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The ILO has commissioned this paper on ‘The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities’ as a contribution to the deliberations taking place in preparation for the development of a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The paper is intended to be of specific relevance to those involved in drafting the provisions concerning employment and work in the proposed Convention. By examining the development over time of the ‘right to work’ of disabled persons, the way in which this matter has been dealt with in international instruments and national legislation to date, and the experience in implementing employment and work opportunities, the paper will enable those involved in the preparation of the proposed UN Convention to build on achievements so far.
A summary overview of the principal international legal instruments and policy of relevance to the rights of people with disabilities, with a particular focus on employment and work, is given at the outset. This is followed, in Chapter 1, by a more detailed description of international instruments, policies and initiatives, including reference to the debates which have taken place about their effectiveness in practice.
In Chapter 2, the focus is on the different options open to people with disabilities who wish to work in open/competitive employment, sheltered employment, supported employment and social enterprises. The chapter examines available evidence on the trends in each of these categories and highlights the key issues faced in each case.
Chapter 3 deals with the main approaches which have been adopted at national level to assist people with disabilities in securing, retaining and advancing in employment and work, including legislation; employment services; training for employment; disability management; financial, technical and personal supports; and/persuasion measures. The chapter also touches on the processes of consultation, information gathering, monitoring and evaluation which are essential elements of effective policies.
Chapter 4 reviews the key areas which still require attention, in spite of the range of measures introduced at international, regional and national level to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The chapter suggests ways in which progress might be made in each of these areas, and goes on to propose general principles which should inform the new UN Convention, along with concrete provisions which the Convention might contain.
Annex 1 contains definitions of the key terms used, while Annex 2 gives a historical flavour to the paper, by tracing the development of work and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in different industrialized countries in the early twentieth century.