Work to promote the Convention
In our role as Independent for Northern Ireland (IMNI), we organised seminars to provide information on how people with disabilities and representative organisations can get involved in the CRPD reporting process, and also to further refine our own submissions to the UN Committee. They had the opportunity to:
learn about and suggest refinements to our proposed policy submissions to the UN Committee regarding key disability issues in Northern Ireland
suggest refinements to disability research currently being undertaken by QUB on our behalf to examine shortfalls in public policy and service delivery
hear how you can best influence and directly engage with the UN Committee to advance disability issues; and
as a group, discuss the key issues that disabled people and their representative organisations may wish to raise themselves with the UN Committee.
Queen's University of Belfast's research team provided to the audiences information on the key rights issues for disabled people in Northern Ireland, which will form our 'list of issues'. You can view their presentation
In December 2013 IMNI hosted a workshop for disabled people and representative organisations to provide best practice examples on how best to influence and directly engage with the UN Committee to advance disability issues.
The event was facilitated by Marianne Schulze, Chairperson of the Austrian Independent Monitoring Committee and author of an international handbook on the human rights of persons with disabilities, entitled Understanding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (pdf, 2010)
Platform event: Making the Disability Convention rights a reality in Northern Ireland
In December 2010, a platform event provided a unique opportunity to learn more about the Convention and the impact it will have on existing and future policy, legislation, jurisprudence and life in Northern Ireland. It provided the first opportunity for people with disabilities to have a chance to have their say on what the priorities for change should be in Northern Ireland. Read our press release (pdf) about the event.
UNCRPD research: Shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland (2014)
Shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland relative to the Articles of the UNCRPD
Queens University of Belfast research team were commissioned by the Equality Commission on behalf of IMNI to consider the 3 key cross-cutting areas identified in the 2010 research. This research found that priority gaps identified in 2010 remained - specifically with respect to: Awareness raising (Article 8); Participation in political and public life (Article 29); Access to information (Articles 9 and 21) and Statistics and data collection (Article 31).
In addition, the 2014 research found substantive shortfalls with respect to:
Equality and non-discrimination (Article 5)
Equal recognition before the law (Article 12)
Living independently and being included in the community (Article 19)
Education (Article 24)
Health (Article 25)
Adequate standard of living and social protection (Article 28)
The research also identified key policy and programme areas with significant shortfalls relative to the requirements of the UNCRPD. These included:
Transforming your care
Northern Ireland Mental Capacity Bill
Welfare reform programme
Special Educational Needs and inclusion review
Download the research:
UNCRPD research: How does NI measure up? (2010)
Disability programmes and policies: How does Northern Ireland measure up?
In 2010, the first piece of formal research under UNCRPD was undertaken to demonstrate the impact shortfalls in public policy and programmes in Northern Ireland have on everyday lives and the challenges and achievements people with disabilities have experienced.
Download the research:
The research presented robust evidence on three key cross-cutting* areas of substantive shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland needing immediate action to meet UNCRPD requirements, relative to Articles 5-31 of the UNCPRD.
Awareness raising (Article 8)
Participation in political and public life (Article 29)
Statistics and data collection (Article 31) and access to information (Articles 9 and 21)
* Cross-cutting Articles are those Articles and obligations which have a fundamental influence on the delivery of all Articles. Good delivery on these Articles will have a positive effect, whereas poor implementation will have a negative influence.
Other important areas identified were independent living, education, welfare reform, health and social care and work and employment.
Listen to the Equality Commission's Chief Executive, Dr Evelyn Collins, CBE talk about the significance of:
the three key areas identified by the 2010 research
the Commission's role and the importance of UNCRPD
how this research will be used to help inform Government and Public Policy makers when they are considering issues which may affect the lives of disabled people.
Disability related research (2013 & 2010)
In 2013, we commissioned Adapt NI to research and measure access to services as experienced by disabled people across Northern Ireland. It identified the need for improvements in how service premises are used, how information is conveyed and the knowledge of people providing the service:
Previous to this we presented research which found that those with a declared disability highlighted considerable differences in the highest educational attainment and in participation in Further to Higher Education compared with those without a declared disability.
To find out more about our work in this area visit our Addressing inequality, Education page
Programme for Government - NI Executive: our recommendations
The Equality Commission recommends that the Programme for Government includes action to address key gaps so as to ensure compliance relating to the obligations set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities as well as other international conventions.
Disability law reform
In April 2010, Great Britain introduced the Equality Act 2010 which strengthened, simplified and harmonised disability equality law in GB. We are calling on the NI Executive to change the law here as significant gaps exist in disability equality legislation in Northern Ireland.
Download our disability law reform recommendations:
Real stories: why reform of disability discrimination is needed
We have also produced case studies to demonstrate why reform of disability equality legislation is needed. They illustrate how disabled people, their families and their carers are being affected by gaps in the current disability equality legislation in Northern Ireland. Read our real stories of why reform of disability discrimination is needed
Real stories: experiences, challenges and achievements of people with disabilities
Working together to close the gaps
The word of individuals is important when considering how policies and programmes deliver to and for people with disabilities. It helps to demonstrate the impact shortfalls in public policy and programme delivery have on the lives of individuals and is essential to our work.
We published a report entitled 'Working Together to Close the Gaps' (pdf),
containing short stories about the everyday lives of people with disabilities, sharing their experiences, challenges and achievements.
- "Simple solutions make a big difference" - Lyndsey Ewing's story
Lyndsey is deaf and has a slight learning disability. She talks about her challenges and her achievements in trying to carry out everyday tasks that others take for granted, such as getting a mobile phone fixed, booking a medical appointment and learning to drive. Lyndsey offers some positive advice to others who face similar experiences.
- "My disability does not define me" - Elizabeth Zammitt's story
Elizabeth uses a motorised wheelchair; she talks openly about her experience of life in Northern Ireland as a person with a disability.
- "My focus is on what I can do" - Collie McElroy's story
Collie broke his back in an accident at home. He talks about his role in public life, ensuring that disability issues are considered by Government and decision makers, as well as the challenges he has faced.
- "It's important to be able to work and socialize" - Conor Maguire's story
Conor has Down's Syndrome and took part in the Special Olympics in 2003, bringing home a handful of medals. He is past school age and feels that there is no real system or process in place for him.
Discrimination: attitudes and experience in Northern Ireland - Do you mean me?
Our last Equality Awareness Survey (pdf)
, published in June 2012 and entitled 'Do you mean me? Discrimination: attitudes and experience in Northern Ireland updated our knowledge of current public awareness of equality related issues and their social attitudes and perceptions.
People were asked their views and perceptions
of people with physical and learning disabilities and mental ill health. Public attitudes found that in terms of the three types of disability covered in the research, mental ill-health evoked the greatest number of negative responses. 26% said they would mind (a little or a lot) having a person with mental ill-health as a work colleague, while 24% and 37% respectively would mind having this person as a neighbour or as an in-law.
Supported legal cases - decisions and settlements
Disability is consistently the most common cause of complaints of discrimination to the Commission’s legal advice team.
While the UNCRPD set principles and standards at an international level, it gives disabled people rights, but not remedies. Many of the cases of disability discrimination that are brought to us raise issues that are covered by UNCRPD. However UNCRPD is still relatively new and we can only use its provisions to reinforce and support an argument. We can quote infringements of the rights listed in UNCRPD for the judge to consider when examining a discrimination case and to add weight to our argument.
Work with employers, service providers and public authorities
Every Customer Counts – promoting accessible services
The Commission launched the 'Every Customer Counts' initiative to help improve disabled people’s access to services across Northern Ireland. All businesses and public authorities have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people can access their services. This initiative allows service providers to work through a 4 step process designed to help them meet this requirement and provides helpful resources in the form of a self audit tool, an action plan template, good practice guides, and template customer service statement and policy template.
Mental Health Charter
The Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter provides a framework for working towards mentally healthy workplaces. Those who sign up to the Charter will undertake to promote good mental health which will be beneficial to their business, employees and the whole community in Northern Ireland. The Commission can provide those who sign up with free information and training resources to help them meet their Charter commitments.
Employer Training Programme
The Equality Commission's Advisory Services Team runs training sessions for employers, service providers and public authorities. These include training specifically relating to:
Public authorities must submit a disability action plan to the Equality Commission (unless an exemption has been granted) showing how they propose to fulfil the disability duties in relation to their functions. Public authorities must also submit an annual progress report to the Commission on the implementation of their plans. This report should form part of the authority’s annual report to the Commission on the implementation of its equality scheme.
Formal investigation: how accessible health information is for people with a learning disability
In 2008, we conducted a formal investigation into how accessible health information was for people with a learning disability. Five years later, we revisited the subject to see what progress had been made.
The original 2008 formal investigation reports
Review of the Formal Investigation into the Accessibility of Health Information for people with a Learning Disability in NI (2015):
If you would like to read more on Section 75 investigations, please visit our Investigations page
UN International Day of People with disabilities
To mark this day we publicised a number of disability cases that were settled with the support of the Equality Commission.
We also held a conference on 3 December 2014 for the public sector on their disability duties and the use of disability action plans. Read the press release>