The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities hosted a National Disability Summit on 16 March 2012. The summit was convened because the rights of people with disabilities have not been realised, despite the release of the White Paper on an Integrated National Disability Strategy in 1997 and the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
The Minister pointed out in her opening speech that this is because of ongoing discriminatory beliefs, hostile built environments and communication systems, and lack of advocacy capacity within the disability sector.
The objective of the summit was to create a platform for government and its social partners to engage on the National Disability Agenda priorities, to reach consensus on the approach to implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to consult on the National Disability Policy.
The Minister announced plans to strengthen the coordination of the National Disability agenda across all three spheres of government through: a National Awareness Campaign on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will include awareness materials, mainstreaming disability into all commemorative days, and consolidating Disability Month activities; the finalisation of a national framework for universal access and design, which will include a review of minimum norms and standards, enforcement mechanisms, capacity development framework and a financial model for the rollout of universal access across all three spheres of government; the finalisation of the National Disability Policy, which will include an audit of all existing legislation and policies against the UNCRPD, enforcement mechanisms, restructuring of institutional arrangements and the finalisation of a monitoring and evaluation framework; and specific interventions to ensure that people with disabilities have access to education, employment, health and rehabilitation services and feel safe.
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