Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has announced that at the end of this month the government will approve a national strategy for the inclusion of people with disabilities, which will include measures to support employment and improve accessibility.
At the opening session of the second day of the high-level videoconference on the European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, under the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union, Costa considered the adoption of this instrument as “a milestone in the construction of Europe”.
The prime minister highlighted some of the instruments that, since 2015, the governments he has led have implemented in this area, such as a social benefit for inclusion, the legal regime for inclusive education or the model support programme for independent living.
“At the end of this month of April, after an in-depth articipation of non-governmental organisations of people with disabilities, of the various sectoral areas of government action and of public consultation, we will approve our National Strategy for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities on the horizon 2021-2030,” Costa told the session on Tuesday (20 April).
Of the planned initiatives, the prime minister highlighted the employment support programme for people with disabilities, which aims to “boost and strengthen support and incentives for hiring people with disabilities”, in order to facilitate their direct assimilation into the labour market, with instruments also foreseen to support entrepreneurship for this target audience.
“In the field of accessibility, the 360 degrees accessibility programme will reinforce investment in improving physical accessibility, contributing to mitigating the isolation of people with disabilities,” he said, adding that this programme provides for measures on roads, in public buildings and in housing.
Costa also highlighted a platform “More Access” that will aggregate useful information and digital solutions in the area of inclusion of people with disabilities.
In the field of social responses, the prime minister underlined the creation, in March, of occupational activity and training centres for inclusion, aimed at people with disabilities over the age of 18.
“In the area of autonomy and independent living, we are assessing existing solutions and creating proximity solutions in the community, adjusted to the needs of people in the promotion of autonomy,” he said.
The strategy will also evaluate personal assistance pilot projects for independent living in order to have a definitive solution in this area by 2023.
“We have an ambitious strategy and ambitious programs, hopefully effective to produce what we aspire: a fairer society, which leaves no one behind,” he said.
At the level of the European strategy, presented by the European Commission in March, Costa challenged the European institutions and each Member State to be aware of the needs of people with disabilities “in policies, legislation and in all projects funded by the European Union”.
“Only with awareness, governance and monitoring will it be possible to guarantee results”, he argued.
[Edited by Josie Le Blond]