Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities, A/RES/48/96, 85th
Plenary Meeting 20 December 1993.
The General Assembly,
Recalling Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/26 of 24 May 1990, in
which the Council authorized the Commission for Social Development to consider,
at its thirty-second session, the establishment of an ad hoc open-ended working
group of government experts, funded by voluntary contributions, to elaborate
standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for disabled children, youth
and adults, in close collaboration with the specialized agencies, other intergovernmental
bodies and non-governmental organizations, especially organizations of disabled
persons, and requested the Commission, should it establish such a working group,
to finalize the text of those rules for consideration by the Council in 1993
and for submission to the General Assembly at its forty-eighth session,
Also recalling that in its resolution 32/2 of 20 February 1991 the Commission
for Social Development decided to establish an ad hoc open-ended working group
of government experts in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution
Noting with appreciation the participation of many States, specialized agencies,
intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations, especially organizations
of disabled persons, in the deliberations of the working group,
Also noting with appreciation the generous financial contributions of Member
States to the working group,
Welcoming the fact that the working group was able to fulfil its mandate within
three sessions of five working days each,
Acknowledging with appreciation the report of the ad hoc open-ended working
group to elaborate standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for persons
Taking note of the discussion in the Commission for Social Development at its
thirty-third session on the draft standard rules contained in the report of
the working group,
- Adopts the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons
with Disabilities, set forth in the annex to the present resolution;
- Requests Member States to apply the Rules in developing national disability
- Urges Member States to meet the requests of the Special Rapporteur for
information on the implementation of the Rules;
- Requests the Secretary-General to promote the implementation of the Rules
and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its fiftieth session;
- Urges Member States to support, financially and otherwise, the implementation
of the Rules.
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
- Background and current needs
- Previous international action
- Towards standard rules
- Purpose and content of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities
- Fundamental concepts in disability policy
I. PRECONDITIONS FOR EQUAL PARTICIPATION
- Rule 1. Awareness-raising
- Rule 2. Medical care
- Rule 3. Rehabilitation
- Rule 4. Support services
II. TARGET AREAS FOR EQUAL PARTICIPATION
- Rule 5. Accessibility
- Rule 6. Education
- Rule 7. Employment
- Rule 8. Income maintenance and social security
- Rule 9. Family life and personal integrity
- Rule 10. Culture
- Rule 11. Recreation and sports
- Rule 12. Religion
III. IMPLEMENTATION MEASURES
- Rule 13. Information and research
- Rule 14. Policy-making and planning
- Rule 15. Legislation
- Rule 16. Economic policies
- Rule 17. Coordination of work
- Rule 18. Organizations of persons with disabilities
- Rule 19. Personnel training
- Rule 20. National monitoring and evaluation of disability programmes in
the implementation of the Rules
- Rule 21. Technical and economic cooperation
- Rule 22. International cooperation
IV. MONITORING MECHANISM
Background and current needs
- There are persons with disabilities in all parts of the world and at all
levels in every society. The number of persons with disabilities in the world
is large and is growing.
- Both the causes and the consequences of disability vary throughout the
world. Those variations are the result of different socio-economic circumstances
and of the different provisions that States make for the well-being of their
- Present disability policy is the result of developments over the past 200
years. In many ways it reflects the general living conditions and social and
economic policies of different times. In the disability field, however, there
are also many specific circumstances that have influenced the living conditions
of persons with disabilities. Ignorance, neglect, superstition and fear are
social factors that throughout the history of disability have isolated persons
with disabilities and delayed their development.
- Over the years disability policy developed from elementary care at institutions
to education for children with disabilities and rehabilitation for persons
who became disabled during adult life. Through education and rehabilitation,
persons with disabilities became more active and a driving force in the further
development of disability policy. Organizations of persons with disabilities,
their families and advocates were formed, which advocated better conditions
for persons with disabilities. After the Second World War the concepts of
integration and normalization were introduced, which reflected a growing awareness
of the capabilities of persons with disabilities.
- Towards the end of the 1960s organizations of persons with disabilities
in some countries started to formulate a new concept of disability. That new
concept indicated the close connection between the limitation experienced
by individuals with disabilities, the design and structure of their environments
and the attitude of the general population. At the same time the problems
of disability in developing countries were more and more highlighted. In some
of those countries the percentage of the population with disabilities was
estimated to be very high and, for the most part, persons with disabilities
were extremely poor.
Previous international action
6. The rights of persons with disabilities have been the subject of much attention
in the United Nations and other international organizations over a long period
of time. The most important outcome of the International Year of Disabled Persons,
1981, was the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted
by the General Assembly by its resolution 37/52 of 3 December 1982. The Year
and the World Programme of Action provided a strong impetus for progress in
the field. They both emphasized the right of persons with disabilities to the
same opportunities as other citizens and to an equal share in the improvements
in living conditions resulting from economic and social development. There also,
for the first time, handicap was defined as a function of the relationship between
persons with disabilities and their environment.
7. The Global Meeting of Experts to Review the Implementation of the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons at the Mid-Point of the United
Nations Decade of Disabled Persons was held at Stockholm in 1987. It was suggested
at the Meeting that a guiding philosophy should be developed to indicate the
priorities for action in the years ahead. The basis of that philosophy should
be the recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities.
8. Consequently, the Meeting recommended that the General Assembly convene
a special conference to draft an international convention on the elimination
of all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities, to be ratified
by States by the end of the Decade.
9. A draft outline of the convention was prepared by Italy and presented to
the General Assembly at its forty-second session. Further presentations concerning
a draft convention were made by Sweden at the forty-fourth session of the Assembly.
However, on both occasions, no consensus could be reached on the suitability
of such a convention. In the opinion of many representatives, existing human
rights documents seemed to guarantee persons with disabilities the same rights
as other persons.
Towards standard rules
10. Guided by the deliberations in the General Assembly, the Economic and Social
Council, at its first regular session of 1990, finally agreed to concentrate
on the elaboration of an international instrument of a different kind. By its
resolution 1990/26 of 24 May 1990, the Council authorized the Commission for
Social Development to consider, at its thirty-second session, the establishment
of an ad hoc open-ended working group of government experts, funded by voluntary
contributions, to elaborate standard rules on the equalization of opportunities
for disabled children, youth and adults, in close collaboration with the specialized
agencies, other intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations,
especially organizations of disabled persons. The Council also requested the
Commission to finalize the text of those rules for consideration in 1993 and
for submission to the General Assembly at its forty-eighth session.
11. The subsequent discussions in the Third Committee of the General Assembly
at the forty-fifth session showed that there was wide support for the new initiative
to elaborate standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for persons
12. At the thirty-second session of the Commission for Social Development,
the initiative for standard rules received the support of a large number of
representatives and discussions led to the adoption of resolution 32/2 of 20
February 1991, in which the Commission decided to establish an ad hoc open-ended
working group in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/26.
Purpose and content of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities
13. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities have been developed on the basis of the experience gained during
the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992). The International
Bill of Human Rights, comprising the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the
Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women, as well as the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons,
constitute the political and moral foundation for the Rules.
14. Although the Rules are not compulsory, they can become international customary
rules when they are applied by a great number of States with the intention of
respecting a rule in international law. They imply a strong moral and political
commitment on behalf of States to take action for the equalization of opportunities
for persons with disabilities. Important principles for responsibility, action
and cooperation are indicated. Areas of decisive importance for the quality
of life and for the achievement of full participation and equality are pointed
out. The Rules offer an instrument for policy-making and action to persons with
disabilities and their organizations. They provide a basis for technical and
economic cooperation among States, the United Nations and other international
15. The purpose of the Rules is to ensure that girls, boys, women and men with
disabilities, as members of their societies, may exercise the same rights and
obligations as others. In all societies of the world there are still obstacles
preventing persons with disabilities from exercising their rights and freedoms
and making it difficult for them to participate fully in the activities of their
societies. It is the responsibility of States to take appropriate action to
remove such obstacles. Persons with disabilities and their organizations should
play an active role as partners in this process. The equalization of opportunities
for persons with disabilities is an essential contribution in the general and
worldwide effort to mobilize human resources. Special attention may need to
be directed towards groups such as women, children, the elderly, the poor, migrant
workers, persons with dual or multiple disabilities, indigenous people and ethnic
minorities. In addition, there are a large number of refugees with disabilities
who have special needs requiring attention.
Fundamental concepts in disability policy
16. The concepts set out below appear throughout the Rules. They are essentially
built on the concepts in the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.
In some cases they reflect the development that has taken place during the United
Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.
Disability and handicap
17. The term 'disability' summarizes a great number of different functional
limitations occurring in any population in any country of the world. People
may be disabled by physical, intellectual or sensory impairment, medical conditions
or mental illness. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent
or transitory in nature.
18. The term 'handicap' means the loss or limitation of opportunities to take
part in the life of the community on an equal level with others. It describes
the encounter between the person with a disability and the environment. The
purpose of this term is to emphasize the focus on the shortcomings in the environment
and in many organized activities in society, for example, information, communication
and education, which prevent persons with disabilities from participating on
19. The use of the two terms 'disability' and 'handicap', as defined in paragraphs
17 and 18 above, should be seen in the light of modern disability history. During
the 1970s there was a strong reaction among representatives of organizations
of persons with disabilities and professionals in the field of disability against
the terminology of the time. The terms 'disability' and 'handicap' were often
used in an unclear and confusing way, which gave poor guidance for policy-making
and for political action. The terminology reflected a medical and diagnostic
approach, which ignored the imperfections and deficiencies of the surrounding
20. In 1980, the World Health Organization adopted an international classification
of impairments, disabilities and handicaps, which suggested a more precise and
at the same time relativistic approach. The International Classification of
Impairments, Disabilities, and Handicaps makes a clear distinction between 'impairment',
'disability' and 'handicap'. It has been extensively used in areas such as rehabilitation,
education, statistics, policy, legislation, demography, sociology, economics
and anthropology. Some users have expressed concern that the Classification,
in its definition of the term 'handicap', may still be considered too medical
and too centred on the individual, and may not adequately clarify the interaction
between societal conditions or expectations and the abilities of the individual.
Those concerns, and others expressed by users during the 12 years since its
publication, will be addressed in forthcoming revisions of the Classification.
21. As a result of experience gained in the implementation of the World Programme
of Action and of the general discussion that took place during the United Nations
Decade of Disabled Persons, there was a deepening of knowledge and extension
of understanding concerning disability issues and the terminology used. Current
terminology recognizes the necessity of addressing both the individual needs
(such as rehabilitation and technical aids) and the shortcomings of the society
(various obstacles for participation).
22. The term 'prevention' means action aimed at preventing the occurrence of
physical, intellectual, psychiatric or sensory impairments (primary prevention)
or at preventing impairments from causing a permanent functional limitation
or disability (secondary prevention). Prevention may include many different
types of action, such as primary health care, prenatal and postnatal care, education
in nutrition, immunization campaigns against communicable diseases, measures
to control endemic diseases, safety regulations, programmes for the prevention
of accidents in different environments, including adaptation of workplaces to
prevent occupational disabilities and diseases, and prevention of disability
resulting from pollution of the environment or armed conflict.
23. The term 'rehabilitation' refers to a process aimed at enabling persons
with disabilities to reach and maintain their optimal physical, sensory, intellectual,
psychiatric and/or social functional levels, thus providing them with the tools
to change their lives towards a higher level of independence. Rehabilitation
may include measures to provide and/or restore functions, or compensate for
the loss or absence of a function or for a functional limitation. The rehabilitation
process does not involve initial medical care. It includes a wide range of measures
and activities from more basic and general rehabilitation to goal-oriented activities,
for instance vocational rehabilitation.
Equalization of opportunities
24. The term 'equalization of opportunities' means the process through which
the various systems of society and the environment, such as services, activities,
information and documentation, are made available to all, particularly to persons
25. The principle of equal rights implies that the needs of each and every
individual are of equal importance, that those needs must be made the basis
for the planning of societies and that all resources must be employed in such
a way as to ensure that every individual has equal opportunity for participation.
26. Persons with disabilities are members of society and have the right to
remain within their local communities. They should receive the support they
need within the ordinary structures of education, health, employment and social
27. As persons with disabilities achieve equal rights, they should also have
equal obligations. As those rights are being achieved, societies should raise
their expectations of persons with disabilities. As part of the process of equal
opportunities, provision should be made to assist persons with disabilities
to assume their full responsibility as members of society.
Mindful of the pledge made, under the Charter of the United Nations, to take
joint and separate action in cooperation with the Organization to promote higher
standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social
progress and development,
Reaffirming the commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, social
justice and the dignity and worth of the human person proclaimed in the Charter,
Recalling in particular the international standards on human rights, which
have been laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights,
Underlining that those instruments proclaim that the rights recognized therein
should be ensured equally to all individuals without discrimination,
Recalling the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits discrimination
on the basis of disability and requires special measures to ensure the rights
of children with disabilities, and the International Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which provides
for some protective measures against disability,
Recalling also the provisions in the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women to ensure the rights of girls and
women with disabilities,
Having regard to the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, the Declaration
on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, the Declaration on Social Progress
and Development, the Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness
and for the Improvement of Mental Health Care and other relevant instruments
adopted by the General Assembly,
Also having regard to the relevant conventions and recommendations adopted
by the International Labour Organisation, with particular reference to participation
in employment without discrimination for persons with disabilities,
Mindful of the relevant recommendations and work of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization, in particular the World Declaration on
Education for All, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's
Fund and other concerned organizations,
Having regard to the commitment made by States concerning the protection of
Mindful of the devastation caused by armed conflict and deploring the use of
scarce resources in the production of weapons,
Recognizing that the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons
and the definition therein of equalization of opportunities represent earnest
ambitions on the part of the international community to render those various
international instruments and recommendations of practical and concrete significance,
Acknowledging that the objective of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons
(1983-1992) to implement the World Programme of Action is still valid and requires
urgent and continued action,
Recalling that the World Programme of Action is based on concepts that are
equally valid in developing and industrialized countries,
Convinced that intensified efforts are needed to achieve the full and equal
enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities,
Re-emphasizing that persons with disabilities, and their parents, guardians,
advocates and organizations, must be active partners with States in the planning
and implementation of all measures affecting their civil, political, economic,
social and cultural rights,
In pursuance of Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/26, and basing
themselves on the specific measures required for the attainment by persons with
disabilities of equality with others, enumerated in detail in the World Programme
Have adopted the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons
with Disabilities outlined below, in order:
- (a) To stress that all action in the field of disability presupposes adequate
knowledge and experience of the conditions and special needs of persons with
- (b) To emphasize that the process through which every aspect of societal
organization is made accessible to all is a basic objective of socio-economic
- (c) To outline crucial aspects of social policies in the field of disability,
including, as appropriate, the active encouragement of technical and economic
- (d) To provide models for the political decision-making process required
for the attainment of equal opportunities, bearing in mind the widely differing
technical and economic levels, the fact that the process must reflect keen
understanding of the cultural context within which it takes place and the
crucial role of persons with disabilities in it;
- (e) To propose national mechanisms for close collaboration among States,
the organs of the United Nations system, other intergovernmental bodies and
organizations of persons with disabilities;
- (f) To propose an effective machinery for monitoring the process by
- which States seek to attain the equalization of opportunities for persons
I. PRECONDITIONS FOR EQUAL PARTICIPATION
Rule 1. Awareness-raising
States should take action to raise awareness in society about persons with
disabilities, their rights, their needs, their potential and their contribution.
- 1. States should ensure that responsible authorities distribute up-to-date
information on available programmes and services to persons with disabilities,
their families, professionals in the field and the general public.
Information to persons with disabilities should be presented in accessible
- 2. States should initiate and support information campaigns concerning persons
with disabilities and disability policies, conveying the message that persons
with disabilities are citizens with the same rights and obligations as others,
thus justifying measures to remove all obstacles to full participation.
- 3. States should encourage the portrayal of persons with disabilities by
the mass media in a positive way; organizations of persons with disabilities
should be consulted on this matter.
- 4. States should ensure that public education programmes reflect in all
their aspects the principle of full participation and equality.
- 5. States should invite persons with disabilities and their families and
organizations to participate in public education programmes concerning disability
- 6. States should encourage enterprises in the private sector to include
disability issues in all aspects of their activity.
- 7. States should initiate and promote programmes aimed at raising the level
of awareness of persons with disabilities concerning their rights and potential.
Increased self-reliance and empowerment will assist persons with disabilities
to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
- 8. Awareness-raising should be an important part of the education of children
with disabilities and in rehabilitation programmes. Persons with disabilities
could also assist one another in awareness-raising through the activities
of their own organizations.
- 9. Awareness-raising should be part of the education of all children and
should be a component of teacher-training courses and training of all professionals.
Rule 2. Medical care
States should ensure the provision of effective medical care to persons with
- States should work towards the provision of programmes run by multidisciplinary
teams of professionals for early detection, assessment and treatment of impairment.
This could prevent, reduce or eliminate disabling effects. Such programmes
should ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities and their
families at the individual level, and of organizations of persons with disabilities
at the planning and evaluation level.
- Local community workers should be trained to participate in areas such
as early detection of impairments, the provision of primary assistance and
referral to appropriate services.
- States should ensure that persons with disabilities, particularly infants
and children, are provided with the same level of medical care within the
same system as other members of society.
- States should ensure that all medical and paramedical personnel are adequately
trained and equipped to give medical care to persons with disabilities and
that they have access to relevant treatment methods and technology.
- States should ensure that medical, paramedical and related personnel are
adequately trained so that they do not give inappropriate advice to parents,
thus restricting options for their children. This training should be an ongoing
process and should be based on the latest information available.
- States should ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with any
regular treatment and medicines they may need to preserve or improve their
level of functioning.
Rule 3. Rehabilitation*
States should ensure the provision of rehabilitation services to persons with
disabilities in order for them to reach and sustain their optimum level of independence
- States should develop national rehabilitation programmes for all groups
of persons with disabilities. Such programmes should be based on the actual
individual needs of persons with disabilities and on the principles of full
participation and equality.
- Such programmes should include a wide range of activities, such as basic
skills training to improve or compensate for an affected function, counselling
of persons with disabilities and their families, developing self-reliance,
and occasional services such as assessment and guidance.
- All persons with disabilities, including persons with severe and/or multiple
disabilities, who require rehabilitation should have access to it.
- Persons with disabilities and their families should be able to participate
in the design and organization of rehabilitation services concerning themselves.
- All rehabilitation services should be available in the local community
where the person with disabilities lives. However, in some instances, in order
to attain a certain training objective, special time-limited rehabilitation
courses may be organized, where appropriate, in residential form.
- Persons with disabilities and their families should be encouraged to involve
themselves in rehabilitation, for instance as trained teachers, instructors
- States should draw upon the expertise of organizations of persons with
disabilities when formulating or evaluating rehabilitation programmes.
Rule 4. Support services
States should ensure the development and supply of support services, including
assistive devices for persons with disabilities, to assist them to increase
their level of independence in their daily living and to exercise their rights.
- States should ensure the provision of assistive devices and equipment,
personal assistance and interpreter services, according to the needs of persons
with disabilities, as important measures to achieve the equalization of opportunities.
- States should support the development, production, distribution and servicing
of assistive devices and equipment and the dissemination of knowledge about
- To achieve this, generally available technical know-how should be utilized.
In States where high-technology industry is available, it should be fully
utilized to improve the standard and effectiveness of assistive devices and
equipment. It is important to stimulate the development and production of
simple and inexpensive devices, using local material and local production
facilities when possible. Persons with disabilities themselves could be involved
in the production of those devices.
- States should recognize that all persons with disabilities who need assistive
devices should have access to them as appropriate, including financial accessibility.
This may mean that assistive devices and equipment should be provided free
of charge or at such a low price that persons with disabilities or their families
can afford to buy them.
- In rehabilitation programmes for the provision of assistive devices and
equipment, States should consider the special requirements of girls and boys
with disabilities concerning the design, durability and age-appropriateness
of assistive devices and equipment.
- States should support the development and provision of personal assistance
programmes and interpretation services, especially for persons with severe
and/or multiple disabilities. Such programmes would increase the level of
participation of persons with disabilities in everyday life at home, at work,
in school and during leisure-time activities.
- Personal assistance programmes should be designed in such a way that the
persons with disabilities using the programmes have a decisive influence on
the way in which the programmes are delivered.
II. TARGET AREAS FOR EQUAL PARTICIPATION
Rule 5. Accessibility
States should recognize the overall importance of accessibility in the process
of the equalization of opportunities in all spheres of society. For persons
with disabilities of any kind, States should (a) introduce programmes of action
to make the physical environment accessible; and (b) undertake measures to provide
access to information and communication.
(a) Access to the physical environment
- States should initiate measures to remove the obstacles to participation
in the physical environment. Such measures should be to develop standards
and guidelines and to consider enacting legislation to ensure accessibility
to various areas in society, such as housing, buildings, public transport
services and other means of transportation, streets and other outdoor environments.
- States should ensure that architects, construction engineers and others
who are professionally involved in the design and construction of the physical
environment have access to adequate information on disability policy and measures
to achieve accessibility.
- Accessibility requirements should be included in the design and construction
of the physical environment from the beginning of the designing process.
- Organizations of persons with disabilities should be consulted when standards
and norms for accessibility are being developed. They should also be involved
locally from the initial planning stage when public construction projects
are being designed, thus ensuring maximum accessibility.
(b) Access to information and communication
5. Persons with disabilities and, where appropriate, their families and advocates
should have access to full information on diagnosis, rights and available services
and programmes, at all stages. Such information should be presented in forms
accessible to persons with disabilities.
6. States should develop strategies to make information services and documentation
accessible for different groups of persons with disabilities. Braille, tape
services, large print and other appropriate technologies should be used to provide
access to written information and documentation for persons with visual impairments.
Similarly, appropriate technologies should be used to provide access to spoken
information for persons with auditory impairments or comprehension difficulties.
7. Consideration should be given to the use of sign language in the education
of deaf children, in their families and communities. Sign language interpretation
services should also be provided to facilitate the communication between deaf
persons and others.
8. Consideration should also be given to the needs of people with other communication
9. States should encourage the media, especially television, radio and newspapers,
to make their services accessible.
10. States should ensure that new computerized information and service systems
offered to the general public are either made initially accessible or are adapted
to be made accessible to persons with disabilities.
11. Organizations of persons with disabilities should be consulted when measures
to make information services accessible are being developed.
Rule 6. Education
States should recognize the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary
educational opportunities for children, youth and adults with disabilities,
in integrated settings. They should ensure that the education of persons with
disabilities is an integral part of the educational system.
- General educational authorities are responsible for the education of persons
with disabilities in integrated settings. Education for persons with disabilities
should form an integral part of national educational planning, curriculum
development and school organization.
- Education in mainstream schools presupposes the provision of interpreter
and other appropriate support services. Adequate accessibility and support
services, designed to meet the needs of persons with different disabilities,
should be provided.
- Parent groups and organizations of persons with disabilities should be
involved in the education process at all levels.
- In States where education is compulsory it should be provided to girls
and boys with all kinds and all levels of disabilities, including the most
- Special attention should be given in the following areas:
- (a) Very young children with disabilities;
- (b) Pre-school children with disabilities;
- (c) Adults with disabilities, particularly women.
6. To accommodate educational provisions for persons with disabilities in the
mainstream, States should:
- (a) Have a clearly stated policy, understood and accepted at the school
level and by the wider community;
- (b) Allow for curriculum flexibility, addition and adaptation;
- (c) Provide for quality materials, ongoing teacher training and support
7. Integrated education and community-based programmes should be seen as complementary
approaches in providing cost-effective education and training for persons with
disabilities. National community-based programmes should encourage communities
to use and develop their resources to provide local education to persons with
8. In situations where the general school system does not yet adequately meet
the needs of all persons with disabilities, special education may be considered.
It should be aimed at preparing students for education in the general school
system. The quality of such education should reflect the same standards and
ambitions as general education and should be closely linked to it. At a minimum,
students with disabilities should be afforded the same portion of educational
resources as students without disabilities. States should aim for the gradual
integration of special education services into mainstream education. It is acknowledged
that in some instances special education may currently be considered to be the
most appropriate form of education for some students with disabilities.
9. Owing to the particular communication needs of deaf and deaf/blind persons,
their education may be more suitably provided in schools for such persons or
special classes and units in mainstream schools. At the initial stage, in particular,
special attention needs to be focused on culturally sensitive instruction that
will result in effective communication skills and maximum independence for people
who are deaf or deaf/blind.
Rule 7. Employment
States should recognize the principle that persons with disabilities must be
empowered to exercise their human rights, particularly in the field of employment.
In both rural and urban areas they must have equal opportunities for productive
and gainful employment in the labour market.
- Laws and regulations in the employment field must not discriminate against
persons with disabilities and must not raise obstacles to their employment.
- States should actively support the integration of persons with disabilities
into open employment. This active support could occur through a variety of
measures, such as vocational training, incentive-oriented quota schemes, reserved
or designated employment, loans or grants for small business, exclusive contracts
or priority production rights, tax concessions, contract compliance or other
technical or financial assistance to enterprises employing workers with disabilities.
States should also encourage employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate
persons with disabilities.
- States' action programmes should include:
- (a) Measures to design and adapt workplaces and work premises in such
- a way that they become accessible to persons with different disabilities;
- (b) Support for the use of new technologies and the development and production
of assistive devices, tools and equipment and measures to facilitate access
to such devices and equipment for persons with disabilities to enable them
to gain and maintain employment;
- (c) Provision of appropriate training and placement and ongoing
- support such as personal assistance and interpreter services.
4. States should initiate and support public awareness-raising campaigns designed
to overcome negative attitudes and prejudices concerning workers with disabilities.
5. In their capacity as employers, States should create favourable conditions
for the employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector.
6. States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate to ensure
equitable recruitment and promotion policies, employment conditions, rates of
pay, measures to improve the work environment in order to prevent injuries and
impairments and measures for the rehabilitation of employees who have sustained
7. The aim should always be for persons with disabilities to obtain employment
in the open labour market. For persons with disabilities whose needs cannot
be met in open employment, small units of sheltered or supported employment
may be an alternative. It is important that the quality of such programmes be
assessed in terms of their relevance and sufficiency in providing opportunities
for persons with disabilities to gain employment in the labour market.
8. Measures should be taken to include persons with disabilities in training
and employment programmes in the private and informal sectors.
9. States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate with organizations
of persons with disabilities concerning all measures to create training and
employment opportunities, including flexible hours, part-time work, job-sharing,
self-employment and attendant care for persons with disabilities.
Rule 8. Income maintenance and social security
States are responsible for the provision of social security and income maintenance
for persons with disabilities.
- States should ensure the provision of adequate income support to persons
with disabilities who, owing to disability or disability-related factors,
have temporarily lost or received a reduction in their income or have been
denied employment opportunities. States should ensure that the provision of
support takes into account the costs frequently incurred by persons with disabilities
and their families as a result of the disability.
- In countries where social security, social insurance or other social welfare
schemes exist or are being developed for the general population, States should
ensure that such systems do not exclude or discriminate against persons with
- States should also ensure the provision of income support and social security
protection to individuals who undertake the care of a person with a disability.
- Social security systems should include incentives to restore the income-earning
capacity of persons with disabilities. Such systems should provide or contribute
to the organization, development and financing of vocational training. They
should also assist with placement services.
- Social security programmes should also provide incentives for persons with
disabilities to seek employment in order to establish or re-establish their
- Income support should be maintained as long as the disabling conditions
remain in a manner that does not discourage persons with disabilities from
seeking employment. It should only be reduced or terminated when persons with
disabilities achieve adequate and secure income.
- States, in countries where social security is to a large extent provided
by the private sector, should encourage local communities, welfare organizations
and families to develop self-help measures and incentives for employment or
employment-related activities for persons with disabilities.
Rule 9. Family life and personal integrity
States should promote the full participation of persons with disabilities in
family life. They should promote their right to personal integrity and ensure
that laws do not discriminate against persons with disabilities with respect
to sexual relationships, marriage and parenthood.
- Persons with disabilities should be enabled to live with their families.
States should encourage the inclusion in family counselling of appropriate
modules regarding disability and its effects on family life. Respite-care
and attendant-care services should be made available to families which include
a person with disabilities. States should remove all unnecessary obstacles
to persons who want to foster or adopt a child or adult with disabilities.
- Persons with disabilities must not be denied the opportunity to experience
their sexuality, have sexual relationships and experience parenthood. Taking
into account that persons with disabilities may experience difficulties in
getting married and setting up a family, States should encourage the availability
of appropriate counselling. Persons with disabilities must have the same access
as others to family-planning methods, as well as to information in accessible
form on the sexual functioning of their bodies.
- States should promote measures to change negative attitudes towards marriage,
sexuality and parenthood of persons with disabilities, especially of girls
and women with disabilities, which still prevail in society. The media should
be encouraged to play an important role in removing such negative attitudes.
- Persons with disabilities and their families need to be fully informed
about taking precautions against sexual and other forms of abuse. Persons
with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse in the family, community
or institutions and need to be educated on how to avoid the occurrence of
abuse, recognize when abuse has occurred and report on such acts.
Rule 10. Culture
States will ensure that persons with disabilities are integrated into and can
participate in cultural activities on an equal basis.
- States should ensure that persons with disabilities have the opportunity
to utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for
their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of their community, be they
in urban or rural areas. Examples of such activities are dance, music, literature,
theatre, plastic arts, painting and sculpture. Particularly in developing
countries, emphasis should be placed on traditional and contemporary art forms,
such as puppetry, recitation and story-telling.
- States should promote the accessibility to and availability of places for
cultural performances and services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas and
libraries, to persons with disabilities.
- States should initiate the development and use of special technical arrangements
to make literature, films and theatre accessible to persons with disabilities.
Rule 11. Recreation and sports
States will take measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal
opportunities for recreation and sports.
- States should initiate measures to make places for recreation and sports,
hotels, beaches, sports arenas, gym halls, etc., accessible to persons with
disabilities. Such measures should encompass support for staff in recreation
and sports programmes, including projects to develop methods of accessibility,
and participation, information and training programmes.
- Tourist authorities, travel agencies, hotels, voluntary organizations and
others involved in organizing recreational activities or travel opportunities
should offer their services to all, taking into account the special needs
of persons with disabilities. Suitable training should be provided to assist
- Sports organizations should be encouraged to develop opportunities for
participation by persons with disabilities in sports activities. In some cases,
accessibility measures could be enough to open up opportunities for participation.
In other cases, special arrangements or special games would be needed. States
should support the participation of persons with disabilities in national
and international events.
- Persons with disabilities participating in sports activities should have
access to instruction and training of the same quality as other participants.
- Organizers of sports and recreation should consult with organizations of
persons with disabilities when developing their services for persons with
Rule 12. Religion
States will encourage measures for equal participation by persons with disabilities
in the religious life of their communities.
- States should encourage, in consultation with religious authorities, measures
to eliminate discrimination and make religious activities accessible to persons
- States should encourage the distribution of information on disability matters
to religious institutions and organizations. States should also encourage
religious authorities to include information on disability policies in the
training for religious professions, as well as in religious education programmes.
- They should also encourage the accessibility of religious literature to
persons with sensory impairments.
- States and/or religious organizations should consult with organizations
of persons with disabilities when developing measures for equal participation
in religious activities.
III. IMPLEMENTATION MEASURES
Rule 13. Information and research
States assume the ultimate responsibility for the collection and dissemination
of information on the living conditions of persons with disabilities and promote
comprehensive research on all aspects, including obstacles that affect the lives
of persons with disabilities.
- States should, at regular intervals, collect gender-specific statistics
and other information concerning the living conditions of persons with disabilities.
Such data collection could be conducted in conjunction with national censuses
and household surveys and could be undertaken in close collaboration, inter
alia, with universities, research institutes and organizations of persons
with disabilities. The data collection should include questions on programmes
and services and their use.
- States should consider establishing a data bank on disability, which would
include statistics on available services and programmes as well as on the
different groups of persons with disabilities. They should bear in mind the
need to protect individual privacy and personal integrity.
- States should initiate and support programmes of research on social, economic
and participation issues that affect the lives of persons with disabilities
and their families. Such research should include studies on the causes, types
and frequencies of disabilities, the availability and efficacy of existing
programmes and the need for development and evaluation of services and support
- States should develop and adopt terminology and criteria for the conduct
of national surveys, in cooperation with organizations of persons with disabilities.
- States should facilitate the participation of persons with disabilities
in data collection and research. To undertake such research States should
particularly encourage the recruitment of qualified persons with disabilities.
- States should support the exchange of research findings and experiences.
- States should take measures to disseminate information and knowledge on
disability to all political and administration levels within national, regional
and local spheres.
Rule 14. Policy-making and planning
States will ensure that disability aspects are included in all relevant policy-making
and national planning.
- States should initiate and plan adequate policies for persons with disabilities
at the national level, and stimulate and support action at regional and local
- States should involve organizations of persons with disabilities in all
decision-making relating to plans and programmes concerning persons with disabilities
or affecting their economic and social status.
- The needs and concerns of persons with disabilities should be incorporated
into general development plans and not be treated separately.
- The ultimate responsibility of States for the situation of persons with
disabilities does not relieve others of their responsibility. Anyone in charge
of services, activities or the provision of information in society should
be encouraged to accept responsibility for making such programmes available
to persons with disabilities.
- States should facilitate the development by local communities of programmes
and measures for persons with disabilities. One way of doing this could be
to develop manuals or check-lists and provide training programmes for local
Rule 15. Legislation
States have a responsibility to create the legal bases for measures to achieve
the objectives of full participation and equality for persons with disabilities.
1. National legislation, embodying the rights and obligations of citizens,
should include the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities.
States are under an obligation to enable persons with disabilities to exercise
their rights, including their human, civil and political rights, on an equal
basis with other citizens. States must ensure that organizations of persons
with disabilities are involved in the development of national legislation concerning
the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as in the ongoing evaluation
of that legislation.
2. Legislative action may be needed to remove conditions that may adversely
affect the lives of persons with disabilities, including harassment and victimization.
Any discriminatory provisions against persons with disabilities must be eliminated.
National legislation should provide for appropriate sanctions in case of violations
of the principles of non-discrimination.
3. National legislation concerning persons with disabilities may appear in
two different forms. The rights and obligations may be incorporated in general
legislation or contained in special legislation. Special legislation for persons
with disabilities may be established in several ways:
- (a) By enacting separate legislation, dealing exclusively with disability
- (b) By including disability matters within legislation on particular topics;
- (c) By mentioning persons with disabilities specifically in the texts
- that serve to interpret existing legislation.
A combination of those different approaches might be desirable. Affirmative
action provisions may also be considered.
4. States may consider establishing formal statutory complaints mechanisms
in order to protect the interests of persons with disabilities.
Rule 16. Economic policies
States have the financial responsibility for national programmes and measures
to create equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- States should include disability matters in the regular budgets of all
national, regional and local government bodies.
- States, non-governmental organizations and other interested bodies should
interact to determine the most effective ways of supporting projects and measures
relevant to persons with disabilities.
- States should consider the use of economic measures (loans, tax exemptions,
earmarked grants, special funds, and so on) to stimulate and support equal
participation by persons with disabilities in society.
- In many States it may be advisable to establish a disability development
fund, which could support various pilot projects and self-help programmes
at the grass-roots level.
Rule 17. Coordination of work
States are responsible for the establishment and strengthening of national
coordinating committees, or similar bodies, to serve as a national focal point
on disability matters.
- The national coordinating committee or similar bodies should be permanent
and based on legal as well as appropriate administrative regulation.
- A combination of representatives of private and public organizations is
most likely to achieve an intersectoral and multidisciplinary composition.
Representatives could be drawn from concerned government ministries, organizations
of persons with disabilities and non-governmental organizations.
- Organizations of persons with disabilities should have considerable influence
in the national coordinating committee in order to ensure proper feedback
of their concerns.
- The national coordinating committee should be provided with sufficient
autonomy and resources to fulfil its responsibilities in relation to its decision-making
capacities. It should report to the highest governmental level.
Rule 18. Organizations of persons with disabilities
States should recognize the right of the organizations of persons with disabilities
to represent persons with disabilities at national, regional and local levels.
States should also recognize the advisory role of organizations of persons with
disabilities in decision-making on disability matters.
- States should encourage and support economically and in other ways the
formation and strengthening of organizations of persons with disabilities,
family members and/or advocates. States should recognize that those organizations
have a role to play in the development of disability policy.
- States should establish ongoing communication with organizations of persons
with disabilities and ensure their participation in the development of government
- The role of organizations of persons with disabilities could be to identify
needs and priorities, to participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation
of services and measures concerning the lives of persons with disabilities,
and to contribute to public awareness and to advocate change.
- As instruments of self-help, organizations of persons with disabilities
provide and promote opportunities for the development of skills in various
fields, mutual support among members and information sharing.
- Organizations of persons with disabilities could perform their advisory
role in many different ways such as having permanent representation on boards
of government-funded agencies, serving on public commissions and providing
expert knowledge on different projects.
- The advisory role of organizations of persons with disabilities should
be ongoing in order to develop and deepen the exchange of views and information
between the State and the organizations.
- Organizations should be permanently represented on the national coordinating
committee or similar bodies.
- The role of local organizations of persons with disabilities should be
developed and strengthened to ensure that they influence matters at the community
Rule 19. Personnel training
States are responsible for ensuring the adequate training of personnel, at
all levels, involved in the planning and provision of programmes and services
concerning persons with disabilities.
- States should ensure that all authorities providing services in the disability
field give adequate training to their personnel.
- In the training of professionals in the disability field, as well as in
the provision of information on disability in general training programmes,
the principle of full participation and equality should be appropriately reflected.
- States should develop training programmes in consultation with organizations
of persons with disabilities, and persons with disabilities should be involved
as teachers, instructors or advisers in staff training programmes.
- The training of community workers is of great strategic importance, particularly
in developing countries. It should involve persons with disabilities and include
the development of appropriate values, competence and technologies as well
as skills which can be practised by persons with disabilities, their parents,
families and members of the community.
Rule 20. National monitoring and evaluation of disability programmes in the
implementation of the Rules
States are responsible for the continuous monitoring and evaluation of the
implementation of national programmes and services concerning the equalization
of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- States should periodically and systematically evaluate national disability
programmes and disseminate both the bases and the results of the evaluations.
- States should develop and adopt terminology and criteria for the evaluation
of disability-related programmes and services.
- Such criteria and terminology should be developed in close cooperation
with organizations of persons with disabilities from the earliest conceptual
and planning stages.
- States should participate in international cooperation in order to develop
common standards for national evaluation in the disability field. States should
encourage national coordinating committees to participate also.
- The evaluation of various programmes in the disability field should be
built in at the planning stage, so that the overall efficacy in fulfilling
their policy objectives can be evaluated.
Rule 21. Technical and economic cooperation
States, both industrialized and developing, have the responsibility to cooperate
in and take measures for the improvement of the living conditions of persons
with disabilities in developing countries.
- Measures to achieve the equalization of opportunities of persons with disabilities,
including refugees with disabilities, should be integrated into general development
- Such measures must be integrated into all forms of technical and economic
cooperation, bilateral and multilateral, governmental and non-governmental.
States should bring up disability issues in discussions on such cooperation
with their counterparts.
- When planning and reviewing programmes of technical and economic cooperation,
special attention should be given to the effects of such programmes on the
situation of persons with disabilities. It is of the utmost importance that
persons with disabilities and their organizations are consulted on any development
projects designed for persons with disabilities. They should be directly involved
in the development, implementation and evaluation of such projects.
- Priority areas for technical and economic cooperation should include:
- (a) The development of human resources through the development of skills,
abilities and potentials of persons with disabilities and the initiation of
employment-generating activities for and of persons with disabilities;
- (b) The development and dissemination of appropriate disability-related
technologies and know-how.
5. States are also encouraged to support the formation and strengthening of
organizations of persons with disabilities.
6. States should take measures to improve the knowledge of disability issues
among staff involved at all levels in the administration of technical and economic
Rule 22. International cooperation
States will participate actively in international cooperation concerning policies
for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- Within the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other concerned
intergovernmental organizations, States should participate in the development
of disability policy.
- Whenever appropriate, States should introduce disability aspects in general
negotiations concerning standards, information exchange, development programmes,
- States should encourage and support the exchange of knowledge and experience
- (a) Non-governmental organizations concerned with disability issues;
- (b) Research institutions and individual researchers involved in disability
- (c) Representatives of field programmes and of professional groups in the
- (d) Organizations of persons with disabilities;
- (e) National coordinating committees.
4. States should ensure that the United Nations and the specialized agencies,
as well as all intergovernmental and interparliamentary bodies, at global and
regional levels, include in their work the global and regional organizations
of persons with disabilities.
IV. MONITORING MECHANISM
- The purpose of a monitoring mechanism is to further the effective implementation
of the Rules. It will assist each State in assessing its level of implementation
of the Rules and in measuring its progress. The monitoring should identify
obstacles and suggest suitable measures that would contribute to the successful
implementation of the Rules. The monitoring mechanism will recognize the economic,
social and cultural features existing in individual States. An important element
should also be the provision of advisory services and the exchange of experience
and information between States.
- The Rules shall be monitored within the framework of the sessions of the
Commission for Social Development. A Special Rapporteur with relevant and
extensive experience in disability issues and international organizations
shall be appointed, if necessary, funded by extrabudgetary resources, for
three years to monitor the implementation of the Rules.
- International organizations of persons with disabilities having consultative
status with the Economic and Social Council and organizations representing
persons with disabilities who have not yet formed their own organizations
should be invited to create among themselves a panel of experts, on which
organizations of persons with disabilities shall have a majority, taking into
account the different kinds of disabilities and necessary equitable geographical
distribution, to be consulted by the Special Rapporteur and, when appropriate,
by the Secretariat.
- The panel of experts will be encouraged by the Special Rapporteur to review,
advise and provide feedback and suggestions on the promotion, implementation
and monitoring of the Rules.
- The Special Rapporteur shall send a set of questions to States, entities
within the United Nations system, and intergovernmental and non-governmental
organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities. The set
of questions should address implementation plans for the Rules in States.
The questions should be selective in nature and cover a number of specific
rules for in-depth evaluation. In preparing the questions the Special Rapporteur
should consult with the panel of experts and the Secretariat.
- The Special Rapporteur shall seek to establish a direct dialogue not only
with States but also with local non-governmental organizations, seeking their
views and comments on any information intended to be included in the reports.
The Special Rapporteur shall provide advisory services on the implementation
and monitoring of the Rules and assistance in the preparation of replies to
the sets of questions.
- The Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development of the
Secretariat, as the United Nations focal point on disability issues, the United
Nations Development Programme and other entities and mechanisms within the
United Nations system, such as the regional commissions and specialized agencies
and inter-agency meetings, shall cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in
the implementation and monitoring of the Rules at the national level.
- The Special Rapporteur, assisted by the Secretariat, shall prepare reports
for submission to the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-fourth
and thirty-fifth sessions. In preparing such reports, the Rapporteur should
consult with the panel of experts.
- States should encourage national coordinating committees or similar bodies
to participate in implementation and monitoring. As the focal points on disability
matters at the national level, they should be encouraged to establish procedures
to coordinate the monitoring of the Rules. Organizations of persons with disabilities
should be encouraged to be actively involved in the monitoring of the process
at all levels.
- Should extrabudgetary resources be identified, one or more positions of
interregional adviser on the Rules should be created to provide direct services
to States, including:
- (a) The organization of national and regional training seminars on the content
of the Rules;
- (b) The development of guidelines to assist in strategies for implementation
of the Rules;
- (c) Dissemination of information about best practices concerning implementation
of the Rules.
11. At its thirty-fourth session, the Commission for Social Development should
establish an open-ended working group to examine the Special Rapporteur's report
and make recommendations on how to improve the application of the Rules. In
examining the Special Rapporteur's report, the Commission, through its open-ended
working group, shall consult international organizations of persons with disabilities
and specialized agencies, in accordance with rules 71 and 76 of the rules of
procedure of the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council.
12. At its session following the end of the Special Rapporteur's mandate, the
Commission should examine the possibility of either renewing that mandate, appointing
a new Special Rapporteur or considering another monitoring mechanism, and should
make appropriate recommendations to the Economic and Social Council.
13. States should be encouraged to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary
Fund on Disability in order to further the implementation of the Rules.
Home || Treaties
|| Search || Links