with disabilities, as well as those in need of a high level of support, in the political arena at all levels;

- to ensure that people with disabilities and their representative organisations are consulted and have a role to play in determining policies for people with disabilities. (18)




In the world there are people with disabilities who face specific barriers or experience two-fold discrimination. These people have a higher risk of exclusion and generally experience lower levels of participation in society. As such, policy makers need to ensure that their inclusion policies and strategies take into account the needs of specific groups of people with disabilities to ensure their participation in society. (18)


The Malaga Declaration highlights two such groups to be considered throughout this Action Plan – women with disabilities and persons in need of a high level of support. The reports of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women with Disabilities and Persons in Need of a High Level of Support analysed the particular factors unique to these groups and proposed specific actions which cut across many action lines, including independent living, education, employment, etc. (18)


Other groups which require a cross-cutting response include children with disabilities and ageing persons with disabilities, people with disabilities from minorities (for example Roma, migrants, refugees, displaced persons, or other ethnic, cultural or linguistic minorities). Policy makers need to acknowledge the barriers and challenges faced by each of these groups and ensure that their policies are equipped to remove those barriers and ensure that individuals can reach their full potential alongside other citizens. (18)


1. Women and girls with disabilities: Women and girls with disabilities can and often do face multiple obstacles to participation in society due to two-fold discrimination, namely on grounds of both gender and disability. Although the general situation of people with disabilities has significantly improved, the benefits of such changes in society are not always equally distributed between women with disabilities and men with disabilities.


The development and implementation of relevant policies and implementation measures should be designed so as to ensure a balance of opportunities between disabled men and women. The specific situation of women and girls with disabilities needs to be taken into account in the development of both disability and gender mainstream policies and programmes at all levels, namely international, national, regional and local.


Action is required to remove obstacles which prevent women with disabilities from enjoying their rights on the same basis as men and other women. This action extends across a broad range of areas including relationships, parenthood, family life, sexuality and protection from violence and abuse. It also includes measures to ensure equal opportunities to participate in political and public life, education, training, employment and social and cultural life. Many of these policy areas are covered by action lines in this Action Plan but must be considered in terms of how factors affecting the participation of women and girls with disabilities can be addressed by member states. (18)


2. People with disabilities in need of high level of support: One of the more vulnerable groups of people with disabilities is the group of individuals with disabilities who, due to the severity and complex nature of their impairment, require a high level of support. Their quality of life is very much dependent on the availability of appropriate and quality services that respond to their and their families’ needs to facilitate their participation in society to the greatest extent possible, rather than a replica of services provided to persons with disabilities generally.


This group tends to be the most likely group to be living in institutional settings or in some cases living with their family but may experience isolation due to little or no contact with service provision and other members of society. For these reasons people of this group require intensive and permanent quality services geared to their specific needs.


Delivery provision needs to be strengthened in order to respond without departing from a model of community based services and equitable access to mainstream provision. Member states need to recognise that this requires intensive planning and co-ordination across relevant authorities, government agencies and service providers both at national and local levels. (18)


3. Children and young people with disabilities: The Convention on the Rights of the Child is based on four fundamental principles – the child’s right not be discriminated against; the best interests of the child to be considered in all decisions; the child’s right to life and development; and the right to express its opinion. Boys and girls with disabilities also have the right to access these same rights, member states need to build knowledge about their needs to inform planning, decisions and practices across a wide spectrum of policy areas.


The needs of children with disabilities and their families must be carefully assessed by responsible authorities with a view to providing measures of support which enable children to grow up with their families, to be included in the community and local children’s life and activities. Children with disabilities need to receive education to enrich their lives and enable them to reach their maximum potential.


Quality service provision and family support structures can ensure a rich and developing childhood and lay the foundation for a participative and independent adult life. It is important therefore that policy makers take into account the needs of children with disabilities and their families when designing disability policies and mainstream policies for children and families.


Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society. Youth disability organisations should be consulted in the preparation of youth policy and programmes. The voices of young people with disabilities should be heard in all matters which concern them.


Young people with disabilities still face considerable barriers in accessing all aspects of their life: education, work, sports, culture, entertainment, and community life. These issues can only be addressed on the basis of a comprehensive strategy. Ways to ensuring their full participation in society, taking into account their specific needs, must be addressed in the preparation of any youth policy. In accordance with the European Charter on the participation of young people in local and regional life, the active participation of young people in decisions and actions at local and regional level is essential for building more democratic, inclusive and prosperous societies. (18)


4. Ageing of people with disabilities: The ageing of people with disabilities, particularly those requiring more intensive support due to the nature of their impairment, presents new challenges for societies across Europe. This includes support for individuals and for their families especially where elderly parents are the main carers. Innovative approaches are required to meet these challenges across a wide range of policy and service areas. Council of Europe reports identify key issues for this group and proposals for the way forward. Co-ordinated action which can respond to specific needs with the aim of enabling ageing people with disabilities to remain in their community to the greatest extent possible. This requires an assessment of individual needs and forward planning as well as the availability of required services. Disability issues should also be taken into account when designing policies for older people.


It is considered that these issues and factors affecting the participation of ageing people with disabilities in daily life and activities should be taken into account when devising actions across the action lines set out in this Action Plan. (18)


5. People with disabilities from minorities and migrants: People with disabilities from minority groups, disabled migrants and refugees may experience multiple disadvantages because of discrimination or lack of familiarity with public services.


As an example, despite increased attention paid to Roma in Europe, further action is needed to recognise their status as full and equal members of society. Inside their own community, disabled people are considered as invisible and are therefore a specifically vulnerable group.


Education, employment, social health services and cultural life are particularly important areas to address for all groups.


Member states should ensure that support for people with disabilities takes account of their language or cultural background and the particular needs of such minority groups. (18)




Although the problems of people with disabilities seem very complicated, we can categorize them into 3 sections. We can call this categorization The Theory of NUB.  This theory explains the reasons of  the problems and difficulties which people with disabilities have to cope with.

1.     Non inclusive system: The world is designed for specific human beings; middle sized, aproximately 140-190 centimeters in height, 40-110 kilos in weight, right handed and one who enjoys eating salty and well sugared things. And of course for  human beings who have healthy organs. The ones who don't have these specifics; have to cope with some problems in their life. For example cameras, musical instruments, gearing and control systems of cars are all desinged for right handed people. If you are left handed you have trouble with using chairs in seminar rooms. People with disabilities are faced with difficulties just because of nearly the same reasons; because they have some disability in using some of their organs. The solution is organizing inclusive and cohesive systems for effective inclusion of people with disabilities.


2.     Unable person approach of the society: For example there is person called Mehmet in this room. Mr. Mehmet thinks that Lokman is disabled and unable to carry out anything. This thought doesn't affect me because I don't care about his thoughts. But lets say I'm a child and Mr Mehmet believes that blind people can not benefit from education. As a result of this belief he will not let me go to school. Lets say Mr Mehmet is a director of a school. Does he accept me to the school? Or lets say he is a father. Does he let me marry his daughter? Ofcourse not. If a mayor thinks that disabled people are unable to go out he does not make the pavements for disabled. If a university president or dean  thinks that disabled people cannot benefit from education, he does not take educational precautions. If a president thinks that disabled can not take place in political life, he does not nominate a disabled candidate. This is a real event that I am going to tell you now which occured recently. A retired policeman killed his disabled son and then himself. Why did he take such a dramatic action? Maybe because of becoming anxious about what would happen to his son when he, himself died. Maybe he felt himself desperate, tired and helpless.


3.     Becoming inured to desperation: The person with a disability, him or herself is the base of  this problem. For example; there is an experiment in psychological studies where scientists perform an experiment with a flea. They get a flea and make it jump. When the scientists measure the height of the distance that flea jumps they see that it is 70 centimeters. Then they put the flea into a bottle of 25 centimeters length and close the bottle. The flea hits the cover of the bottle every time he jumps and begins to jump to a shorter height in order not to hit the cover. This means that it can only   jump about 24 centimeters. Afterwards scientists open the cover and make the flea jump again. But they realize that the flea is now able to jump only 24 centimeters. This is becoming inured to desperation. When we deal with this subject in this point of view, we can say habitual desperation is one of the fundamental causes of the main problems of the poeple with disabilities.  


The Attitudes of  the people without disabilities around the people with disabilities have great importance. These attitudes can be devastating for the disabled or just the contrary can be helpful to them to have a great success in life. The  point of view and the way of thinking of a person are determining causes of the behaviors and attitudes towards the disabled people. As a result, it is really important to change the point of view to disability.





These attitudes and examples mentioned above in the Vth part are all indicators among the concept of social cohesion. COE puts a great deal of imortance on the subject of social cohesion. The duty of the european committee for social cohesion (cdcs) is implementing and developing the strategy for social cohesion. The strategy for social cohesion (2000 and 2004 revised) and Action Plan approved by Warsaw Summit 2005, opens a gateway for COE to act on this subject. The social cohesion indicators allows this time period to be used efficiently.


By developing the capacity of the society it can be possible for the disabled to access the rights and participate actively to social life and to improve the quality of their life. So; prepared action plans, existing strategies need to aim at whole society. 


Nevertheless, it is actually important to evaluate if these studies are reaching the determined goals or not. In order to achieve the objectives there should be an effective monitoring and evalution process. This committee is conducting a very important role for an effective monitoring and evaluation process. By the results of these works consequently it can be possible to arrange appropriate measures and precautions.




It is understood that physical and social systems in the world are all determinant factors for perceptions, life styles, realization of the potential of the individuals with or without disabilities. Negative or positive attitudes of the members of the societies are determinants for the persons as important as the first one is. The other constituent is the individuals with disability who determine to continue or discontinue the present situation preventing the realization of the potential of the persons with disabilities.


Persons with disabilities have to  enforce the changes in the physical and social systems to cover the needs of everyone and the negative attitudes of members of the societies to recognize the right to realize the potential of the persons with disabilities and provide necessory conditions to do it. Primary fields on which they are going to consantrate are education, employment, social, culturel and political lives.


As it is seen above, main bariers of the progress in the field of disability has been lifted by the changes in democratic values, human rights perspectives, improvement in technology and social approaches such as intercultural dialogue, all different all equal, education for all. At this time the organizations working for the people suffering because of the present systems in the world should be more active to reestablish and reshape the design of the world, systems in which everyone acts and definitions of humanity concerning concepts, status, relations.


In this context it can be suggested that key factors and fields of which changes can be realized and organizations through which enforce the changes should be determined at the national and international level. In addition to these, methods, programmes and action plans should proposed to the initiators and opinion leaders



1. Degener T.,  The Definition of Disability in German and Foreign Discrimination Law, Disability Studies Quarterly Spring 2006, Volume 26, No. 2, Copyright 2006 by the Society for Disability Studies, http://www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/696/873

2. Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/res3447.htm

3. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml

4. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7pddisability.htm

5. http://www.who.int/en/

6.   Speech by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe  “Improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe: accessibility, efficiency, innovation", http://www.coe.int/t/dc/press/news/20060921_disc_sga_disabled_EN.asp

7. Degener T., Definition of Disability-E.U. Network Of Experts On Disability Discrimination

8. Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons), adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation, http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/convde.pl?C159

9. . http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/wgdca3.htm

10. http://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=2046

11. http://www.ucp.org/ucp_channeldoc.cfm/1/13/12632/12632-12632/6184

12. 5378 Özürlüler ve Bazı Kanun ve Kanun Hükmünde Kararnamelerde Değişiklik Yapılması Hakkında Kanun, 2005

13. Quinn  G., Degener T.;  E.U. Network Of Experts On Disability Discrimination

Definition of Disability, National University of Ireland at Galway

14. Country Profile on Disability PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, March 2002, Japan International Cooperation Agency Planning and Evaluation Department

15.www.hrc.co.nz/...new/.../03-Sep-2007_11-25- 31_ DEFINITION_ OF_ DISABILITY_ IN_ THE_ HUMAN_ RIGHTS_ACT_1993.doc

16.  Ayva L., Guaranteeing the right to education for children with illnesses or disabilities – Rapport of Council of Europe 2010

17. http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/

18.http://www.coe.int/t/e/social_cohesion/soc-Sp/ integration/ 02_ Council_ of_ Europe_ Disability_ Action_Plan /




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