World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons - part 2

Proposals for the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons


The objectives of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons are to promote effective measures for prevention of disability, rehabilitation and the realization of the goals of ”full participation” of disabled persons in social life and development, and of “equality”. In implementing the World Programme due regard has to be paid to the special situation of developing countries and, in particular, of the least developed countries. The immensity of the task of improving living conditions for the whole population and the general scarcity of resources make the attainment of the objectives of the Programme much more difficult in these countries. At the same time, it should be recognized that the implementation of the World Programme of Action in itself will make a contribution to the development process through the mobilization of all human resources and the full participation of the entire population. Though some countries may already have initiated or carried out some of the actions recommended in this Programme, more needs to be done. This applies also to countries with a high general standard of living.

Since the situation of the disabled is closely connected with overall development at the national level, the solution of problems in developing countries depends to a very large extent on the creation of adequate international conditions for faster social and economic development. Accordingly, the establishment of a new international economic order is of direct relevance to the implementation of the objectives of the Programme It is particularly essential that the flow of resources to developing countries be substantially increased, as agreed upon in the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade.

The realization of these goals will require a multisectoral and multi-disciplinary global strategy for combined and coordinated policies and actions relevant to the equalization of opportunities of disabled persons, effective rehabilitation services and measures for prevention.

Disabled persons and their organizations should be consulted in the further development of the World Programme of Action and in its implementation. To this end, every effort should be made to encourage the formation of organizations of disabled persons at the local, national, regional and international levels. Their unique expertise, derived from their experience, can make significant contributions to the planning of programmes and services for disabled persons. Through their discussion of issues they present points of view most widely representative of all concerns of disabled persons. Their impact on public attitudes warrants consultation with them and as a force for change they have significant influence on making disability issues a great priority. The disabled themselves should have a substantive influence in deciding the effectiveness of policies, programmes and services designed for their benefit. Special efforts should be made to involve mentally handicapped persons in this process.

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National action

The World Programme of Action is designed for all nations. The time-span for its implementation and the choice of items to be implemented as a priority will, however, vary from nation to nation depending on the existing situation and their resource constraints, levels of socio-economic development, cultural traditions, and their capacity to formulate and implement the actions envisaged in the Programme.

National Governments bear the ultimate responsibility for the implementation of the measures recommended in this section. Owing, however, to constitutional differences between countries, both local authorities and other bodies within the public and private sectors will be called upon to implement the national measures contained in the World Programme of Action.

Member States should urgently initiate national long-term programmes to achieve the objectives of the World Programme of Action; such programmes should be an integral component of the nation’s general policy for socio-economic development.

Matters concerning disabled persons should be treated within the appropriate general context and not separately. Each ministry or other body within the public or private sector responsible for, or working within, a specific sector should be responsible for those matters related to disabled persons which fall within its area of competence. Governments should establish a focal point (for example, a national commission, committee or similar body) to look into and follow the activities related to the World Programme of Action of various ministries, of other government agencies and of non-governmental organizations.

Any mechanism set up should involve all parties concerned, including organizations of disabled persons. The body should have access to decision makers at the highest level.

To implement the World Programme of Action, it is necessary for Member States:

  • To plan, organize and finance activities at each level;
  • To create, through legislation, the necessary legal bases and authority for measures to achieve the objectives;
  • To ensure opportunities by eliminating barriers to full participation;
  • To provide rehabilitation services by giving social, nutritional, medical, educational and vocational assistance and technical aids to disabled persons;
  • To establish or mobilize relevant public and private organizations;
  • To support the establishment and growth of organizations of disabled persons;
  • To prepare and disseminate information relevant to the issues of the World Programme of Action among all elements of the population, including persons with disabilities and their families;
  • To promote public education to ensure a broad understanding of the key issues of the World Programme of Action and its implementation;
  • To facilitate research on matters related to the World Programme of Action;
  • To promote technical assistance and cooperation related to the World Programme of Action;
  • To facilitate the participation of disabled persons and their organizations in decisions related to the World Programme of Action.

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Participation of disabled persons in decision-making

Member States should increase their assistance to organizations of disabled persons and help them organize and coordinate the representation of the interests and concerns of disabled persons.

Member States should actively seek out and encourage in every possible way the development of organizations composed of or representing disabled persons. Such organizations, in whose membership and governing bodies disabled persons, or in some cases relatives, have a decisive influence, exist in many countries. Many of them have not the means to assert themselves and fight for their rights.

Member States should establish direct contacts with such organizations and provide channels for them to influence government policies and decisions in all areas that concern them Member States should give the necessary financial support to organizations of disabled persons for this purpose.

Organizations and other bodies at all levels should ensure that disabled persons can participate in their activities to the fullest extent possible.

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Prevention of impairment, disability and handicap

The technology to prevent and control most disablement is available and improving but is not always fully utilized. Member States should take appropriate measures for the prevention of impairment and disability and ensure the dissemination of relevant knowledge and technology.

Coordinated programmes of prevention at all levels of society are needed. They should include:

  • Community-based primary health care systems that reach all segments of the population, particularly in rural areas and urban slums;
  • Effective maternal and child health care and counselling, as well as counselling for family planning and family life;
  • Education in nutrition and assistance in obtaining a proper diet, especially for mothers and children, including the production and utilization of foods rich in vitamins and other nutrients;
  • Immunization against communicable diseases, in line with the objectives of the Expanded Programme of Immunization of the World Health Organization;
  • A system for early detection and early intervention;
  • Safety regulations and training programmes for the prevention of accidents in the home, in the workplace, on the road and in leisure-related activities;
  • Adaptation of jobs, equipment and the working environment and the provision of occupational health programmes to prevent the generation of occupational disabilities or diseases and their exacerbation;
  • Measures to control the imprudent use of medication, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants or depressants in order to prevent drug-related disability, particularly among schoolchildren and elderly people. Of particular concern also is the effect upon unborn children of imprudent consumption of these substances by pregnant women;
  • Educational and public health activities that will assist people in attaining life-styles that will provide the maximum defence against the causes of impairment;
  • Sustained education of the public and of professionals as well as public information campaigns related to disability prevention programmes;
  • Adequate training for medical, paramedical and other persons who may be called upon to deal with casualties in emergencies;
  • Preventive measures incorporated in the training of rural extension workers to assist in reducing incidence of disabilities;
  • Well-organized vocational training and practical on-the-job training of workers with a view to preventing accidents at work and disabilities of different degrees. Attention should be paid to the fact that outdated technology is often used in developing countries. In many cases, old technology is transferred from industrial countries to developing countries. The old technology, inappropriate for the conditions in developing countries, together with insufficient training and deficient labour protection, contributes to an increased number of accidents at work and to disabilities.

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Member States should develop and ensure the provision of rehabilitation services necessary for achieving the objectives of the World Programme of Action.

Member States are encouraged to provide for all people the health care and related services needed to eliminate or reduce the disabling effects of impairment.

This includes the provision of social, nutritional, health and vocational services needed to enable disabled individuals to reach optimum levels of functioning. Depending on such factors as population distribution, geography and stages of development, services can be delivered through the following channels:

  • Community-based workers;
  • General facilities providing health, education, welfare and vocational services;
  • Other specialized services where the general facilities are unable to provide the necessary services.

Member States should ensure the availability of aids and equipment appropriate to the local situation for all those to whose functioning and independence they are essential It is necessary to ensure the provision of technical aids during and after the rehabilitation process. Follow-up repair services and replacement of aids that are obsolete are also needed. 101 It is necessary to make certain that disabled persons who need such equipment have the financial resources as well as the practical opportunities for obtaining them and learning to use them . Import taxes or other procedures that block the ready availability of aids and materials which cannot be manufactured in the country and must be obtained from other countries should be eliminated. It is important to support local production of aids that are suited to the technological, social and economic conditions under which they will be used Development and production of technical aids should follow the overall technological development of a specific country.

To stimulate local production and development of technical aids, Member States should consider establishing national centres with a responsibility to support such local developments. In many cases existing special schools, institutes of technology, etc., could serve as a basis for this. Regional cooperation in this connection should be considered.

Member States are encouraged to include within the general system of social services personnel competent to provide counselling and other assistance needed to deal with the problems of disabled persons and their families.

When the resources of the general social service system are inadequate to meet these needs, special services may be offered until the quality of the general system has been improved.

Within the context of available resources, Member States are encouraged to initiate whatever special measures may be necessary to ensure the provision and full use of services needed by disabled persons living in rural areas, urban slums and shanty towns.

Disabled persons should not be separated from their families and communities. The system of services must take into account problems of transportation and communication; the need for supporting social, health and education services; the existence of primitive and often hazardous living conditions; and, especially in some urban slums, social barriers that may inhibit people’s readiness to seek or accept services. Member States should assure an equitable distribution of these services to all population groups and geographical areas according to need.

Health and social services for mentally ill persons have been particularly neglected in many countries. The psychiatric care of persons with mental illness should be supplemented by the provision of social support and guidance to these persons and their families, who are often under particular strain. Where such services are available, the length of stay and the probability of renewed referral to institutions are lessened. In cases where mentally retarded persons are additionally afflicted with problems of mental illness, provisions are necessary to ensure that health care personnel are aware of the distinct needs related to retardation.

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Equalization of opportunities

Member States should assume responsibility for ensuring that disabled persons are granted equal opportunities with other citizens.

Member States should undertake the necessary measures to eliminate any discriminatory practices with respect to disability.

In drafting national human rights legislation, and with respect to national committees or similar coordinating national bodies dealing with the problems of disability, particular attention should be given to conditions which may adversely affect the ability of disabled persons to exercise the rights and freedoms guaranteed to their fellow citizens.

Member States should give attention to specific rights, such as the rights to education, work, social security and protection from inhuman or degrading treatment, and should examine these rights from the perspective of disabled persons.


Member States should work towards making the physical environment accessible to all, including persons with various types of disability, as specified in paragraph 8 of this document.

Member States should adopt a policy of observing accessibility aspects in the planning of human settlements, including programmes in the rural areas of developing countries.

Member States are encouraged to adopt a policy ensuring disabled persons access to all new public buildings and facilities, public housing and public transport systems. Furthermore, measures should be adopted that would encourage access to existing public buildings and facilities, housing and transport wherever feasible, especially by taking advantage of renovation.

Member States should encourage the provision of support services to enable disabled persons to live as independently as possible in the community. In so doing, they should ensure that persons with a disability have the opportunity to develop and manage these services for themselves, as is now being done in some countries.


Every Member State should work towards the inclusion, within its systems of laws and regulations, of provisions covering the general and supporting objectives of the World Programme of Action referring to social security.

Member States should ensure that disabled persons have equal opportunities to obtain all forms of income, maintenance thereof, and social security. Such a process should take place in forms adjusted to the economic system and degree of development of the Member State.

Where social security, social insurance and other such systems exist for the general population, they should be reviewed to make certain that adequate benefits and services for prevention, rehabilitation and the equalization of opportunities are provided for disabled persons and their families and that regulations under these systems, whether applicable to services providers or the services recipients, should not exclude or discriminate against such persons. The establishment and the development of a public system of social care and of industrial safety and health protection constitute essential prerequisites for achieving the aims set.

Easily accessible arrangements should be made by which disabled persons and their families can appeal, through impartial hearing, against decisions concerning their rights and benefits in this field.

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Member States should adopt policies which recognize the rights of disabled persons to equal educational opportunities with others. The education of disabled persons should as far as possible take place in the general school system. Responsibility for their education should be placed upon the educational authorities and laws regarding compulsory education should include children with all ranges of disabilities, including the most severely disabled.

Member States should allow for increased flexibility in the application to disabled persons of any regulation concerning admission age, promotion from class to class and, when appropriate, in examination procedures.

Basic criteria are to be met when developing educational services for disabled children and adults. These services should be:

  • Individualized, i.e, based on the assessed needs mutually agreed upon by authorities, administrators, parents and disabled students and leading to clearly stated curriculum goals and short term objectives which are regularly reviewed and where necessary revised;
  • Locally accessible, i.e., within reasonable travelling distance of the pupil’s home or residence except in special circumstances;
  • Comprehensive, i.e., serving all persons with special needs ir- respective of age or degree of disability, and such that no child of school age is excluded from educational provision on grounds of severity of disability or receives educational services significantly inferior to those enjoyed by any other students;
  • Offering a range of choice commensurate with the range of special needs in any given community.

Integration of disabled children into the general educational system requires planning by all parties concerned.

If, for some reason, the facilities of the general school system are inadequate for some disabled children, schooling for these children should then be provided for an appropriate period of time in special facilities. The quality of this special schooling should be equal to that of the general school system and closely linked to it.

The involvement of parents at all levels of the educational process is vital. Parents should be given the necessary support to provide as normal a family environment for the disabled child as is possible. Personnel should be trained to work with the parents of disabled children.

Member States should provide for the participation of disabled persons in adult education programmes, with special attention to rural areas if the facilities of regular adult education courses are in- adequate to meet the needs of some disabled persons, special courses or training centres may be needed until the regular programmes have been modified. Member States should grant disabled persons possibilities for education at the university level.


Member States should adopt a policy and supporting structure of services to ensure that disabled persons in both urban and rural areas have equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment in the open labour market. Rural employment and the development of appropriate tools and equipment should be given particular attention.

Member States can support the integration of disabled persons into open employment through a variety of measures, such as incentive-oriented quota schemes, reserved or designated employment, loans or grants for small businesses and cooperatives, exclusive contracts or priority production rights, tax concessions, contract compliance or other technical or financial assistance to enterprises employing disabled workers. Member States should support the development of technical aids and facilitate access for disabled persons to aids and assistance, which they need to do their work.

The policy and supporting structures, however, should not limit the opportunities for employment and should not hinder the vitality of the private sector of the economy. Member States should remain able to take a variety of measures in response to their domestic situations.

There should be mutual cooperation at the central and local level between government and employers’ and workers’ organizations in order to develop a joint strategy and joint action with a view to ensuring more and better employment opportunities for disabled persons. Such cooperation could concern recruitment policies, measures to improve the work environment in order to prevent handicapping injuries and im- pairments, measures for rehabilitation of employees impaired in the job, e.g ., by adjusting workplaces and work contents to their requirements.

These services should include vocational assessment and guidance, vocational training (including that in training workshops), placements and follow-up. Sheltered employment should be made available for those who, because of their special needs or particularly severe disabilities, may not be able to cope with the demands of competitive employment. Such provisions could be in the form of production workshops, home-working, and self-employment schemes, and small groups of severely disabled people employed in sheltered conditions within competitive industry.

When acting as employers, central and local governments should promote employment of disabled persons in the public sector. Laws and regulations should not raise obstacles to the employment of disabled persons.


Member States should ensure that disabled persons have the same opportunities for recreational activities as other citizens. This involves the possibility of using restaurants, cinemas, theatres, libraries, etc., as well as holiday resorts, sports arenas, hotels, beaches and other places for recreation . Member States should take action to remove all obstacles to this effect. Tourist authorities, travel agencies, hotels, voluntary organizations and others involved in organizing recreational activities or travel opportunities should offer their services to all and not discriminate against disabled persons. This involves, for instance, incorporating information on accessibility into their regular information to the public.

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Member States should ensure that disabled persons have the opportunity to utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential to the full, not only for their own benefit but also for the enrichment of the community. To this end, access to cultural activities should be ensured. If necessary, special arrangements should be made to meet the needs of individuals with mental or sensory impairments. These could include communication aids for the deaf, literature in Braille and/or cassettes for the visually impaired and reading material adapted to the individual’s mental capacity. The domain of cultural activities includes dance, music, literature, theatre and plastic arts.


Measures should be undertaken to ensure that disabled persons have the opportunity to benefit fully from the religious activities available to the community. In this way, the full participation by disabled persons in these activities will be made possible.


The importance of sports for disabled persons is becoming increasingly recognized. Member States should therefore encourage all forms of sports activities of disabled persons, inter alia, through the provision of adequate facilities and the proper organization of these activities.

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Community action

Member States should give high priority to the provision of information, training and financial assistance to local communities for the development of programmes that achieve the objectives of the World Programme of Action.

Arrangements should be made to encourage and facilitate cooperation among local communities and the exchange of information and experience. A Government benefiting from international technical assistance or technical cooperation in disability-related matters should ensure that the benefits and results of the assistance reach the communities in greatest need.

It is important to enlist the active participation of local government bodies, agencies and community organizations, such as citizen’s groups, trade unions, women’s organizations, consumer organizations, service clubs, religious bodies, political parties and parents’associations. Each community could designate an appropriate body, where organizations of disabled persons could have an influence, to serve as a focal point of communication and coordination to mobilize resources and initiate action.

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Staff training

All authorities responsible for the development and provision of services for disabled persons should give attention to staff matters, particularly to recruitment and training.

The training of community-based workers in the early detection of impairment, the provision of primary assistance and referral to appropriate facilities, and follow-up, are vital, as well as the training of medical teams and other personnel at referral centres. Whenever possible, these should be integrated into such related services as primary health care, schools and community development programmes. Member States should develop and intensify training for doctors which emphasizes the disabilities that can be produced by the indiscriminate use of some pharmaceutical products. Sale of proprietary/patent drugs whose unsupervised use could, in the long term, pose personal and public health hazards should be restricted.

If services related to mental and physical disabilities are to reach a growing number of disabled persons who receive none at present, it is necessary to provide them through various types of health and social workers in the local communities. Some of their activities are already related to prevention and to services for disabled persons. They will need special guidance and instruction, for instance, on simple rehabilitation measures and techniques to be used by disabled persons and their families. Guidance might be given by rehabilitation professionals at the community or district level, according to the area covered Special training will be necessary for the professionals at the peripheral level who would be responsible for the supervision of local programmes for persons with a disability and for contact with rehabilitation and other services available in the region.

Member States should ensure that community workers receive, in addition to specialized knowledge and skills, comprehensive information concerning the social, nutritional, medical, educational and vocational needs of disabled persons. Community workers, with adequate training and supervision, can provide most services needed by disabled persons and can be a valuable asset in overcoming personnel shortages. Their training should include appropriate information on contraceptive technology and planned parenthood. Volunteers can also provide very useful services and other forms of support. Greater emphasis should be placed on expanding the knowledge, capabilities and responsibilities of providers of other services who are already at work in the community in related fields, such as teachers, social workers, professional auxiliary health service personnel, administrators, government planners, community leaders, clergy and family counsellors. Individuals working in service programmes for disabled persons should be trained to understand the reasons for, and importance of, seeking, stimulating and assisting the full participation of disabled persons and their families in decisions concerning care, treatment, rehabilitation and subsequent living and employment arrangements.

Special teacher training is a dynamic field, and wherever possible it should take place in the country in which the education is to be used, or at least in a place where the cultural background and level of development are not too different.

A prerequisite for successful integration is the provision of appropriate teacher-training programmes, for both ordinary teachers and special teachers. The concept of integrated education should be reflected in teacher-training programmes.

When training special teachers, it is important to cover as wide a spectrum as possible, since in many developing countries the special teacher will be a multi-disciplinary team on his own. It should be noted that a high level of training is not always necessary or desirable, and that the vast majority of personnel come from the middle and lower levels of training.

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Information and public education

Member States should encourage a comprehensive public information programme about the rights, contributions and unmet needs of disabled persons that would reach all concerned, including the general public. In this connection, attitude change should be given special importance.

Guidelines should be developed in consultation with organizations of disabled persons to encourage the news media to give a sensitive and accurate portrayal of, as well as fair representation of and reporting on, disabilities and disabled persons in radio, television, film, photography and print. An essential element in such guidelines would be that disabled persons should be able to present their problems to the public themselves and to suggest how they might be solved. The inclusion of information on the realities of disabilities in the curricula of journalists’ training should be encouraged.

Public authorities are responsible for adapting their information so that it reaches everybody, including disabled persons. This does not apply only to the information mentioned above, but also to information concerning civil rights and obligations.

A public information programme should be designed to ensure that the most pertinent information reaches all appropriate segments of the population. In addition to the regular media and other normal channels of communication, attention should be given to:

  • The preparation of special materials to inform disabled persons and their families of the rights, benefits and services available to them and of the steps to be taken to correct failures and abuses in the system. Such materials should be available in forms that can be used and understood by people with visual, hearing or other communication limitations;
  • The preparation of special materials for groups within the population who are not easily reached by the normal channels of communication. Such groups may be separated by language, culture, levels of literacy, geographical distance and other factors;
  • The preparation of pictorial material, audio-visual presentations and guidelines for use by community workers in remote areas and other situations where normal forms of communication may be less effective.

Member States should ensure that current information is available to disabled persons, their families and professionals regarding programmes and services, legislation, institutions, expertise, aids and devices etc.

The authorities responsible for public education should ensure the presentation of systematic information about the realities of disability and its consequences and about prevention, rehabilitation and the equalization of opportunities for disabled persons.

Disabled persons and their organizations should be given equal access, employment, adequate resources and professional training with regard to public information, so they may express themselves freely through the media and communicate their points of view and experiences to the general public.

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International action

General aspects

The World Programme of Action, as adopted by the General Assembly, constitutes an international long-term plan based on extensive consultations with Governments, organs and bodies within the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including organizations of and for disabled persons. Progress in reaching the goals of the Programme could be achieved more quickly, efficiently and economically if close cooperation were maintained at every level.

In view of the role that the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs has been playing within the United Nations in the field of disability prevention, rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities for disabled persons, the Centre should be designated as the focal point for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the World Programme of Action, including its review and appraisal.

The Trust Fund established by the General Assembly for the International Year of Disabled Persons should be used to meet requests for assistance from developing countries and organizations of disabled persons and to further the implementation of the World Programme of Action.

In general, there is a need to increase the flow of resources to developing countries to implement the objectives of the World Programme of Action. Therefore, the Secretary General should explore new ways and means of raising funds and take the necessary follow-up measures for mobilizing resources. Voluntary contributions from Governments and from private sources should be encouraged.

The Administrative Committee on Coordination should consider the implications of the World Programme of Action for the organizations within the United Nations system and should use the existing mechanisms for continuing liaison and coordination of policy and action, including overall approaches on technical cooperation.

International non-governmental organizations should join in the cooperative effort to accomplish the objectives of the World Programme of Action. Existing relationships between such organizations and the United Nations system should be used for this purpose.

All international organizations and bodies are urged to cooperate with, and assist, organizations composed of, or representing disabled persons and to ensure that they have opportunities to make their views known when subjects related to the World Programme of Action are discussed.

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Human rights

In order to achieve the theme of the International Year of Disabled Persons, “Full participation and equality”, it is strongly urged that the United Nations system make all its facilities totally barrier-free, ensure that communication is fully available to sensorially impaired persons and adopt an affirmative action plan that includes administrative policies and practices to encourage the employment of disabled persons in the entire United Nations system.

In considering the status of disabled persons with respect to human rights, priority should be placed on the use of United Nations covenants and other instruments, as well as those of other international organizations within the United Nations system that protect the rights of all persons. This principle is consistent with the theme of the International Year of Disabled Persons, “Full participation and equality”.

Specifically, organizations and bodies involved in the United Nations system responsible for the preparation and administration of international agreements, covenants and other instruments that might have a direct or indirect impact on disabled people should ensure that such instruments fully take into account the situation of persons who are disabled.

The States parties to the International Covenants on Human Rights should pay due attention, in their reports, to the application of the Covenants to the situation of disabled persons. The working group of the Economic and Social Council entrusted with the examination of reports under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Commission on Human Rights, which has the function of examining reports under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, should pay due attention to this aspect of the reports.

Particular conditions may exist which inhibit the ability of disabled persons to exercise the human rights and freedoms recognized as universal to all mankind Consideration should be given by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to such conditions.

National committees or similar coordinating bodies dealing with problems of disability should also pay attention to such conditions.

Incidents of gross violation of basic human rights, including torture, can be a cause of mental and physical disability. The Commission on Human Rights should give consideration, interalia, to such violations for the purpose of taking appropriate ameliorative action.

The Commission on Human Rights should continue to consider methods of achieving international cooperation for the implementation of internationally recognized basic rights for all, including disabled persons.

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Technical and economic cooperation

The developing countries are experiencing increasing difficulties in mobilizing adequate resources for meeting the pressing needs of disabled persons and the millions of disadvantaged persons in these countries in the face of the pressing demands from high priority sectors such as agriculture, rural and industrial development, population control, etc., concerned with basic needs. Their efforts should therefore be supported by the international community, in line with paragraphs 82 and 83 above, and the flow of resources to developing countries should be substantially increased, as stated in the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade.

Inasmuch as most international technical cooperation and donor agencies can undertake to collaborate with national endeavours only on the basis of official requests from Governments, increased efforts should be made by all parties concerned with the establishment of programmes related to disabled persons to apprise Governments of the exact nature of the support that can be sought from these agencies.

The Vienna Affirmative Action Plan 9/ prepared by the World Symposium of Experts on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries and Technical Assistance in Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons could serve as a guideline for the implementation of technical cooperation activities within the World Programme of Action.

Those organizations within the United Nations system that have a mandate, resources and experience in areas related to the World Programme should explore, with the Governments to which they are accredited, ways of adding to existing or planned projects in different sectors components that would respond to the specific needs of disabled persons and the prevention of disability.

All international organizations whose activities have a bearing on financial and technical cooperation should be encouraged to ensure that priority is accorded to requests from Member States for assistance in the prevention of disability, rehabilitation and the equalization of opportunities which are in accordance with their natural priorities. Such measures will ensure the allocation of increased resources for both capital investment and recurrent expenditure for services related to prevention, rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities. This action should be reflected in the programmes for economic and social development of all multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, including technical cooperation among developing countries.

In seeking to collaborate with Governments to serve better the needs of disabled persons, the various United Nations organizations, as well as bilateral and private institutions, should closely coordinate their inputs in order to contribute more efficiently to the attainment of established goals.

As most of the United Nations organizations involved already have the specific responsibility of promoting the establishment of projects or the addition of project components directed towards disabled persons, a clearer division of responsibilities, as set out below, should be established among them in order to improve the response of the United Nations system to the challenge of the International Year of Disabled Persons and the World Programme of Action:

  • The United Nations and, in particular, the Department of Technical Cooperation for Development should, together with the specialized agencies and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, carry out technical cooperation activities in support of the implementation of the World Programme of Action; in this connection, the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs should continue to give substantive support, in the implementation of the World Programme of Action, to technical cooperation projects and activities;
  • The United Nations Development Programme should continue to use its field establishment to give considerable attention, within its normal programmes and procedures, to project requests from Governments that specially respond to the needs of disabled persons and to prevention of disability. It should particularly encourage technical cooperation in the field of disability prevention, rehabilitation and equalization of opportunities by using its various programmes and services, such as technical cooperation among developing countries, global and interregional projects and the Interim Fund for Science and Technology;
  • The main efforts of UNICEF would continue to be directed towards better preventive measures involving greater support for maternal and child health services, health education, disease control and the improvement of nutrition; for those who are already disabled, UNICEF encourages the development of integrated education projects and supports rehabilitation activities at the community level, using inexpensive local resources;
  • The specialized agencies, within their mandate and sectoral responsibilities, should give, on the basis of requests from Governments, still greater emphasis to efforts to help meet the needs of disabled persons by using the chances offered to them through the programming processes of individual countries and the establishment of regional, interregional and global projects, as well as through the use of their own resources, when feasible. Their different spheres of responsibility in this respect should be as follows: ILO-vocational rehabilitation and occupational safety and health; UNESCO-education of disabled children and adults; WHO-prevention of disability and medical rehabilitation; FAO-improvement of nutrition;
  • In their lending activities, multilateral financial institutions should take into serious consideration the objectives and proposals of the World Programme of Action.

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The regional commissions of the United Nations and other regional bodies should encourage regional and sub-regional cooperation in the area of prevention of disability, rehabilitation of disabled persons and equalization of opportunities. They should monitor progress in their regions, identify needs, collect and analyze information, sponsor action-oriented research, supply advisory services and engage in technical cooperation activities. They should include in their action plans research and development, preparation of information materials and the training of personnel; and they should, as an interim measure, facilitate activities in the field of technical cooperation among developing countries which are related to the objectives of the World Programme of Action. They should promote the development of organizations of disabled persons as an essential resource in developing the activities referred to earlier in this paragraph.

Member States, in cooperation with regional bodies and commissions, should be encouraged to establish regional (or sub- regional) institutes or offices to promote the interests of persons with a disability, in consultation with organizations of disabled persons and the appropriate international organizations. Other functions should be to promote the activities mentioned above. It is important to understand that the function of the institutes is not to provide direct services but to promote innovative concepts like community-based rehabilitation, coordination, information, training and advice in organizational development of disabled persons.

Donor countries should attempt to find the means within their bilateral and multilateral technical assistance programmes to respond to requests for assistance from Member States relating to national or regional measures in the area of prevention, rehabilitation and the equalization of opportunities. These measures should include assistance to appropriate agencies and/or organizations to expand cooperative arrangements within and between regions. Technical cooperation agencies should actively recruit disabled persons at all levels and functions, including field positions.

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Information and public education

The United Nations should carry out and continue activities to increase public awareness of the objectives of the World Programme of Action. To this end the substantive offices should regularly and automatically furnish the Department of Public Information (DPI) with information on their activities so as to enable it to publicize these activities through press releases, features, newsletters, fact sheets, booklets, radio and television interviews and in any other appropriate forms.

All agencies involved in projects and programmes that are connected with the World Programme of Action should continue in their endeavours to inform the public. Research should be undertaken by those agencies whose fields of specialization require involvement in such activity.

The United Nations, in collaboration with the specialized agencies concerned, should develop innovative approaches using a variety of media for conveying information, including the principles and objectives of the World Programme of Action, to audiences not regularly reached by conventional media or which are unaccustomed to using such media.

International organizations should assist national and community bodies in the preparation of public education programmes by suggesting curricula and providing teaching materials and background information about the objectives of the World Programme of Action.

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In view of the little knowledge that is available as to the place of the disabled person within different cultures, which in turn determine attitudes and behaviour patterns, there is a need to undertake studies focusing on the socio-cultural aspects of disability. This will give a more perceptive understanding of the relations between non-disabled and disabled persons in different cultures. The results of such studies will make it possible to propose approaches suited to the realities of the human environment. Furthermore, an effort should be made to develop social indicators relating to the education of disabled persons so as to analyze the problems involved and plan programmes accordingly.

Member States should develop a programme of research on the causes, types and incidence of impairment and disability, the economic and social conditions of disabled persons, and the availability and efficacy of existing resources to deal with these matters.

Research into the social, economic and participation issues that affect the lives of disabled persons and their families, and the ways these matters are dealt with by society, is of particular importance. Research data may be obtained through national statistical offices and census bureaux; however, it should be noted that a household survey programme designed to collect information about disability issues is more likely to produce useful results than a general census of the population.

There is also a need to encourage research with a view to developing better aids and equipment for disabled persons. Particular efforts should be devoted to finding solutions which are suited to the technological and economic conditions in developing countries.

The United Nations and its specialized agencies should follow the trends of international research into disability and related research issues to identify existing needs and priorities, while emphasizing innovative approaches to all forms of action recommended in the World Programme of Action.

The United Nations should encourage and assist in research projects designed to increase knowledge about the issues covered in the World Programme of Action. It is necessary for the United Nations to be familiar with research findings from various countries and to be aware of research proposals now pending approval. The United Nations also needs to give increased attention to research results and to stress their use and their dissemination. A permanent link with bibliographical retrieval systems is highly recommended.

The regional commissions of the United Nations and other regional bodies should include in their action plans research activities to assist Governments in implementing the proposals contained in the World Programme of Action. The key to maximizing the effectiveness of research expenditure for the disabled is the dissemination and sharing of information on the results of research. International governmental and non-governmental agencies should play an active role in establishing collaborative mechanisms between regional and local institutions for joint studies and for the exchange of information.

Research at the medical, psychological and social levels offers the promise of reducing physical, mental and social disability. There is a need to develop programmes which include the identification of areas where the probability of progress through research is high. The difference between industrialized countries and developing countries should not prevent the development of fruitful collaboration since many problems are of universal concern.

Studies in the following fields are of value to both developing and developed countries:

  • Clinical research into the containment of those events which cause disability; evaluation of the individual’s functional capacity from the medical, psychological and social aspects; and evaluation of rehabilitation programmes, including information aspects;
  • Studies of the prevalence of disability, the functional limitations of the disabled, the conditions under which they live and the problems they face;
  • Health and social service research, including research into the gains and costs of different rehabilitation and care policies, ways of making programmes as effective as possible and a search for alternative approaches. Studies of community care of disabled persons would be particularly relevant to developing countries, and the study and evaluation of experiments, as well as comprehensive demonstration programmes, would be of value to all. Much information is available which could be productive for secondary analysis.

Health and social science research institutions should be encouraged to undertake research and to collect information on disabled persons. Applied research activities are of particular value in the development of new techniques for the delivery of services, the preparation of information materials appropriate for different language and culture groups, and the training of personnel under conditions relevant to the region.

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Monitoring and evaluation

It is essential that assessment of the situation relating to disabled persons should be carried out periodically and that a baseline should be established to measure developments. The most important criteria for evaluating the World Programme of Action are suggested by the theme of the International Year of Disabled Persons, “Full participation and equality”. Monitoring and evaluation should be carried out at periodic intervals at the international and regional levels, as well as at the national level. Evaluation indicators should be selected by the United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs in consultation with Member States and relevant United Nations agencies and other organizations.

The United Nations system should carry out a critical periodic evaluation of progress made in implementing the World Programme of Action and to that end should select appropriate indicators for evaluation in consultation with Member States. The Commission for Social Development should play an important role in this respect. The United Nations, together with the specialized agencies, should develop, on a continuing basis, suitable systems for the collection and dissemination of information so as to ensure the improvement of programmes at all levels on the basis of evaluation results. In this connection, the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs should have an important role to play.

The regional commissions should be requested to carry out monitoring and evaluation functions that would contribute to the global assessments carried out at the international level. Other regional and intergovernmental bodies should be encouraged to take part in this process.

At the national level, an evaluation of programmes relating to disabled persons should be carried out periodically.

The Statistical Office is urged, together with other units of the Secretariat, the specialized agencies and regional commissions, to cooperate with the developing countries in evolving a realistic and practical system of data collection based either on total enumeration or on representative samples, as may be appropriate, in regard to various disabilities, and, in particular, to prepare technical manuals/documents on how to use household surveys for the collection of such statistics, to be used as essential tools and frames of reference for launching action programmes in the post-lYDP years to ameliorate the condition of disabled persons.

In this extensive exercise the United Nations Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs should play a major role, supported by the United Nations Statistical Office.

The Secretary-General should report periodically on efforts by the United Nations and the specialized agencies to hire more disabled persons and to make their facilities and information more accessible to disabled persons.

On the basis of the results of the periodic evaluation and of developments in the world economic and social situation, it may be necessary periodically to revise the World Programme of Action. These revisions should take place every five years, the first being in 1987, based upon a report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly at its forty-second session. The review should also constitute an input to the process of review and appraisal of the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade.

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  1. This resolution is contained in United Nations document A/37/51, Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-seventh Session Supplement No. 51.
  2. International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (ICIDH), World Health Organization, Geneva, 1980.
  3. General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI)
  4. General Assembly resolution 2856 (XXVI).
  5. General Assembly resolution 3447 (XXX).
  6. General Assembly resolution 2542 (XXIV).
  7. United Nations document A/36/766.
  8. General Assembly resolution 35/56.
  9. United Nations document IYDP/SYMP/L.2/Rev.1 of 16 March 1982

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