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Swiss disabled groups launch initiative for greater inclusion

The groups, which included the Swiss Federation of Blind and Partially Sighted People, gathered outside the parliament building in the capital Bern on Wednesday to present their initiative. Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

Various disabled organisations in Switzerland have come together to launch a people’s initiative demanding greater political participation and inclusion of people with disabilities.

This content was published on September 15, 2021 - 13:47
Keystone-SDA/sb

The groups, which included the Swiss Federation of Deaf People and the Swiss Federation of Blind and Partially Sighted People, gathered outside the parliament building in the capital Bern on Wednesday to present their initiative.

Switzerland ratified the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in April 2014, committing to “eliminate obstacles disabled people face, to protect them from discrimination and to promote their inclusion and equality within society”.

But the groups claim that Switzerland has not done enough to meet the obligations laid out in the treaty.

Ten years after its introduction, the state disability insurance benefit remains “minimalist”, the groups said. They say people with disabilities should receive the appropriate human and technical resources to be able to participate fully and autonomously in society.

According to Islam Alijaj, co-initiator of the initiative and president of the Tatkraft association, the initiative is about “real participation, real respect and real choices”. The father of two children has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

Around 1.8 million people in Switzerland, out of a population of 8.6 million, live with a disability. Among them, the Swiss Federation of Deaf People estimates there are 10,000 deaf people in Switzerland and a further 800,000 classified a s hard of hearing in a population of 8.6 million. According to a study by the Swiss National Association of and for Blind People, around 337,000 visually impaired people lived in Switzerland last year: around 4% of the Swiss population.

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