RESOURCE: How to Develop Civil Rights Law for Disabled People in Your Country
Every day in your country, people with disabilities experience discrimination and human rights violations. This discrimination prevents disabled people from obtaining an education, receiving health care, finding jobs, and participating in community events. You know that some countries have civil rights laws that make it illegal to discriminate against disabled people. Would these kinds of civil rights laws be useful for your country as well? If so, how do you write an effective law and persuade your government to pass it?
A guide from the UK-based Disability Awareness in Action (DAA), entitled Civil Rights Law and Disabled People, can help you answer these and other associated questions. The answers may not be what you think. For example, some people assume a law will be helpful in their country because it has worked well in another country. But different historical and cultural contexts can mean that different countries may need different combinations of approaches to ending discrimination. Civil rights law is not the only approach.
If you do decide that your country needs a civil rights law, then the DAA guide offers advice on how you can campaign to make other people recognize disability as an important issue. If your country allows citizens to write legislation, then the Civil Rights Law and Disabled People guide can advise on how to write an effective law. It is important, for example, to offer a clear definition of who is “disabled,” or what it means to “discriminate,” or how a business, government agency, or other entity can stop discriminating against disabled people.
Toward the end of the guide, you can read several examples of how civil rights laws from several different countries have defined “disability” or “disabled person.”
You can read the complete guide at
In addition, it may also be helpful to read civil rights laws protecting people with disabilities from other countries around the world. There are several resources on-line that can help you find out what other the law says about people with disabilities in other countries:
Has your country ratified the international disability rights treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)? If so, your country may be legally obligated to abolish laws that discriminate against disabled people, or to create laws that protect your human rights.
Signing the CRPD is not the same as ratifying it. When a country signs the CRPD, it is not legally bound by it. But, signing the CRPD does show that a country is interested in ratifying it later. It also commits the country to avoiding any actions that would be against the spirit of the CRPD. Also, in some cases, the country may need or want to change its laws before it ratifies the CRPD.
If your country has signed or ratified the CRPD, you may be able to use this information to help you campaign for better laws in your country. Find out if your country has signed or ratified the CRPD at http://www.un.org disabilities/countries.asp?navid=12&pid=166.
We Can Do first discovered the Civil Rights Law and Disabled People guide through the AskSource.info database on disability and development.
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