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Categories: HEADLINES
The delegates at the National Disability Rights Summit in Irene, City of Tshwane, constituting more than 300 representatives of disabled people organisations, parents organisations, disability service organisations, national and provincial government departments, municipalities, institutions promoting democracy, non-governmental organisations, institutions of higher and further education and training, the business sector, and international development agencies are taking individual and collective responsibility to ensure that the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is implemented successfully.

Noting that

1.                 The Constitution of 1996 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and guarantees the right to equality for all persons with disabilities;

2.                 South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its Optional Protocol without reservation in 2007;

3.                 Progress has been made over the past 21 years of democracy in approaching the rights of persons with disabilities within a human rights and socio-political context, moving away from a welfare and medical approach to disability;

4.                 Persons with disabilities in South Africa however continue to experience unacceptably high levels of exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination;

5.                 Children and adults with disabilities live in every community, and must therefore be visible in every playground, early childhood development centre and programme, school, college, university, place of work, sportsground and place of worship;

6.                 Persons with disabilities is not a homogenous group, and race, age, gender, severity of impairment, geographical location, sexual orientation and socio-economic status impact on access to services and opportunities;

7.                 The right to self-representation is not negotiable, and require strong accountable and representative organisations of persons with disabilities at all levels of governance, and cognisant of race, gender, age, geographical location and impairment-specific nuances;

Furthermore noting that

8.                 Cabinet approved the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 9 December 2015;

9.                 Mainstreaming of delivery on disability rights are the responsibility of everyone and the principles of universal design must be applied in the manner in which we design, plan, budget and deliver programmes and services;

Furthermore noting that

10.             The aim of the Presidency is “to facilitate a common programme towards the achievement of the electoral mandate and the enhanced integrity of state - through considered planning, co-ordination, oversight, mobilisation and support to this end.”

11.             The collection of evidence that demonstrate access and participation by persons with disabilities to opportunities and services, is central to enable reporting on progress in reducing inequality and poverty experienced by persons with disabilities;

12.             A policy is a commitment statement that is not enforceable, and there is therefore a need to ensure that all obligations contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and all the policy directives of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities be captured in law;

13.             Institutions promoting democracy, as well other oversight institutions such Parliament and the provincial legislatures, play an important role in strengthening accountability of duty-bearers and providing recourse for rights-holders;

14.             Equality courts are under-utilised by persons with disabilities;

15.             The right to self-representation by persons with disabilities on matters affecting their lives, is enshrined in the Constitutional values of freedom of association as well as the UNCRPD;

16.             Only representative organisations of persons with disabilities can represent persons with disabilities and must be accountable to their constituencies;

17.             There are nine health-related goals that are relevant to improving the lives of persons with disabilities aimed at  transforming the health care system by removing attitudinal, physical, communication and information barriers; skilling health personnel to provide equitable services to persons with disabilities; reducing the cost of medical care and strengthening access to disability-specific health services; and living with dignity, and contributing better to the development of their communities and the economy;

18.             The National Policy on Early Childhood Development approved by Cabinet in December 2015 commits government to equitable access and participation to ECD for children with disabilities;

19.             White Paper 6 on Inclusive Education commits government to the creation of a single education system whereby learners with disabilities have access to appropriate levels of support in neighbourhood schools;

20.             Government’s commitment to ensure that, by 2021, no child with disability will be out of school, and that all children with disabilities preferably attending their local neighbourhood schools, will receive the necessary support, contradicts the immediate right to education enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of 1996;

21.             There is no uniform funding model for post school training and education reasonable accommodation support to persons with disabilities, and NSFAS funding is not accessible for students with disabilities falling just outside the means test;

22.             Significant progress has been made in providing access to post school education and training for young persons with disabilities, although equitable access to support services that allow for participation across all campuses have been lagging behind;

23.             Many disability organisations provide accessible and relevant post school training programmes which lead to positive socio-economic outcomes for persons with disabilities;

24.             Learnerships as currently structured often do not contribute positively to improved socio-economic outcomes for persons with disabilities;

25.             South African Sign Language is the first language of Deaf South Africans and must be recognised as such as an official language;

26.             Braille both in hard copy and electronic format is a necessary and legitimate alternative reading and writing format for persons who are blind, and tactile graphics with accompanying braille or audio description must be understood as an integral part of braille as the alternate reading and writing format for blind persons;

27.             The Minister of Basic Education decreed in 2011 that all educators of blind learners must know braille by 2014, but that implementation has not been universally implemented across all provinces;

28.             The right to equal recognition before the law for all persons, regardless of severity of impairment or geographical location, is enshrined in our Constitution and also an obligation contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

29.             Further engagement is required between key stakeholders on the interpretation of Article 12, and the engagement process needs to affirm the principle of self-representation by rights-holders;

30.             The South African Law Reform Commission has concluded its investigations into a legal framework for supported decision-making in South Africa;

31.             Traditional healers play a pivotal role in the service delivery value chain for persons with psychosocial and neurological disabilities and should therefore be an integral component of measures taken to uphold the rights-holders;

32.             The WHO Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) matrix provides a sound basis from which to plan community based disability-specific services, and must be implemented within the social model of disability, placing representative organisations of persons with disabilities at the centre of decision-making;

33.             Persons with disabilities are currently excluded from community activities and opportunities due to the lack of universal design access to information and communication and the built environment;

34.             Enforcement of, and compliance with current standards in the building industry is generally poor;

35.             South Africa enter into International Agreements for purposes of project and programme financing as well as technical assistance;

36.             The African Renaissance Fund housed at DIRCO promotes international cooperation on the African continent;

37.             The Sustainable Development Goals have incorporated specific measures and indicators to ensure effective delivery on disability rights in the Post 2015 Development Agenda;

38.             The United Nations Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through its Multi-Party Fund made a significant contribution to the progress made in advancing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in South Africa over the past 2 years.




Believing that

39.             Persons with disabilities in South Africa have equal rights and obligations as their fellow citizens and residents;

40.             Implementation of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities heralds a new era of activism in promoting, protecting and upholding the rights of all persons with disabilities in South Africa;

41.             Persons with disabilities must be placed at the centre of all transformation-oriented programmes.

Furthermore believing that

42.             Effective coordination of implementation of the White Paper requires the authority of The Presidency;

43.             The collection of disability equity evidence must have a direct positive impact on persons with disabilities, their environment and society;

44.             Representative organisations of persons with disabilities play a central role in monitoring process with the  implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

45.             Rights-holders must be informed about their rights and recourse mechanisms through public education campaigns;

46.             Representative organisations of persons with disabilities must strengthen its interface with oversight institutions to ensure that these institutions effectively monitor discrimination against persons with disabilities, and that government institutions budget sufficiently and equitably for service delivery to persons with disabilities;

47.             Duty-bearers must be accountable to rights-holders, and including disability rights mainstreaming outcomes in the performance management system of heads of departments, will strengthen accountability;

48.             Every person with a disability, regardless of race, gender, age, severity of impairment or geographical location, have a right to take decisions for themselves, including being provided with supported decision-making services;

49.             Public finance mechanisms such as conditional grants for infrastructure, transport systems and neighbourhood and city development, provide an opportunity to make neighbourhoods universally accessible for all;

50.             International solidarity and action can contribute to the eradication of discrimination and violation of the human rights of persons with disabilities;

51.             Parents organisations and representative organisations of persons with disabilities must be at the centre of the design, management and implementation of community-based services;

52.             All children, regardless of severity of impairment and geographical location, can learn and must have equitable access to appropriate early childhood development and education opportunities;

53.             Early identification of disability, followed by appropriate, accessible and affordable early intervention services, must form the foundation for access to early childhood development for children with disabilities;

54.             Disability rights units at institutions of higher and further education and training play a pivotal role in providing effective access to campus life and the curriculum for students with disabilities;

55.             The current process of de-institutionalising persons with psychosocial, neurological and intellectual disabilities in Gauteng and other provinces without sufficient, accessible and affordable community-based services potentially constitute a gross human rights violation;


Therefore resolve that

On the location of the National Disability Rights Coordinating Mechanism in Government

56.             The process of engagement between the Presidential Working Group on Disabilities and The Presidency on the location of the National Disability Rights Coordinating Mechanism in Government, be noted;

57.             The Disability Rights Coordinating Mechanism in Government must derive its authority from The Presidency.


On Strengthening Disability Equity Evidence Collection

58.             Statistics SA must urgently conduct a national disability census. The results should be used in conjunction with rights-based data, administrative data and any other available disability-focused data to compile a national disability report modelled after the World Disability Report;

59.             Measures must be taken to ensure sufficient resourcing of disability equity evidence collection that informs planning for the entire population.




On Strengthening Accountability of Duty-Bearers and Recourse Mechanisms for Rights-Holders

60.             Measures must be taken at all levels to ensure that rights-holders and duty-bearers are aware of the commitments made in the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the obligations contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as protection under existing legislation;

61.             The Department of Public Service and Administration must implement, in consultation with the National School of Government, a disability rights diversity training course for all public servants, including municipal officials;

62.             Disability organisations must strengthen and formalise cooperation with paralegal agencies and oversight institutions to hold duty-bearers accountable for exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination against persons with disabilities, especially in rural communities;

63.             Organisations of and for persons with disabilities must be accountable to their respective constituencies and rights-holders;

64.             Domestication of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities must be accelerated by ensuring that all obligations are covered in law;

65.             The SA Human Rights Commission must strengthen its capacity to ensure that it does justice to its designation as independent monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

66.             Committees in the legislatures must ensure that departmental budgets and performance plans incorporate the policy directives of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


On Strengthening Self-Representation by Persons with Disabilities

67.             Persons with disabilities requiring reasonable accommodation support to represent themselves must have affordable and timeous access to such services and/or technology;

68.             Representative organisations of persons with disabilities must be strengthened at all levels, and particular attention must be paid to strengthening the organised voice of persons with disabilities which are currently under-represented;

69.             A resourcing strategy must be developed to enable representative organisations of persons with disabilities to strengthen internal accountability mechanisms, and to participate in advocacy and monitoring programmes;

70.             Political parties must walk the talk by ensuring that their election lists for public representatives equitably reflect persons with disabilities;


On Accelerating Access to Comprehensive Quality Health Services

71.             The Department of Health must strengthen undergraduate, in-service and orientation education, awareness and training programmes on the rights of persons with disabilities to health services for, among others, health workers and traditional healers;

72.             Persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities must have access to immediate and relevant information and peer counselling following diagnosis of disability;

73.             The Department of Health must strengthen inter-governmental relation structures for better inter-sectoral planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting on health access and outcomes for persons with disabilities, and in particular for children with disabilities;

74.             SANAC must conduct a participatory evaluation of the impact of the current National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, STIs and TB on the lives of persons with disabilities, and must ensure that the revised NSP is aligned with the principles and directives of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

75.             The Department of Health must ensure that the re-engineering process of primary health care and ideal clinics and the Pillars of the Health Promotion Policy incorporate universal design principles and standards, and that a participatory evaluation is done of existing NHI pilot sites to highlight shortcomings of delivery of disability rights in the services provided on these sites, including access to facilities, and access to communication and information;

76.             The Department of Health must accelerate the finalisation of the new rehabilitation policy, including provisioning of assistive devices and orthotics and prosthetics;

77.             The Department of Health must strengthen the incorporation of services rendered by traditional healers in its service packages as well as oversight mechanisms;

78.             The Department of Health must review current disability-related services included in the Prescribed Minimum Benefits List, and must ensure that persons with disabilities have access to affordable and quality private medical services;




On Strengthening NGO capacity to deliver Community-Based Services to Persons with Disabilities

79.             Provincial governments must formalise outsourcing of community-based services to disability organisations, including the delivery of family and care-giver empowerment programmes;

80.             Provincial governments must develop and fund integrated and costed community-based disability services packages that prioritises community-based services to remote rural communities;

81.             A costed strategy must be developed to strengthen and develop community-based representative organisations of persons with disabilities, including parents organisations, in particular in deep rural communities.




On Strengthening Access to Community-Based Early Childhood Development and Basic Education Opportunities for Children with Disabilities

82.             A seamless, government-wide early identification and intervention tracking system must be implemented for children with disabilities aged 0-18 years;

83.             The Department of Health must accelerate the development of an integrated package of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) positioned within the ECD Policy

84.             Government and disability organisations must ensure that access to relevant and timeous information on referral path ways and services is available to parents and care-givers of children with disabilities;

85.             Government must roll out a sustainable on-going disability training programme for all frontline workers, including social workers, educators, nurses, doctors and therapists;

86.             Provincial and district disability rights forums must be strengthened and focus on removing bottlenecks that hinder access to ECD and compulsory education for, and tracking exclusion of, children with disabilities;

87.             All guidelines for inclusive education developed must be strengthened through effective regulation to ensure equitable roll-out across all education districts and to strengthen accountability and recourse.


On Strengthening Post School Education and Employment Outcomes for Persons with Disabilities

88.             NSFAS funding for reasonable accommodation support for students with disabilities at university must be made available to all students with disabilities, regardless of socio-economic status, to off-set the cost of disability;

89.             Bursaries for students with disabilities must include the cost of reasonable accommodation support;

90.             Institutions of higher and further education must implement transition programmes for learners with disabilities who matriculated at special schools to support their effective inclusion in society;

91.             Students with disabilities must constitute at least 7% of the total student population at post school education and training institutions by 2030;

92.             The period for learnerships must be  extended to up to three years for persons with disabilities to allow for improved socio-economic outcomes;

93.             Learnerships must be linked to employment equity plans, and employers must account why persons with disabilities in learnerships could not be absorbed in the labour force if the designated employer does not meet its employment equity target;

94.             The Department of Labour must coordinate an integrated programme to ensure that employment outcomes for persons with disabilities improve;


On Accelerating Access to the Right to Equality before the Law

95.             The Department of Social Development must support a programme that will strengthen the representative and collective voice of persons with intellectual disabilities, psychosocial disabilities as well as neurological disabilities;

96.             A coordinated national sustained campaign on the rights of persons with psychosocial, intellectual and neurological disabilities to represent themselves, which must be inclusive of community dialogues in deep rural communities, must be implemented in a partnership between government and DPOs representing these voices;

97.             Further research must be undertaken to build on the existing body of knowledge surveys to gain a better understanding of the implications of Article 12 of the CRPD on our current legal system;

98.             Further research must also be undertaken on appropriate and affordable service delivery options for formal and informal supported decision-making services, including international bench-marking and the role families should and could play if supported;

99.             The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development must subject the draft legislation on supported decision-making to a broad consultative process to solicit comment from affected stakeholders;

100.        The SA Human Rights Commission, as well as the national departments of Health and Social Development, must immediately engage provincial departments on the current process of de-institutionalisation of persons with severe psychosocial, intellectual and/or neurological disabilities to ensure that their rights are being protected and upheld at all times during the process, and that no-one is discharged into the community, their families and/or into other facilities without proper planning, adequate living conditions, rehabilitation and care services available in the community where they will stay;

101.        The Department of Justice and South African Police Services must expedite the roll-out of Augmentative and Alternative Communication technology and services to strengthen access to justice for persons with severe communication disabilities, and in particular for those living in rural areas;


On recognition of Deaf persons’ language rights

102.        South African Sign Language must become an official language of the Republic of South Africa and the process of tabling an amendment to the Constitution through the Constitutional Review Committee in Parliament, must be expedited.


On Accelerating Access to and Regulation of Services promoting access to Information and Communication

103.        The Department of Arts and Culture must expedite the development and finalisation of a national Braille policy, building on the draft Braille Policy developed by the SA National Council for the Blind;

104.        The Department of Arts and Culture must expedite the establishment of the SA Braille Authority as a statutory standards setting and controlling body;

105.        The Department of Basic Education must as a matter of urgency ensure that quality and accredited braille training is provided to all teachers of blind learners in all nine provinces, and that graphical material must be adapted into an accessible format for blind users by means of tactile graphics with accompanying braille or audio description;

106.        Audio description must be provided for visual material for educational and other purposes that supports and enhances the effective functioning and integration of blind persons in the visual world and must be implemented incrementally across all public sector institutions;

107.        The Department of Basic Education, in consultation with the Department of Higher Education and Training and higher and further education institutions must ensure that pre-graduate teacher education training includes braille orientation.


108.        The Department of Trade and Industry must expedite the process of ratification and domestication of the Marrakesh Treaty by supporting the setting up of the Authorised Entities, preparing the systems, affordable playback devices, content development and production guidelines;

109.        The Department of Trade and Industry must ensure the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty is included in the Copyright Amendment Bill and the all other applicable national legislation and policies must be aligned.

110.        The Department of Arts and Culture must implement a system of accreditation for professional South African Sign Language interpreters, and must regulate that government and the private sector contract only of accredited SASL interpreters for official purposes;

111.        The Department of Arts and Culture must develop a programme aimed at training and registering Deaf relay interpreters to provide access to interpreter services for Deaf persons with low SASL proficiency;

112.        The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, supported by the Department of Science and Technology, must strengthen policy and explore the more extensive use of technology to provide remote interpreting and closed captioning and sub-titling services.




On Public Sector Financing Mechanisms as enablers for developing inclusive neighbourhoods

113.        All public sector financing mechanisms, including conditional grants for infrastructure, transport and neighbourhood and city development, must follow the example of the Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems (PTIS) Grant with regards making universal design principles an integral requirement;

114.        Human settlement planning must incorporate universal design principles;

115.        A quality assurance as well as accreditation framework for universal design must be developed.

116.        A representative Universal Design Work Group must be established as a sub-structure of the National Disability Rights Machinery, tasked with developing a suite of advocacy sector specific briefs for the forthcoming universal design framework; investigating options to strengthen enforcement mechanisms to ensure accountability; building the knowledge base on universal access/ universal design for public servants with the aim of institutionalising the concepts with the departments; conducting risk assessment and management plans for potential litigation by rights-holders due to the lack of universal access; investing in creating awareness of universal design  for all built environment professionals; developing a standardised regulation on universal access for all outsourced work based on compliance with Part S of SANS 10400; undertaking sector specific baseline studies;




Towards an International Development Cooperation Agenda

117.        A Disability Fund must be established to support the work of disability organisations in the international arena;

118.        A research study must be commissioned to evaluate the impact of international cooperation development in respect of persons with disabilities in SA;

119.        DIRCO must conduct an audit of existing bilateral and multilateral international agreements to ensure that persons with disabilities benefit equitably from and participate equally in the programmes of these agreements;

120.        South Africa must support the development of a SADC Protocol on Persons with Disabilities;

121.        The African Renaissance and International Development Fund Act must be audited to determine its contribution towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities. 


On Economic Opportunities emanating from the WPRPD for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

122.        The National Disability Rights Coordinating Mechanism in Government must establish a panel of entrepreneurs with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities who can provide quality implementation support for the WPRPD at cost to the institution procuring such services;

123.        The Department of Small Business Development must facilitate a process of strengthening entrepreneurs with disabilities’ capacity to do business with government;

124.        Entrepreneurs with disabilities must be encouraged to register on the centralised supplier data base at the National Treasury.


On Enabling Youth with Disabilities to be Masters of their Future

125.        All government institutions must ring-fence a budget for participation by, and empowerment of, young persons with disabilities, and must report annually on the impact of these programmes;

126.        The National Youth Development Agency must ensure that young persons with disabilities participate in all youth dialogues and programmes during National Youth Month;

127.        The Department of Basic Education must ensure that young people leaving school, and in particular special schools, are equipped to continue their learning path post school and that they have skills they can utilize to earn an income.  Providing adequate support to learners with disabilities in mainstream schools must be prioritised.


"We are your future so include us in society"


On Monitoring Implementation of and Reporting on the Declaration:

128.        The National Disability Rights Coordinating Mechanism in Government must ensure that the annual progress report on implementation of the WPRPD to Cabinet, incorporate progress on resolutions taken by the Summit;

129.        The National Disability Rights Machinery must consider periodic progress reports on implementation of resolutions in this Declaration.



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