The members of Caravan 2000, a network for understanding and diversity in Europe and the neighbouring countries, welcome the ratification of the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities!
The UN convention is an important step in the direction of creating equal opportunities for people with disabilities! However, their situation still leaves a lot to be desired:
In most European countries, children with disabilities and other special needs must attend special schools and are not included in mainstream schools!
The employment rate of persons with disabilities in all the European countries, is significantly lower than that of the majority in the relevant age-groups. People with special needs must often work in sheltered workshops where salaries are low and social benefits are not available.
Institutional care is still widely practiced instead of community-based, individual living, which is the preferred choice of most people with special needs and that of their families!
Physical presence in the community is not inclusion! There is ample evidence that persons with disabilities today spend less time outside their homes, have less leisure opportunities and feel more isolated from the communities in which they live, compared to other citizens.
We witness daily instances of discrimination of people with disabilities and instances of undignified and disrespectful treatment!
In agreement with the values underlying the UN-Convention and its Amendment from 1997, we believe that: “Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to society, pursue meaningful careers and enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational mainstream of society!”
Now, when the rights of people with disabilities have gained worldwide recognition, time has come to define a successful strategy for improving the quality of their lives everywhere. To do this we must address the following areas: Family, education, leisure time, work, health and mobility.
The members of Caravan 2000, working in more than 20 countries have the potential capacity to develop such a strategy!
European Movement for Diversity and Understanding
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