President Dilma Rousseff signed Monday (July 6) Brazil's Disability Inclusion Act – Statute on Persons with Disabilities, a legal framework on the rights of physically and intellectually challenged people.
The document was approved by Congress in June. It provides definitions on disabilities, priority treatment in public services for people with disabilities, and focuses on public policy in such areas as education, health, work, urban infrastructure, culture, and sports.
The Head of the Human Rights Secretariat, Pepe Vargas, said the statute consolidates and enhances government policies aimed at persons with disabilities, and added that local and state governments will also share the responsibilities. “We now have a law that must be fully implemented, and this places Brazil among the countries that have advanced and important legislation in place to state the rights of people with disabilities,” he said.
The chairman of the National Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Flávio Souza, said there are 45 million people with some kind of disability in Brazil, and vowed that the organization will keep a close watch on the statute implementation. “We will be on guard. This is a major achievement we got from the government. It's an important step not only for the people, [but] for Brazil, because it embraces people with disabilities, once and for all, as a human rights issue.”
Among the innovations introduced by the new law is an inclusion stipend to be paid to people with mild or severe disabilities entering the job market; punishment of discrimination against persons with disabilities with one to three years' jail time; and a 10% quota for persons with disabilities to study at higher and technical education institutions.
In order to ensure accessibility, the law also establishes that the existing Statute on Cities must be changed to make the central government share the responsibility of local and state governments for improving sidewalks and public areas to enable access for people with disabilities.
Translated by Mayra Borges