Quality in Social Services – Understanding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Our society is composed of individuals
with diverse ways of functioning. A disability is one of the many
differences that a person may be born with, or acquire through life, and that may affect a person in various areas of life. Unfortunately persons with disabilities
today still face discrimination, environments that are not accessible
or welcoming to them and various forms of abuse and
violations of their basic rights. This video will present the main
International Convention regarding disability rights, the historical background behind the
main ideas of this convention, and how these ideas will affect the
daily work of service providers to persons with disabilities and their
staff members. Understanding the concept of disability: The medical model of disability A long-held view of disability is now
called the medical model of disability; in which disability is a medical problem
that needs to be solved or an illness that needs to be "cured". This model implied that a person with a disability is broken or sick and that they need to
be fixed or healed through medical intervention. It places the burden on the person's
"problem" which therefore should be "fixed". Charity model of disability: In the charity model of disability, there is a view that persons with disabilities are helpless people and need to be cared for. In this model, persons with disabilities are regarded as objects of charity and passive recipients of welfare. People feel pity for them, and the disabled person is made to be
entirely dependent from others Social model of disability: The social model of disability focuses on eliminating barriers created by society or the physical environment that limit a
person from enjoying the human rights. By eliminating attitudinal and
environmental barriers, as opposed to treating persons with
disabilities as problems to be fixed, persons with disabilities can
participate as active members of society and enjoy the full range of their rights. This includes promoting
positive attitudes changing the rules and environment to be
accessible for all including buildings and providing
information in a way that everyone can understand These changes are a responsibility of government, but can also be triggered and promoted by, for example: social service providers, the parents of
children with disabilities other disability advocates and
disability organisations and persons with disabilities themselves. Presentation of the CRPD The United Nations Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD for short was adopted on the 13th
of December 2006 at the United Nations, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. As of September 2014, this convention has been ratified by 147 countries in the world including 25 of the 28 EU member states The European Union itself ratified the
Convention in 2010. This Convention is the product of decades of work by the United Nations and disability rights advocates around the world to change attitudes towards persons with disabilities. It presents persons with disabilities as
citizens with rights who are capable of making decisions for
their lives based on their free and informed consent, and be active members of society More specifically, the convention clarifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations
have to be made, and where protection of rights must be
reinforced. The CRPD mainly creates obligations for countries that have signed and ratified it, and it often leads the government to adapt and change its own laws to support the goals of the convention. These laws will have impact on the obligations and performance of social service providers, but it does not mean a service provider should wait for these laws to be in place to start respecting the main principles
behind the convention. This convention includes persons with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, developmental and sensory disabilities, but also covers persons with short-term disabilities that are deprived of their rights. This convention is based on the social model of disability. Key elements of the CRPD that affect social services design and provision The Convention contains various elements about the rights of persons with disabilities that are very important for social services and their staff to keep in mind when designing services to persons with disabilities. Here are some of these rights: 1. Equality and non-discrimination It is illegal for a country to have regulations that discriminate against persons with disabilities. When necessary, governments should create laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and put these laws into action. The Convention also recognises that people can also face multiple forms of discrimination; for example women and girls with disabilities could face different challenges than men and boys who also have a disability. The rights to privacy and dignity, and the importance of abuse prevention. Abuse of persons with disabilities can come in several forms, such as: physical or psychological abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and financial abuse. Social work professionals and social service providers have an essential role role in protecting and promoting the right of persons with disabilities to be free from abuse. This role not only involves prevention and protection by setting policies in place that minimise the possibility of abuse, but it also requires action in condemning and reporting instances of abuse detected among its staff. The right to privacy and dignity of persons with disabilities also means that social service providers, who may have access to a lot of personal information on the persons they serve, must be mindful of how this sensitive information is shared, and with whom. 3. The right to self-determination Self-determination is a person’s ability to make informed decisions for themselves on how they want to lead their life. For this to happen, the person must be informed about the choices possible, and empowered to make their decision a reality. Service providers can support this empowerment by providing each service-user with an individual plan of services that is customised to their specific needs, ambitions, and preferences. Because each person has different needs and goals for themselves, users of disability services cannot all receive the exact same set of services. This is also called “individual planning”. 4. Reasonable accommodation: A reasonable accommodation is when a change or adjustment is made to a service, which does not require disproportionate resources from the one who offers it, but makes it possible for a person to participate in an activity; whereas without the accommodation, if could not have been possible. Providing a person with disability reasonable accommodation and/or the support he or she needs to participate in daily activities is to be seen as a means to ensure his/her right to participation, not as dependence. 5. The right to home and family People have the right to live where and with whom they want, including their families, if they wish. If a person has a disability, the government should support the family with disability-related expenses and services. . If persons with a disability cannot or does not want to live with their immediate family, the government should support in providing care within the wider family or community. Persons with disabilities have the same rights as other people to reproductive health information, to marry and to have children. It is important for social service providers to understand the importance and impact of the right to home and family in relation to enjoying other rights. In many cases persons with a disability are institutionalised, or sent far away from their families. The right of persons to live with their families also means that families should have access to planning and monitoring the service users’ individual programmes. 6. Independent living It is important for governments and service providers to understand the right to independent living in the community and to examine which support services will be needed for an equal access to independent living. The right of persons to live in the community encourages community-based services for persons with a disability and therefore contributes to the concept of inclusion in society. The right to independent living in the community also means that they should have access to individual services in their proximity. Conclusion With the ratification of the CRPD, there are many elements of our societies that will need to change and adapt, in order to include persons with disabilities in all areas of life: education, work, family, as well as cultural and sports activities. In order to see this vision come to reality in the near future, social service providers throughout Europe are encouraged to integrate the principles of the Convention in all aspects the service delivery and
support an independent life for persons with disabilities

1 thought on “Quality in Social Services – Understanding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”

  1. Hey everyone!
    This video was produced as part of a learning module on quality in social services by the European Platform for Rehabilitation, and with financial support from the European Union. For more information on this learning module visit www.equass.be
    Please share in your networks if you have the opportunity

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