Public Defender’s Statement on Day of Persons with Disabilities
Day of Persons with Disabilities is marked on June 14 in Georgia. The aim of this day is to raise public awareness of people with disabilities and once again focus on the rights situation of these people.
Although some positive steps have been taken by the State in the recent period, full and effective protection of the rights of persons with disabilities is still problematic in the country.
Access to physical environment, information, means of communication and a variety of services remains a challenge for people with disabilities; Socio-economic support, relevant services and aids are also insufficient.
Proper involvement of persons/children with disabilities in the educational process remains problematic. It is necessary to take effective measures to ensure access to educational space, educational resources and process, as well as to timely mobilize a sufficient number of inclusive education specialists, including at the pre-school level.
Employment of persons with disabilities and realization of their right to work are connected with difficulties. Barriers to their employment are inaccessible environment and services, lack of formal education and discriminatory treatment by employers.
It is also problematic to guarantee the right to adequate housing and to fight against homelessness. Due to the insufficient efforts, the needs of people with disabilities are completely or partially ignored in the vast majority of social housing in the country. Problems include inaccessibility of the physical environment of the buildings, overcrowding, lack of support services.
Challenges at the municipal level include the introduction/strengthening of needs-based services, as well as participation of persons with disabilities in local councils for persons with disabilities and effective functioning of deliberative bodies.
Measures taken in the field of mental health are not enough. The number of community services and geographical coverage area have not increased significantly. A strategy for deinstitutionalization has not been developed yet. Deinstitutionalization of large institutions for persons with disabilities remains a challenge.
Transition to a fair system for granting disability status, which apart from medical factors, would focus on psychological and social factors, remains a challenge. The amount of the social package defined by the current model is not tailored to the individual needs of persons with disabilities and cannot meet even their minimal needs.
Public awareness of issues related to persons with disabilities is still low, which is reflected in incorrect terms and stereotypical views. The above promotes stigmatization of the group, creates barriers and prevents inclusion of people with disabilities in public life.
The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the State to take effective steps to ensure the proper realization of the rights of persons with disabilities in the country, to raise public awareness and to establish an inclusive society.