Not just Welfare Ministry should care about disabled people, says organization

If people with disabilities remain solely the responsibility of the Ministry of Welfare (LM), then there is little hope of change, said Gunta Anča, Head of Sustento, the Latvian Umbrella Body for Disability Organizations, in an interview on Latvian Radio on July 23. 

She emphasized that “people with disabilities have desires to learn, travel, and work”; therefore, other ministries should also participate in furthering the interests of the said persons. A single ministry cannot cover all the areas where people with disabilities tend to be employed.

The European Disability Strategy 2020 –2030 is currently under development, and is being discussed at an international conference. Anča said that the strategy mentions inclusive education, vocational education, employment, and services which seek to help adults with disabilities live independently and assist families with children having special needs.

“There are many questions about various kinds of services. Specifically, what kinds of services should be provided to allow people with disabilities to lead fully independent lives,” said Anča. 

After the strategy is developed on the European level, Latvia will have to determine its own course of action. “Even though a lot has changed […] there are still a lot of problems,” said Anča. 

Her main concern is that many of the special schools are still situated outside of cities. "These children are taken away and kept hidden until society is ready to accept them,” said Anča. Moreover, the state is still doing little to further the employment of people with disabilities.

Likewise, the CEO of Sustento pointed out that Latvia lacks its own strategy. The politicians have, however, expressed interest in the issue, and Anče hopes it will be possible to pique their interest further.

"To a large extent, these are political decisions that have to be taken,” said Anča.

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