Disability-analysis of reports from States, which will be reviewed by the crc in its 53rd Session

A. Children with disabilities (art. 23)

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A. Children with disabilities (art. 23)

264. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to ensure that equal access to services, including cultural and recreational activities, is provided to children with disabilities. See the Committee’s observations 29-30. To ensure equality and equal possibilities for participation independent of disabilities is an important objective in the Government’s policy. The disabled today have protection against discrimination in working conditions. It is, however, important that the protection against discrimination applies to all areas of society where persons with disabilities may be exposed to discrimination. A separate discrimination and accessibility law will be an important step in the direction to gain rights for the disabled.

Proposal for new discrimination and accessibility law

265. The Ministry of Children and Equality aims at proposing an anti-discrimination and accessibility law to Parliament. The proposal follows up the Syse Committee’s law proposal in the Official Norwegian Report NOU 2005: 8 “Equal status and accessibility”. The legislative proposal includes prohibition against discrimination for reasons of disability. The committee proposes that the law shall apply to all areas of society, including the working life. This will be a prohibition against direct and indirect discrimination, against harassment, against instructions whether to discriminate or harass, etc. is proposed. The committee also proposes separate rules concerning obligation to physical adaptation, through obligation to general adaptation as well as individual adaptation, and it is proposed that violations of the obligations are to be considered discrimination. The proposal includes shared burden of proof and reactions. The committee proposes that the law is enforced by the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud and the Norwegian Equality Tribunal, which already enforces other legislation with discrimination protection.

266. In order to follow up the law, a separate plan of action for accessibility, among other things, will be developed. Lack of accessibility is an important barrier which keeps the disabled from participating along the same lines as others in society. Furthermore, the Government aims at revising the strategy plan for families who have children with disabilities to improve the conditions for these children and their families. 

The plan of action for increased accessibility

267. In 2006, the Government has started work with a new plan of action for accessibility. It is envisaged that central areas of efforts in the plan will be buildings, outdoor areas/planning, transport, IT and work. The plan of action will be an important means for building up the implementation of the new discrimination and accessibility law. The existing plan of action for increased accessibility for persons with disabilities will be continued in 2008.

268. In the Government’s plan of action, one of the measures is the development of a collection of examples which show sound solutions for universally designed outdoor areas by kindergartens, at schools and in the community. The purpose is to present how one may use the municipal planning process to obtain good versatile and inclusive outdoor spaces which is for all children. The examples shall include the outdoor areas in addition to the buildings. The target group for this collection of examples (documentation) is the authorities responsible for planning and expansion and rehabilitation of kindergartens, schools and the community.

269. In the plan of action, focus is also placed on outdoor areas which shall be modelled so that they are adapted for all. The Ministry of the Environment works with integrating universal modelling in outdoor work, and through funding from the Directorate for Nature Management, grants are given for measures to increase the accessibility to green areas in cities and densely populated areas. A number of municipalities have already made their walking paths accessible for everybody.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

270. Norway signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 30 March 2007. The Government wishes to ratify the Convention as soon as possible, but is temporarily unsure when a proposal to Parliament may be submitted. The reason is that it could be necessary to make some amendments to existing national legislation.

271. Norway has not signed the Optional Protocol that gives the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities competence to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of persons or groups of persons who claim to be victims of a violation of the Convention. Before Norway ratifies this protocol, there is a need for a study of what this could imply for Norway, especially in relation to the economic, social and cultural rights in the Convention. The work for this impact study has begun.

Disabled children in kindergarten

272. The right to priority in admission in kindergarten for children with disabilities is maintained in the Kindergarten Act of 2005 section 13. See Norway’s third report, paragraph 318.

273. Adaptability of the physical surrounding is often a condition for participation. In accordance with the Kindergarten Act of 2005 section 10, reference is made to section 2, fourth paragraph on the approval of the kindergarten’s suitability. The kindergarten shall take into account children’s different levels of function and accessibility for everyone is an important consideration in designing the kindergarten. Furthermore, it follows from the framework plan that in planning the kindergarten’s design, consideration must be taken of society’s goal for dismantling of disabling barriers. Planning, localizing and building of new kindergartens should be based on the principle of universal design. In December 2006, Guide for designing the kindergarten’s outdoor areas was completed.

274. Adaptability of the kindergarten for children who have disabilities often implies extra expenses for the owner of the kindergarten. Therefore earmarked grants are given from the state for such measures. Reference is made to Norway’s third report paragraph 318. The state grant to children with disabilities in kindergartens is allocated according to the number at each facility. Approximately NOK 736 million was allocated in grants to the municipalities.

275. The Norwegian Centre for Child Research (NOSEB) has submitted the report physically disabled children in kindergarten. Knowledge status and research challenges in April 2005. The report emphasizes that there is a need for more research, particularly with emphasis on the kindergarten’s content and quality in its services for children with disabilities. In the same report, reference is made to studies where the personnel in the kindergarten state that they are not fully professionally updated in relation to children with disabilities. In order to meet this need, in 2007 a pamphlet on the subject of children with disabilities was published. This pamphlet shall contribute to increase the competence of the personnel in facilitating a good programme for children with disabilities.

276. The programme for practice-oriented research and development in primary education and teacher training (PrakisisFoU) was strengthened and extended in 2006, also applying to the kindergarten sector. The kindergarten part of the programme is given an annual allocation of NOK 15.5 million in the period 2006-2009. To strengthen knowledge concerning the qualitative programme for children with disabilities, NOK 2.5 million of the annual appropriation is meant to be utilised for research on children with disabilities in kindergartens.

Children with disabilities in the school

277. Education in primary and lower secondary schools and upper secondary schools shall, among other things, promote inclusion of the disabled. The main rule is that the disabled shall attend normal classes with other children and young people at the local primary and lower secondary schools. Students who have sign language as their first language, have the right to primary and lower secondary school as well as upper secondary education in sign language. The visually impaired and the blind students have the right to necessary education in Braille and training in the use of necessary technical equipment. The students also have the right to necessary training to find their way around school, to and from the school and in the home environment.

278. In 2006, the State-run county offices had implemented a common national supervision in the area of education. The objective with the supervision was to study how the municipalities fulfil their obligations to have a proper system for consideration and follow-up so that requirements in the Education Act are fulfilled. This also implies, inter alia, the legal provisions concerning inclusion. The supervision shows that the majority of the municipalities, which have been subject to supervision, do not fulfil the requirements to have such a system.

Disabled children’s opportunities to pursue sports

279. In the allocation of income from state-controlled gambling, there is a separate contribution scheme for groups with special needs. The goal with this arrangement is to contribute so that disabled, and especially children and young people, shall receive an opportunity to participate in sports and physical activity. In addition, there is a requirement for receiving such funding that the sports facilities are adapted to all user groups, including the disabled. There is also guidance in allocation of income from gambling to the Norwegian Confederation of Sports (NIF) that disabled athletes shall be fully integrated in NIF and the different individual activities of the federations. The integration process is expected to be completed in the course of 2007.

Disabled children and leisure activities

280. Through the contribution scheme “Urban Children and Youth Projects”, the Ministry of Children and Equality provides support for measures and projects which contribute to equal opportunities for children and young people with disabilities. This can be physical adaptation so that children and young people with disabilities can participate in ordinary leisure activities or specially-adapted activities and programmes for the target group. When the urban municipalities, to a small degree, have applied for funding for this target group, in meeting with the municipalities, the Ministry has encourage them to particularly to apply for leisure measures directed toward young people with disabilities. This has resulted in three of the cities having applied and received consent for their applications. The measures were not only about special activities and groups for young people with disabilities, but also measures to contribute to including these young people in activities for young people in general.

Organization support to disabled young people

281. In 2007, 16 non-governmental organizations for children and young people with disabilities, as well as the umbrella organization Norwegian Federation of Youth Organisations of Disabled People, received core funding from the Ministry of Children and Equality. These types of organizations, where children and young people are together with others who have the same disabilities, can be a platform for developing a confidence which can make it easier to develop social competence in other children and youth’s milieus. At the same time, it is an important goal to contribute so that all children and young people as far as possible are included in their local community, and thus in the local children and youth organizations.

Strategy plan for families with children who have disabilities

282. The strategy plan for families with children who have disabilities was submitted in 2005. It had its background in Report to Parliament No. 40 (2002-2003), Dismantling of disabilities barriers, where the situation for families with children with disabilities was particularly discussed. The aim of the plan was “to give an overview of strategies and measures which are or will be implemented to improve the child’s and the family’s total situation”.

283. The plan is continued by the present Government and a series of measures will be implemented which shall contribute to ensuring that families with children who have disabilities shall have the same opportunity as others to live an independent and active life, and be able to participate in working life as well as social life to the same extent as others. The measures are divided into the main categories: kindergartens, schools, municipal health and social services, specialist health services, national insurance benefits and financial measures, housing, communication and support to the family.

284. The plan’s strategies and measures reflect that children with disabilities and their families often have need for assistance from various parts of the public assistance network; health services in the form of medical help and psychosocial support, competence-building services, technical means assistance, social services, special educational assistance, kindergarten and school programmes, financial support arrangements and assistance to solving housing problems. Focus is given to coordination of measures and information concerning rights and support arrangement. In Proposition to Parliament No. 1 (2006-2007), notice is given that the Government aims to revise the strategy plan, and work is now being carried out to follow this up.
363. New schools which shall be authorised according to the Private School Act must fulfil prescribed requirements for their basis. Schools that are approved with the right to state subsidies, shall pursue their activities on either religious bases, according to a recognized educational direction or be an international school which is certified. In addition, the law gives a possibility for approval with the right to state subsidies to specially adjusted upper secondary education in combination with top-level athletics, Norwegian primary and lower secondary school training abroad and specially adjusted schools for the disabled.
392. In relation to the total student body in primary and lower secondary schools, the portion of the students attending special schools has been relatively constant in the last decades, between 0.3 and 0.4 per cent of the students. Approximately two-thirds of the children with hearing disabilities attend their locale schools in the neighbourhood. The rest attend school branches at the state competence centres for the hearing disabled.
457. The authorities have recently considered and implemented a coordination of the integration grant for refugees with known disabilities, with a scheme for additional financing for particularly resource-demanding users. Families with children are prioritized in the settlement work, and several measures to improve the situation have been initiated. The most difficult settlement cases are, however, related to persons with major health problems, be they children or adults in a family. So long as it is voluntary for the municipalities to settle, the state has no sanction possibilities against the municipalities. The State has, however, an incentive programme in the ordinary integration grant, and the special integration grant for refugees with known disabilities. The concept “disability” is here extended to cover both mental and somatic suffering, as well as behavioural difficulties. In coordinating the integration grant scheme for refugees with known disabilities, the additional financing scheme for particularly resource-demanding users, one has established an arrangement which shall give the municipalities better incentives to settle persons with considerable health problems, including children.
List of Issues

3. Please provide the Committee with updated information on the State party’s intention to ratify the Convention on Persons with Disabilities and on the impact study regarding implications of ratifying the Optional Protocol to aforementioned Convention. In light of the Government’s stated intention in 2006-07 to revise the Strategy plan for families with children who have disabilities, please also provide updated information on the proposed revision of the Strategy plan.

Written Replies
3.Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Before the Convention can be ratified, Norwegian legislation on legal capacity and guardianship has to be amended. The Government’s proposal for new legislation is now being considered in the Storting. The Government is also considering other legislation and measures in this area, with a view to ratification in 2010. The Government will also examine the possibility of ratifying the Optional Protocol to the CRPD following ratification of the Convention.

The 2005 Strategy plan for families with children who have disabilities will be reviewed and measures for better relief care and aid to families with severely disabled children will be introduced during the 2009–2013 parliamentary period.
Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act

A new anti-discrimination and accessibility act entered into force on 1 January 2009. The Act prohibits discrimination on the ground of disability and sets out a duty of general accommodation (universal design) of areas and buildings open to the public. It also imposes an obligation relevant to children with disabilities: reasonable individual accommodation in day-care institutions, schools and other educational institutions such as universities.

Concluding Observations


19. The Committee welcomes the entry into force in January 2006 of the Antidiscrimination Act and the establishment also in 2006 of an Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud, an Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal and the adoption of an Action Plan to Promote Equality and Prevent Ethnic Discrimination. The Committee takes note of the ongoing debate as to whether age discrimination of children should be included in the law and whether children should be given the right to file complaints if they are discriminated against due to their age. However, it is concerned at information, including from children, that minority and indigenous children feel stigmatized and maltreated, including by other children, and that children with disabilities complain that their rights are not respected.

20. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary steps to combat discrimination against children from minority groups, indigenous children and children with disabilities and to familiarize children from an early age with the right of every child to be protected against discrimination. The Committee also recommends that the State party carefully examine the possibility of expanding legislation to provide protection of children against discrimination on the grounds of their age.

62. The Committee recommends the State party to consider ratifying international human rights instruments which are also relevant for the implementation of child rights, to which it is not yet party, namely the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Mental Health

42. While noting that mental health services for children are being improved through the National Programme for Mental Health, the Committee is concerned at the increasingly long waiting period for mental health care for children and young people. The Committee is also seriously concerned about studies that indicate a rapid increase within a short period of time of the prescription to children of psycho-stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

43. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to develop all components of a mental health care system for children and young people, including prevention, treatment of common mental health problems in primary health care and specialised care for serious disorders through an increasing number of specially trained professionals working with children in the field of mental health care, and reduce the waiting period in mental health services. The Committee also recommends that the State party carefully examine the phenomenon of over-prescription of psycho-stimulants to children and take initiatives to provide children diagnosed with ADHD, as well as their parents and teachers, with access to a wide range of psychological, educational and social measures and treatments.
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References to persons with disabilities in State report, List of issues, Written replies and Concluding observations.
State Report

(Paragraphs 14, 15, 26, 32(g), 36, 45, 58, 74, 127-128, 132, 143, 245-247, 255, 258-278 (Disabled children), 332 and 338).

32. In the Law on Education and Law on Primary and Secondary Education, the following specific provisions were introduced or amended:

(g) State budget allocated to education shall be responsive to different geographical locations and sensitive to the specific learning needs of children with disabilities;

36. In 2006, with the participation of children, the NAC12 organized a National Forum on Child and Youth Development and a Forum for Disabled Children “Let’s develop ourselves together”. Participants of the first forum drafted a policy paper on child and youth development. The latter forum proposed a draft of a policy for disabled children. Moreover, the NAC has signed a bilateral contract in cooperation with some NGOs including the Mongolian Association of School Social Workers, Youth Red Cross, and National Centre for Rights of Disabled Women.

45. The NHRC and NAC jointly developed a “Procedure on Selecting Child Envoys”. The Child Envoy is an alternative name for ombudsman. By 2006, 150 individuals were appointed as Child Envoys at all levels of the Government. Child Envoys have been provided with training on some methods of monitoring, reporting and following up the cases of violations against the children’s rights. For instance, aimag and soum Child Envoys received training for working with disabled children. However, the Government recognizes that the Child Envoy system is in its embryo stage in both rural and urban areas.

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