1 INDAQS NOVEMBER 2006 THE CHAIRPERSONS MESSAGE Equal Good for

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INDAQS NOVEMBER 2006

THE CHAIRPERSON’S MESSAGE

Equal: Good for Me, Good for You! (Indaqs: Tajjeb Ghalik, Tajjeb Ghalija!)

Everyone is busy. Everyone is in a hurry. Because of this, very often we end up closing
ourselves in our own individual world, a world which recognises only that which is
important for us or those close to us. Other people are thus divided into simplistic
categories: those who help us and those who obstruct us. Those who look like us and
those who think like us are distinguished from those who are different or against us.
Many people do not want to acknowledge other people who are different in appearance,
thought or culture and, if possible, they would also erase their existence.

We would be mistaken to think that prejudice, cruelty and eradication of difference began
and ended with the Nazi regime in the twentieth century. Many countries, including
economically and culturally developed ones, sought to apply eugenics, that is, the belief
that so-called “inferior” people (such as persons with disability) should be stopped from
having relationships and children by being made to stay in specific institutions or by
being sterilised through medical intervention.

These theories flourish particularly in those places where they can build on a parochial
mentality, that is, where narrow-minded people cannot see beyond their very limited
surroundings. It is a well-known fact that progress, both in nature and in human beings,
does not depend on uniformity but on diversity. Different countries around the world
move forward by being influenced by each other’s languages, traditions, cuisine, art and
economy.

For these reasons, the slogan chosen by KNPD for the 2006 Persons with Disability
Week highlights the importance of diversity: Indaqs - Tajjeb Ghalija, Tajjeb Ghalik!
(Equal - Good for Me, Good for You!)

Firstly, “equal” does not mean “identical”. Equality exists in a society which allows
people to find the adjustments, support and tools which they need in order to benefit from
equal opportunities and a good quality of life. An equal society, or better, an inclusive
society, respects differences for moral reasons but also because difference is financially
and culturally beneficial. When society adapts itself to the needs of those who require
support, everyone benefits. No one can deny the fact that physical and mental difficulties,
and any kind of severe disability, make life much harder. However, while disability and
difficulty are linked, disability can also have positive effects both on those carrying the
disability and also those who do not have a disability.

We, persons with disability, agree that our disabilities do not make us identical. We are
all different and our experiences are different too. However, if you have a disability you
have something in common with others: you have to adapt to the reality of your life. We
have all passed through a process of adaptation.
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If you suffer from a mobility impairment, you have to find alternative ways of being
mobile; if you suffer from a hearing impairment, you have to find alternative ways of
communicating; those who are blind have to find ways of living in a so-called “normal”
environment; the same has to be done by people with intellectual impairment or people
with mental health problems. People without disability do not have to adjust to the
environment but, for persons with disability, adjustment is a twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week endeavour. Adaptation is a form of lateral thinking. In fact, persons
with disability are inclined to look at problems from various perspectives and to solve
problems in different ways. Being able to do this is a very valuable talent. Society as a
whole benefits from adjustments made for persons with disability. The following are a
few examples:

   -       Visual impairment – Signs in large font, audio and electronic material,
           internet banking, talking lifts;
   -       Intellectual impairment – Easy-to-read material, colour coding, staff trained
           in how to speak slowly and in a simple way;
   -       Mobility impairment – Automatic doors, ramps, lifts, low-floor buses with
           ramps;
   -       Hearing impairment – Subtitles in films and sports programmes, the use of
           sign language, e-mail and internet chatting.

These are all adaptations which were created as ways of helping persons with disability
but were eventually found to be beneficial also for persons without disability. A clear
example of this is ramps at the edges of street pavements. These are not only useful for
persons using wheelchairs but also for the elderly, parents with pushchairs, and people
using walkers, rollerblades, bicycles and more.

The Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act that was approved unanimously
by the Maltese Parliament in the year 2000 is a clear example of how that which is good
for persons with disability is good for everyone. Thanks to this law, we are gradually
seeing more accessible ATMS, telephones and other essential apparatus. We are
witnessing more individualised and easier-to-access services and the introduction of
alternative means of communication. There is also a greater effort to present information
in a simple and clear way and to make public transport more accessible. We can see
public and private buildings which are comfortable for me and for you – irrespective of
whether we have a disability or not!

Charles Darwin believed in the theory of the ‘survival of the fittest’. Many people
interpret this theory as meaning that the strongest succeed. They are wrong. The phrase,
‘survival of the fittest’, really means, the ‘success of those who can adapt better to their
situation’. History teaches us that persons with disability have the ability to adapt in order
to compensate for their physical or mental impairments. The more one adapts to difficult
circumstances, the easier it becomes to adapt to everyday life. The more we understand
this concept the more we should tolerate the physical and mental disabilities around us
and the more we understand how the abilities and technology developed for adaptation
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purposes can help everyone have a better life. Finally, my friends, we understand better
when I and other persons with disability, tell you: EQUAL – Good for Me, Good for
You! (INDAQS – Tajjeb Ghalija, Tajjeb Ghalik!)


SOME OF THE PRODUCTS DEVELOPED FOR US, PERSONS WITH DISABILITY

1808: The Typewriter (and any kind of keyboard)
Pellegrino Turri created the first typewriter for Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono, a
blind person who wanted to continue writing.

1873: The Computer
Herman Hollerith, a young man with an intellectual impairment, used to run away from
school because he was not good at spelling. Hollerith eventually created a data-storing
system using punch-cards – this was the first type of computer. Later, he established a
company which eventually became the International Business Machines, better known as
IBM.

1876: The Telephone
Alexander Graham Bell initially conceived the telephone as an apparatus to help his wife,
who had a hearing impairment.

1929: The Stereo
Harvey Fletcher published the book, Speech and Hearing, which had a strong influence
on the development of the stereo system, which today is used for music.

1948: Transistor Radio
The transistor was invented as a direct result of research into the creation of smaller
hearing aids which do not heat up quickly and which last longer. Sony bought the licence
for the production of the transistor and used this technology to produce very small radios
(transistor radios) that were bought by millions of people with or without disability.

1948: The Jacuzzi Bath
Candido Jacuzzi developed a water pump to be used to massage the joints of his fifteen-
month son who had developed arthritis. In 1955, the pump started to be used
commercially in luxurious baths.

1984: Musical Keyboards
Ray Kurzweil developed the first musical keyboard producing an acoustic sound after
talking with Stevie Wonder, the blind musician and composer.
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AWARENESS-RAISING ACTIVITIES

Equal Opportunities Act

The Commission published a booklet in Maltese which explains clearly the Equal
Opportunities Act. This booklet illustrates in brief the essential principles of this Act in
order to help persons with disability, their families and their organisations, understand
how this Act works and how they can use it effectively to stop discrimination. This
booklet also includes a model letter which can be used by persons with disability who
want to make a formal complaint according to this Act. An audio version of this booklet
has also been produced and this, together with the printed version, is available from the
Commission’s offices. The printed version can also be obtained from the Commission’s
website: www.knpd.org.

This publication was presented to the public in a press conference and during a meeting
for non-governmental organisations working in this sector. Moreover, there was also an
advertising campaign that included advertising in all the newspapers as well as all the
radio and television stations.

This activity was financed by the European Union Community Action Programme to
Combat Discrimination.

Awareness Campaign in Schools

The Commission continued its awareness campaign in Maltese and Gozitan schools by
sending a number of persons with different disabilities to talk to students about disability
issues, especially the social model of disability. In some schools, this training was
integrated with other activities while other schools organised a Disability Awareness
Day. In total, 9 persons with disability took part in these activities. They visited 27
schools and talked to about 4,600 students in 125 hours. These were 14 primary schools,
12 secondary schools and a college which includes both secondary and post-secondary
students. The Commission carried out this campaign with the financial support of the
European Union.

Public Activities in Summer

The Commission organised two open-air activities for the general public: one in
Marsalforn, Gozo, and one in Sliema. The activities included singing, dancing (including
dancing by persons with disability and persons using wheelchairs) and information about
disability issues. During these activities, the Commission also distributed some of its
publications to persons with disability.

These public activities were organised with the financial assistance of the European
Union.
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Right From the Start

The Commission has published an information booklet in Maltese, English and in audio
format in order to provide practical guidelines to professionals, especially those in the
health sectors, on how to break the news about the presence of disability to persons with
disability and their families. This booklet is aimed at creating a greater awareness about
the strong and long-lasting effects that this news has on those who receive it and at
providing health professionals with information about support services available for these
people. This publication was presented to the public, and especially these professionals,
during a public seminar addressed by the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Joseph M.
Camilleri, and by Dr. Louis Deguara, Minister for Health. A copy of this publication in
various formats can be obtained from the offices of the Commission while versions in
Maltese and English are available on the Commission’s website: www.knpd.org.

This publication was produced with the financial assistance of the European Union.

Training camp for Youths with Hearing Impairment

Between the 4th and the 9th of September 2006, the Commission, together with the Deaf
People Association, organised a training camp for youths with hearing impairment. This
seminar was financed by the European Union Youth Programme. The participants of the
seminar came from Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Malta and the European
Union of the Deaf Youth. The aim of this seminar was to help the participants develop a
positive self-image and a positive outlook on issues relating to hearing impairment. The
training camp included both formal and informal activities in which the participants
discussed various issues related to the life of persons with hearing impairment. Every
organisation explained the services available to people with hearing impairment in its
country. One of the main activities during the camp was a meeting with Hon. Lawrence
Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta. During this meeting, the need for more interpreters in
Malta was highlighted. The camp also addressed the need to develop the personal skills
of the participants in view of making their contribution to their organisations more
effective.

The Sign Book

KNPD, in collaboration with the Speech and Language Department of the Health and the
Inclusive and Special Education Network of the Education Division, published the Sign
Book, both in print and CD format. These two publications are aimed at providing a sign
system as a means of communication for persons with intellectual impairment. The book
includes 400 commonly-used signs and a key in Maltese and English. The CD includes
the same signals as well as a short video-clip on each sign. This publication was
presented to the public during a seminar addressed by Dr. Nicola Grove from the City
University of London. This seminar was attended by persons with disability, speech
therapists, facilitators, support workers and other people interested in this sector. A copy
of Dr. Grove’s presentation and the booklet are available on the Commission’s website:
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www.knpd.org. People who need this book and/or CD can obtain a copy from the
Commission’s offices.

These publications were produced with the financial assistance of the European Union.

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

European Disability Advocacy Mainstreaming Assessment Tool (EDAMAT)

The aim of the project, EDAMAT, was to create a series of guidelines to safeguard the
rights of persons with disability. These guidelines are meant to inform decision makers
and those in charge of formulating policies, laws and programmes, about what should be
done to cater for the rights and needs of persons with disability. These guidelines also
help persons with disability and their organisations monitor the inclusion of their rights
and needs in policies, laws and programmes. EDAMAT is based on four main principles:
Participation, Accessibility, Resources and Enforcement. It acknowledges the fact that
the mainstreaming process is a challenge for those who formulate policies and laws.
Moreover, EDAMAT, while acknowledging the importance of mainstreaming, still sees
the need for specific measures to be taken for persons with disability.

The Commission participated in this project, which was coordinated by Leonard Cheshire
International, together with organisations from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece,
Spain and Portugal. EDAMAT has been published in five languages, including Maltese.
A copy can be obtained from the Commission’s offices or downloaded in standard, text-
only or easy-to-read format from the project’s website: www.edamat-europe.org.

This document was presented to the Maltese public in an activity during the Persons with
Disability Week. There was also a public presentation of the document in Brussels, which
was attended by a Maltese delegation.

This project is financed by European Union funds.

Access to Professional Training

The National Commission Persons with Disability, together with the Department of
Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Malta, continued to work on this
project which is aimed at helping persons with disability continue their education, also at
a tertiary level, especially in the social sector. The work done in this project includes:
    -        the identification of persons with disability wishing to participate in this
             project;
    -        individual interviews with every person with disability applying for this
             course;
    -        the identification of individual support required by these persons with
             disability to participate in this course;
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   -       a meeting with high officials from MCAST to discuss the aims of this course
           as well as courses offered by the College which can assist students enrolling
           in this course;
   -       the initial training required for the mentoring of third year students that are
           making the grade in Social Work. Eventually, some of these students will take
           on the roles of mentors for students with disability.

KNPD and the University of Malta have appointed a Steering Committee to run this
Project. The following aspects will be discussed regularly:
   -       all the necessary preparations for this course to meet the targets of the Project;
   -       the possibility of extending similar courses to other faculties at the University.

Since this course is built on the Social Model of Disability, persons with disability:
   -        participate actively in the Committee;
   -        give lectures for the training of mentors at University;
   -        give feedback to KNPD about the accessibility of the Project’s website; and
   -        will also be involved in the training to be given to students in the course to be
            held at University between February and April 2007.

A meeting for the delegates of all the organisations which are taking part in this project
was held in Sliven, Bulgaria. During this meeting, every participating country presented a
report of the work that had been done on this project. Moreover, the dates in which each
country is organising this course were fixed. Malta was represented by Dr. Charles Pace,
on behalf of the University of Malta, and Ms. Rosanne Fenech, representing the
Commission. In Malta, this course is going to be held at the university between February
and April 2007.

National Policy on Self Advocacy for Persons with Intellectual Impairment.

As announced in the last issue of Indaqs, the Commission started an intensive
consultation process in view of formulating this policy. This process started in November
2005 and consisted of 4 meetings open to persons with disability from various sectors,
including Day Centres, residential services, educational institutions, non-governmental
institutions and Gozo. Persons with intellectual impairment, their families and people
working in this sector were invited to attend. The attendance for these meetings was very
encouraging and this shows the great interest in this subject. This also means that there
could be a wide consultation and a greater awareness about the issue. The strong and
active participation of persons with intellectual impairment was encouraging. Every
meeting started with a short presentation explaining what self-advocacy is, followed by
three workshops: one for persons with intellectual impairment, one for members of their
families, and one for the staff. In some of these meetings, there were 2 workshops for
persons with intellectual impairment since their attendance was high. Following the
workshops, there were plenary meetings in which the work that had been done was
discussed. This led to the formulation of the final report. This report is divided into two
parts. The first part includes the National Policy on self-advocacy for persons with
intellectual impairment in Malta. The second part is a report on the whole consultation
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process. This report, together with an easy-to-read summary and an audio version, were
presented to the public during a national seminar held in October 2006. These
publications can be obtained from the offices of the Commission while the printed
version as well as an easy-to-read version can be downloaded from the Commission’s
website: www.knpd.org.


THE PERSONS WITH DISABILITY WEEK

The 3rd of December is the Persons with Disability Day. Every year the Commission
chooses a theme around which to organise a week of activities. This year’s theme is:
Indaqs: Tajjeb Ghalija, Tajjeb Ghalik (Equal: Good for Me, Good for You). The
programme for this Week is the following:

Monday 27th November
Beginning of speeches in Secondary Schools given by persons with disability.
Maria Assumpta Secondary School, Hamrun

Seminar: “Good for Me, Good for You” Youth
Centru Hidma Socjali
(Together with the Youth Section of the Ministry for Education and the National Youth
Council)

Wednesday 29th November
Seminar: ‘“Good for Me, Good for You” Mainstreaming: The Persons with
Disability Sector’ and a presentation of the final EDAMAT document
Centru Hidma Socjali

Thursday 30th November
FITA’s Annual General Meeting with the theme: ‘“Good for Me, Good for You” in
Information Technology Too’
Centru Hidma Socjali

Thanksgiving Reception
Centru Hidma Socjali

Friday 1st December
Presentation of the Equal Opportunities Act Annual Report
Centru Hidma Socjali

Sunday 3rd December
International Day of Persons with Disability
At 7 pm: Ministerial message by the Hon. Dolores Cristina and Ms Mariella Beck
Venanzi
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The Commission also:
a) publishes a theme poster which is distributed around Malta and Gozo;
b) produces a short video about the theme to be shown on all local television stations;
c) publishes two statements: one for adults, which is included in this edition as the
Chairman’s Word, and another one for children, which is included in this edition of
Indaqs and which was distributed among all the schools in Malta and Gozo.


THE COMMITTEE FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY

The Commission had a meeting with the new University Rector, Prof. Juanito Camilleri,
and the Pro-Rector, Dr Mary Anne Lauri, mainly to discuss the Special Needs Committee
of the University. Following this meeting, this Committee, in which the Commission is
represented by its chairman, Mr Joe Camilleri, was reformed as follows:
    a) The chairman of this Committee is now the Pro-Rector, Dr Mary Anne Lauri;
    b) Its name will change to “Access Disability Support Committee”;
    c) Three sub-committees were established to help the Committee function better.
       These will be in charge of: Information Technology during Examinations; Matsec
       and Special Arrangements during Examinations; and Physical Access at
       University.

The Commission hopes that through this Committee and its sub-committees that have
already started their work, there will soon be positive results.


A GROUP OF EUROPEAN UNION HIGH OFFICIALS

The Directorate General for Work, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities within
the European Commission, has a group of High Officials for the sector of persons
with disability from each member state of the European Union.

The aim of this Group is to help in the drafting of the Union’s strategy for this sector and
to assist in informing the member states about the work of the Union and the member
states in this sector.

Another meeting of this Group was held in September 2006. This was attended by
Malta’s representative, the Director of the Commission. During this meeting, the
following themes were discussed:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
The Group was given information about the negotiations held in New York last August
when an agreement was reached about the drafting of the new convention. An issue
which was discussed in detail was the definition of disability.
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Legislation about Transport Services and Persons with Disability
The group was given information about recent developments in this sector in the
European Union. These include:
   • New regulations about persons with disability suffering from mobility impairment
       when travelling by air (EC Regulation No 1107/2006 of the European
       Parliament);
   • Proposals on new regulations about travelling by train and persons with disability;
   • Consultations being held by the EU about regulations for sea transport and
       persons with disability;
   • Discussions about the Services Working Paper and the rights of passengers with
       disability who use buses and coaches for international trips.

Conference on the European Social Fund
The Directorate organised a Conference on the new European Social Fund Regulations
that safeguard the issues of persons with disability especially with regards to accessibility
and non-discrimination. There was also a presentation of the draft toolkit that the
European Union Disability Unit is planning to publish to ensure that these regulations
have the desired effects.

Social Services and Persons with Disability
In April 2006, the European Union adopted a Communication about Social Services to
give more importance to the diversity in different countries. The group discussed the
ways in which this might affect persons with disability.

The Blue Sticker
The European Union Disability Unit is going to conduct a study about this service at a
European Level. Malta, through the Commission, is going to have an active part in this
study.

The European Year of Equal Opportunities - 2007
The group was informed about this year’s organisation. Fifteen million euros were
budgeted for this year. Half of these are to be used for activities at a European level and
the other half will be used for activities at a national level. Malta is going to receive
€120,000, but the Maltese Government has to provide the same amount of funds.

The Progress Programme
The European Union Disability Unit has been assigned 4 million euros for 2007 through
this programme. The Unit is planning to use these funds as follows:
    • € 2 million will be used to support NGOs working in this sector at a European
        level;
    • € 1.5 million will go for projects, which include the Conference for the European
        Day of Persons with Disability and a network of experts;
    • € 0.5 million will be used for administration, which includes the ESF toolkit and
        the Group’s meetings.
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The European Day of Persons with Disability
The European Conference for this Day is going to be held between the 4th and 5th
December 2007, since the 3rd of December, the European Day of Persons with Disability,
will fall on a Sunday. The theme of this conference is “Youth = Future: Let’s make an
Equal Future for All”.


EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES ACT

One of the principal functions of the Commission is to receive, investigate, mediate and,
if necessary, take legal proceedings to ensure that the Equal Opportunities (Persons with
Disability) Act is respected and thus stop discrimination against persons with disability.
The following are the major developments which occurred over the last six months.

Closed Complaints

Reserved Parking in Mdina
The Commission notes with satisfaction that, thanks to the efforts of all those involved, a
solution to the problem of lack of access to Mdina for persons with disability has been
found. The Ministry for Internal Affairs issued new traffic regulations that allow persons
in possession of the Blue Sticker to enter Mdina.

The Malta Transport Authority approved two reserved parking spaces in Mdina and the
Local Council took care of the relevant traffic signs.

Large Font Statements
The Commission continued to work on the complaint that, to assist persons with visual
impairment, the statements and bills of important entities should be made available in
large font upon request. The Commission was successful in its negotiations with the
office of the Prime Minister and Melita Cable. The Office of the Prime Minister issued a
circular to all its directors (including parastatal ones) to ensure that the information given
to their employees are accessible to everyone. Melita Cable also accepted this and
informed all the persons with disability registered with the Commission about this
service.

The Magazine, “Flimkien” (Together)
The Commission received a complaint that this magazine, which is distributed in many
parishes, is not accessible to people with visual impairment. This complaint has now been
solved because those who need it can ask the chaplain to be given an audio version of this
magazine.

Complaints Under Discussion

The Giving of Medicines in Schools
Once again, the Commission must report that there has been no progress as regards to this
complaint. The complaint is that a number of students with disability, who need
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medicine, are not being given this medicine at school or their parents have to go to school
every day to give this medicine to their children. The Commission is aware of the
complexity of this issue and has thus agreed to participate in a task force to give
recommendations. The report of this task force was given some time ago to the Minister
of Education. The Minister asked for the advice of the Attorney General’s Office.
Unfortunately, this advice has not been given yet. The Commission is going to continue
working by taking all the legal measures to solve this problem as soon as possible.

An Employee with Hearing Impairment
The Commission received a complaint by an employee with hearing impairment at MIA
that he was not being given the services of a sign language interpreter during staff
meetings and training programmes and that he was being discriminated against in the
assignment of overtime.

While the company accepted to provide the service of an interpreter during staff
meetings, discussions are ongoing about the service of an interpreter during other
meetings and training programmes. As regards the complaint about the overtime, the
Commission is investigating.

District Offices of the Social Security Department
The Commission received complaints that a number of district offices of the social
security department were not accessible to everyone. The Department agreed with the
Commission that it would carry out an exercise to verify what is reasonably required to
improve the accessibility of its offices. This exercise has now started and it is hoped that
discussions will start shortly to decide what can reasonably be done.

The St Vincent de Paule Canteen
The Commission received a complaint that this canteen does not have an entrance which
is accessible to everyone. This canteen is administered by a private company in the name
of the Department of the Elderly while the owner of the land is the Lands Department.
The Commission insists that it is the responsibility of the Department of the Elderly to
ensure that the canteen is accessible to its clients, particularly in view of the fact that
most of the people living at St Vincent de Paule have problems of mobility.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made with respect to this complaint but the
Commission is working on this issue.

The Mdina Belvedere
When rehabilitation work was being carried out in Mdina, the Commission insisted that
the bastion belvedere should be made accessible to everyone. Discussions were held to
decide whether a lift or a ramp would be the solution. The Commission always preferred
a ramp. This proposal has now been accepted and an application for the necessary
permits has been submitted to MEPA. The Commission will continue working to make
sure that the belvedere can be enjoyed by everyone.
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News in Maltese Sign Language
The Commission received a complaint from the Deaf People Association that PBS had
stopped the service of news in Maltese Sign Language broadcast on Saturdays and
Sundays. Moreover, the broadcast time of the news changes every three months and the
news are sometimes broadcast during working hours when it is difficult for people with
hearing impairment to follow them. The Commission is convinced that this is a case of
discrimination against persons with hearing impairment and will do its utmost to find a
solution in the near future.

Accessible Website
Following several complaints, the Commission, together with the Foundation for
Information Technology Accessibility (FITA), commenced an exercise meant to ensure
that websites of important entities are made accessible to everyone by fulfilling
international standards. This year, the Commission and FITA held discussions towards
making the websites of the following entities accessible:
     • The Church in Malta
     • The Church in Gozo
     • Melita Cable
     • Water Services Corporation
     • Bank of Valletta
     • Maltacom

The Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, issued a circular to all its
directors (including parastatal ones) to ensure that their websites are accessible to
everyone. Unfortunately, the guidelines given in this circular are inadequate and thus the
Commission is holding discussions about the matter.

Statements in Large Font
The Commission, as reported above, received a number of complaints about the fact that
a number of major entities do not issue statements, including bills, which are accessible
to people with visual impairment. The solution would be issuing statements in large font
when requested by the client. The entities agreed to do this but there were disagreements
about what kind of publicity should be given to this service. Discussions about this matter
are ongoing with the following entities:
     • Water Services Corporation;
     • HSBC;
     • Bank of Valletta;
     • Maltacom;
     • Vodafone.

Complaints filed in Court

Calypso Hotel, Marsalforn
The Commission received a complaint that, following the modernisation of this hotel in
Marsalforn, Gozo, this hotel was not accessible to everyone. Investigations by the
Commission showed that the complaint was justified. The management had sent their
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modernisation plans to the Commission. Initially, these did not follow the Commission’s
Guidelines but they were eventually modified twice and, therefore, the MEPA permit
could be issued. The architect of the Commission, in agreement with the management,
carried out an access audit of the necessary changes. The Commission requested
proposals by the management for these changes to be carried out within a reasonable
time. However, the management did not comply even after the Commission had
presented a judicial protest in the Court in Gozo.

Consequently, the Commission had no choice but to institute proceedings against the
management of this hotel. The first sitting of this case has been held and the Commission
hopes that this case will be decided within a reasonable time. Despite this, the
Commission is open to finding an amicable solution.

Accessibility at the Michele Peresso Establishment
The Commission instituted proceedings in court against this establishment, which sells
products for the specific use of persons with disability, because the premises do not
conform to the Commission’s Guidelines. The case was decided in favour of the
Commission and the Court found the company guilty of discrimination against persons
with disability under the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act. This
company was ordered to apply for the necessary permits with MEPA within two weeks
and to carry out the necessary work within two months from the issue of the permit.
Unfortunately, the company appealed from this decision.

This year, the company proposed to install an external platform lift instead of carrying
out works on the ramp. The Commission did not accept this proposal because its
Guidelines state that platform lifts are only acceptable when ramps or normal lifts are not
a viable option, which is not the case here.

For the above reasons, the appeal is still pending in court.

The Health Division
The Commission is still involved in the court case it opened against the Ministry of
Health about the lack of access at the Health Centre in Gzira, which operates on the
second floor and is not served with a lift.

CONFERENCE – DISABILITY STUDIES: RESEARCH AND LEARNING

Between the 18th and the 20th September 2006, the Commission’s Chairman, Mr Joe
Camilleri, attended a conference organised by the Disability Studies Association of the
United Kingdom. The conference was organised by the University of Lancaster and its
theme was, “Disability Studies: Research and Learning”.

Mr Joe Camilleri was chosen as one of the two main speakers to open this conference. Mr
Camilleri’s presentation was entitled: “The Genesis of Disability Studies in Malta: From
a Colonial Past to an Independent Future?” This presentation can be obtained form the
website of the Commission: www.knpd.org. The other main speaker was Ms Alison
                                                                                         15


Sheldon, who spoke about, “Disabling the Disabled People Movement? The Influence of
the Disability Studies on the Struggle for Liberation”. This conference was attended by
lecturers and researchers in the field of disability from all around the world including:
Lawrence Arnold, Colin Barnes. Len Barton, Peter Beresford, Lilith Finkler, Sally
French, Dan Goodley, Jennifer Harris, Mark Priestley, Richard Rieser, Tom Shakespeare,
Rannveig Trauseadottir. The speeches and discussions of this conference will be
published on the website of the University of Lancaster: www.disabilitystudies.net

SERVICES AND BENEFITS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITY

One of the main publications of the Commission is “Services and Benefits for Persons
with Disability”. This booklet includes information about all the services and benefits
that the Maltese society offers to persons with disability and their families.

The Commission updates this booklet regularly in order for it to reflect the recent
changes in telephone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses, as well as any new
services. This year, the Commission published the fifth edition of this booklet, which is
also available in audio format for people who cannot read, as well as in English. These
three versions can be obtained for free from the offices of the Commission while versions
in Maltese and English can be downloaded from the Commission’s website.

The Commission is working on the publication of this book in an easy-to-read format for
persons with intellectual disability and in Maltese sign language for persons with hearing
impairment.

The Park of Friendship (Razzett tal-Hbiberija) has informed us that the information about
it contained in this booklet is inaccurate. The Special Identity Card issued by the
Commission no longer entitles its holder to a free use of the Park’s facilities. Discounts
and free membership are being provided to persons with disability who fulfil the criteria
of the Park itself. The Commission is obviously disappointed with this development
because not all persons with disability can now benefit from these facilities and also
because the persons with disability have to be subjected to further scrutiny if they want to
use the facilities.

THE BLUE STICKER SERVICE

As already announced, the Commission is working to make this service sustainable. For
this reason, two decisions have been taken:
a) All the applications for the Blue Sticker have to be vetted by the Commission’s doctor;
b) The Blue Sticker (and the Special Identity Card) are to be collected when the Sticker
holder dies.

For these procedures to be followed, the Commission has had to incur new expenses and
thus it has introduced a reasonable fee of Lm5 for this service. This fee is paid once even
if the blue sticker is issued on a temporary basis or if there is the need of more than one
                                                                                          16


visit by the Commission’s doctor. These visits are held at the offices of the Commission
in Santa Venera.

This process started in June 2006 and the statistics in Table 1, updated till the end of
October 2006, show that this exercise is having the desired results.

As regards the collection of the Blue Sticker of deceased persons with disability, and who
therefore do need this document, the Commission has adopted the following procedure:
    • The Commission acquires the relevant information from the Public Registry;
    • The Commission sends a letter to the family requesting the Blue Sticker and the
        Special Identity Card;
    • Those who have lost any of the documents are requested to send an affidavit
        sworn in front of their notary;
    • If the documents or the affidavit are not sent to the Commission, a second letter is
        sent;
    • If these documents are still not sent, the Commission informs the Commissioner
        of Police in order for him to send a police officer to collect the document from the
        family’s residence. (In the case of the Special Identity Card, a legal letter is sent
        by the Commission’s advocate).

As shown in the statistics in Table 2, this procedure is having the desired effect because
the great majority of these documents are now being returned. These statistics are for the
January 2006 to July 2006 period.

Table 1
                                         Number        %
Permanent Blue Stickers Issued         110             44
Temporary Blue Stickers Issued         54              22
Blue Sticker Not Given                 54              22
Application Dropped                    33              13
Total                                  251             100

Table 2
                           Returned          Affidavit       No Reply             Total
                          No      %         No      %        No    %               No
Special Identity Card     142    64         38      17       43    19              223
Blue Sticker              102    65         29      19       25    16              156


THE 2007 BUDGET AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITY

Every year the Commission presents the Government with a memorandum of proposals
for the budget of the following year. For 2007, the Commission made the following
proposals, some of which were accepted and some not. The Commission’s proposals
were the following:
                                                                                        17


   a) The SAPPORT Agency should have a substantial increase in its budget so that the
      list of clients on the waiting list for its services can be terminated. This proposal
      was not accepted because the budget for this agency remained the same as the
      year before. The increase that was given was due to the fact that the budget for
      Day Centres was transferred from the Ministry of the Family to this Agency.
   b) The Government should allocate the necessary funds for the implementation of
      the proposed project by SAPPORT Agency and Mount Carmel Hospital to
      transfer a number of persons with disability from the hospital to the agency. This
      proposal was not accepted.
   c) The Day Service for Persons with Disability should be given the necessary funds
      to employ the professionals that it needs. This proposal was not accepted.
   d) The transfer of the Day Service for Persons with Disability to SAPPORT Agency
      should be completed as soon as possible and not later than mid-2007. The first
      step towards this happening was made in the budget by giving the funds for this
      service to the Agency.
   e) The income ceiling upon which the tax bands are calculated and the income
      ceiling determining who is exempt from the water and electricity surcharge
      should be higher for persons with disability and their families. This proposal was
      not accepted.
   f) The Commission should be given the necessary funds for it to be able to assist all
      those who need the Special Aids Services and thus eliminate the waiting list; the
      financial assistance should rise to at least 75% of the price of the equipment
      bought; and there should be no maximum amount for grants. This proposal was
      not accepted.
   g) The Social Security Act should be amended so that persons who have mental
      health problems that do not allow them to work can be entitled to the pension for
      persons with disability. This proposal was not accepted.
   h) The budget of the Commission’s Secretariat should rise to reflect the increase in
      wages and the cost of living of the last four years. This proposal was accepted and
      the Commission’s budget was increased by LM10,000.

There were two measures related to persons with disability which were introduced in the
budget but which had not been recommended by the Commission. These were:
   a) Persons with disability will receive the pension for persons with disability in the
       first five years after getting married;
   b) The Government allocated Lm75,000 to run Dar Pirotta in Birkirkara so that a
       number of persons with disability can live in the community;

Moreover, one of the provisions being discussed as an amendment to the Social Security
Act is meant to entitle parents of persons with severe disability to four years (instead of
two) of parental leave from work and to keep being credited social security contributions
while availing themselves of the parental leave.

Obviously, the Commission agrees with these two measures which will improve the
quality of life of those who benefit from them,
                                                                                           18




KNPD’s 20th Anniversary

The National Commission Persons with Disability was established in November 1987
through a parliamentary statement by the Hon. Louis Galea, the then Minister for Social
Policy. Thus, 2007 is going to be the 20th anniversary of the Commission’s establishment.

The Commission is preparing an intensive programme to commemorate this important
occasion and thus widen the awareness of the issues relating to persons with disability
with the aim of improving the quality of life of persons with disability and their families.
The Commission plans to organise one activity a month on a national level during 2007.

The European Union has chosen the year 2007 as the European Year for Equal
Opportunities and, therefore, these activities fit very well in this context. In order to be
able to finance these activities, the Commission has applied for funds amounting to €
150,000. We are happy to announce that this request was accepted.

KNPD’s views on the Malta Labour Party’s Policy on Health

The National Commission Persons with Disability was invited by the Malta Labour Party
to give its feedback to the draft document, Poplu b’Sahhtu, Pajjiz b’ Sahhtu (Healthy
People, Healthy Country). The Commission discussed this document during one of its
meetings and then presented its comments to the leaders of the Malta Labour Party in a
meeting arranged for this purpose. These comments were also forwarded to the media.

The main points of the Commission’s comments were the following:
1.    KNPD agrees with several general concepts listed in the document, such as, that:
    • The patient should be at the centre of a service characterised by efficiency and
       dignity;
    • Every effort should be made to strengthen the service’s sustainability;
    • Benchmarks should be established in order to reduce health problems;
    • Efforts should be made to offer more care in the community and thus reduce the
       centralisation of medical services;
    • There should be monitoring and, if necessary, adjustments to ensure that the
       price of medical care remains realistic;
    • The patients’ rights should be strengthened;
    • A programme should be devised in order to help individuals find their place in
       the community after long-term treatment.

2.       KNPD has always acknowledged that the biological aspect definitely imposes
limitations on the life of persons with disability. However, KNPD believes that the
greatest obstacles that persons with disability face in life and that impoverish their quality
of life are social in nature.
                                                                                       19


Therefore, the Commission has always accepted the Social Model of Disability that does
not consider disability to be caused primarily by medical issues but by social obstacles.
KNPD notes that the way that issues of persons with disability are dealt with in this
document suggests that the Malta Labour Party perceives these issues as being purely
medical rather than social in nature.

3.      Persons with disability are only mentioned directly on page 20, paragraph 4,
where there is the recommendation that, “after the necessary infrastructural changes, a
section of St Luke’s Hospital should be used to host persons with disability who cannot
be taken care of by their families and who cannot live independently in the Community”.

KNPD has always maintained that independent living is a social and not a medical issue.
Therefore, KNPD cannot understand why this issue is being raised in a document about
health. KNPD believes that there is no connection between these two topics except for
the mentioning of a building which is currently being used for medical purposes.

KNPD, which is formed primarily by persons with disability and parents of persons with
disability, has always been very conscious of the severe problems faced by parents of
persons with severe disability. Their main preoccupation is the question: “What will
happen to our adult child when we can no longer give the necessary support?”

KNPD also understands that the number of persons with severe disability is increasing
for various reasons.

On the other hand, KNPD has always insisted that the place of persons with disability is
in the Community and has therefore always suggested that:
    a) The families of persons with disability should be given the necessary support by
        the Community so that they can keep taking care of the family member with
        disability for as long as possible, and
    b) Individualised support services should be provided to persons with disability for
        them to, if possible, live in the Community and in a familial environment.
    c) For those persons with disability whose needs cannot be satisfied at home, there
        should be the development of small community homes (of not more than 6
        persons) so that the service can remain individualised and the persons can live as
        a family. This model is already being utilised both by the public sector through
        the SAPPORT Agency, as well as in the non-Governmental sector through the
        Nazareth Foundation, Fondazzjoni Wens and Dar tal-Providenza (Dar Zerniq). In
        this way, the element of choice, to which everyone is entitled, is being ensured.

For the above reasons, KNPD has severe reservations about the recommendations about
persons with disability made in this document. In the past, KNPD had already opposed
the idea of using part of St Luke’s Hospital as a residence for persons with disability.

4.      KNPD notes severe discrepancies between what this document recommends for
persons with disability and what it recommends for the elderly and people with mental
health problems.
                                                                                         20



For the elderly, the document, from page 33 onwards, recommends that:
   a) The elderly should keep on living at home as far as possible;
   b) Teaching and training should be given to their children or relatives who wish to
        continue taking care of them;
   c) Cluster homes should be built for the elderly who cannot take care of themselves;
   d) The services offered to the elderly living at home should be evaluated and
        assessed in order for them to reflect the modern needs of the elderly and their
        families;
   e) Programmes and initiatives should be created to avoid having elderly people feel
        that they are no longer useful in their community;
   f) The institute of health care should offer training in geriatrics;
   g) The Community Respite Centres where the elderly can live in a modern
        environment should increase.

The document also deals with the strengthening of community services of people with
mental health problems (page 30) because only in this way “can the number of patients
requiring hospital treatment be reduced” (page 20, para. 5).

While KNPD agrees wholeheartedly with what the document is recommending for
persons with mental health problems and for the elderly, it asks why these points, with
few modifications, were not applied to persons with disability.

It is a known fact that a big number of persons with physical or intellectual impairments
are elderly people. Thus, the services related to these impairments should not be
regulated by age but by need. Persons with disability who are not old should benefit from
the same quality of life that the document envisions for the elderly: a productive life with
the necessary support of family and community.

5.     KNPD notes that there is stigma related to the environment of what is, or was, the
building of St Luke’s Hospital.

This stigma creates the danger of segregation and the absolute dependency characterised
by living in an institution. Persons with disability perceive the building of St Luke’s
Hospital very negatively since the building is where many persons with disability passed
some of the worst moments of their lives. No modifications are going to solve this
problem.

Despite all the good intentions and the fact that everything may be done after consultation
with all the interested parties, projects such as these, which are not always profit making,
often end up catering for many people with the result that the institution and its services
are no longer personalised. Thus, the implementation of this recommendation would
mean the warehousing and ghettoisation of persons with disability.

6.     The document states as from page 1 that while the financial aspect is a reality, this
should not be the only consideration.
                                                                                          21



The main concern should be the quality of life of the person (whom the document refers
to as “the patient”). While the document emphasises that health services should not be
determined by the financial aspect only, in the case of persons with disability, it gives the
impression, through the proposal on page 20, that the financial aspect is indeed the main
consideration.

7.       Therefore, KNPD concludes by:
     •   insisting that the issues of persons with disability should not be medical but
         social;
     •   stating that persons with disability should have all the necessary support to keep
         living in the Community and, where this is impossible, small community homes
         should be developed to give the necessary support for independent living;
     •   claiming that the state should continue to finance such services through
         SAPPORT Agency and non-governmental organisations; and
     •   not agreeing that part of the building of St Luke’s Hospital should be developed
         as a residence for persons with disability.

8.     In conclusion, KNPD notes with satisfaction the high level of national agreement
on disability issues. This agreement brought an almost unanimous way of thinking about
what is an appropriate quality of life for this vulnerable section of our society. Everyone
agrees that the place of persons with disability is in the family and the community and,
thus, KNPD insists that this recommendation should no longer be considered.

MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN
Indaqs: Tajjeb Ghalija, Tajjeb Ghalik! (Equal: Good for Me, Good for You!)

On Saturday, 3rd December, children and adults with disability from all around the world
commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disability. In order to celebrate this
day appropriately, the National Commission Persons with Disability and other
organisations coordinate a whole week of activities.

During this week of activities, we try to show how persons with disability can do various
things when having the necessary support. During this Week we publish a poster and a
slogan. This year’s slogan is: Indaqs- Tajjeb Ghalija, Tajjeb Ghalik! (Equal: Good for
You, Good for Me!)

The message of this slogan is simple: When we do good things for persons with
disability, we are improving things for everyone. Let us consider a few examples.

Do you have anyone in your family who cannot see well? Many elderly people have
eyesight problems. Have you noticed that they sometimes wear spectacles to read small
print? To help these people, it would be good if the fonts were bigger. There are people
who are almost completely blind and for them we could put information on cassettes or
CDs. Have you ever heard a talking lift? These lifts are made on purpose for blind
people.
                                                                                         22



Do you have any relatives or friends with an intellectual impairment? For these people to
understand better we have started to publish books, booklets and leaflets in an easy-to-
read format. In hospital, or any other big building, we could draw a coloured line to
follow in order to arrive to our destination. For example, following a green line will get
you to the canteen.

Do you know anyone who has mobility problems? They might use a walking stick,
crutches, or wheelchairs to get from one place to another. In order to help these people, in
many places, such as the airport, there are automatic doors. Some buildings, such as St
Luke’s Hospital, have ramps and lifts. Have you ever used a bus with a low floor or a
ramp?

Have you ever met a person with hearing impairment? Have you ever noticed that many
foreign television programmes have subtitles? Today, films on video and DVD are often
available with subtitles. These help people with hearing impairment to follow what is
being said.

All the things we have mentioned are good for everyone, not only for persons with
disability.

   •   Everyone enjoys reading a story in large font or to hear it through headphones.
   •   Everyone enjoys reading a book or leaflet written in an easy-to-read style.
   •   I think that when mum and dad push their baby’s pram or buggy, they too
       appreciate automatic doors.
   •   Sub-titles are used frequently in bars and restaurants especially when a football
       game is being shown and because of all the shouting, the commentator cannot be
       heard.

Such changes were initially made to help persons with disability but in a short time they
were found to be comfortable also for people without a disability.

Since persons with disability need things to be done differently, according to their needs,
clever people (like Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone) developed ways
of helping them that eventually started to be used also by those without a disability. In
this way, persons with disability become more independent and society becomes more
comfortable for everyone.

Therefore, the slogan we have chosen for this year’s Persons with Disability Week is,
“Indaqs: Tajjeb Ghalija, Tajjeb Ghalik! (Equal: Good for Me, Good for You!)
                                                                                   23




MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION

The members of the Commission are appointed for a period of two years by the Prime
Minister on the recommendation of the Minister of the Family and Social Solidarity. In
October 2006, a new Commission was appointed and the new members are:

Chairman: Mr Joseph M. Camilleri
Vice-Chairman: Ms Rita Vella
The Ministry of the Family and Social Solidarity: Mr Jesmond Schembri
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment: Mr George Borg
The Ministry of Health and Community Services: Dr Taygeta Firman
The Ministry of Finance: Mr Alfred Camilleri
The Ministry for Gozo: Mr Noel Formosa
The Local Council Association: Ms Sarah Cuschieri
The University of Malta: Dr Marie Alexander
The Maltese Archdiocese: Fr Martin Micallef
The Voluntary Sector: Ms Maria Concetta Bonnici
Mr Ronald Galea
Ms Marchita Mangiafico
Dr Daniela Mangion
Ms. Ingrid Valenzia
Mr Epifanio Vella
Executive Secretary/Director: Mr Fred Bezzina

The Commission takes this opportunity to thank Ms Myriam Aquilina, Dr Anthony
Charles, Mr Carl Borg, Mr John Peel, Ms Marthese Mugliette, Ms Pamela Muscat and Dr
Marvic Sammut who gave their services voluntarily as members of KNPD for the
previous two years.

				
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