National People with Disabilities Social Inclusion Program
The main aim of the project – implementation of various measures of the National People with Disabilities Social Inclusion Program 2013-2019. These measures include protecting the rights of persons with disability; furthering the qualifications of specialists; development of independent living skills; the organization of cultural and sporting events with the purpose of ensuring that various types of activities are available to persons with disabilities, thereby reducing social exclusion and removing physical barriers that hamper persons with disabilities participation in all levels of society.
Within the framework of the project the following activities are planned:
“Round Table” Discussions. This activity is planned as a continuation of activities launched in 2011. The welfare of persons with disabilities depends not only on what the State can provide, but also on people with disabilities themselves and how they interact with the State and local government on issues affecting their lives. It is planned to organize a series of one day ”Round table” discussions in 10 municipalities where there are LAPD association members and public companies – Kupiškis, Molėtai, Panevežys, Radviliškis, Šakiai, Ukmergė, Utena, Vilkaviškis, Alytus and Vilnius. LAPD will invite members and activists of LAPD regional organization boards/councils, representatives of other disability NGOs that are active in a given municipality, representatives of local government, business and the media to the “Round Table” discussions with the aim of discussing the most pertinent problems in a given municipality and together to look for specific ways of addressing these issues.
Monitoring of Legislation, Legal Advice and Consultations for Persons with Disabilities and Their Family Members. Slowly attitudes towards people with disabilities are changing in Lithuania. Short-term and long-term programs have been launched aimed at ensuring the protection of people with disabilities from discrimination, increasing opportunities to access various measures aimed at the social and economic integration and full participation of people with disabilities in society, as well as the development of new legislation which is actual to persons with disabilities.
It is essential to regularly monitor existing legislation and regulations foremost to ensure that it actually protects the rights of persons with disabilities and ensures equal opportunities; to ensure that it adheres to the objectives set when the legislation was adopted and that its implementation does not lead to unintended negative consequences.
Today there are problems relating to the provision of legal aid to persons with disability which would ensure that their rights are protected. Since 2000 under the State Guaranteed Legal Aid Law, municipal administration officials, staff, as well as lawyers and specialists from public institutions with which the municipality has entered into a contract, should provide initial legal aid to persons with disability.
According to legislation these consultations can be no more than one hour’s duration (the consultation can be extended on the authorization of the municipality) and only once for the same issue. However, in many cases one hour’s consultation is not sufficient. According to the State Audit Office report, some municipalities do not have suitable conditions to provide this service and therefore provision of this service is limited: – in many cases people are not pleased with the work hours, entrances to the facilities are often inaccessible for persons with disabilities or the elderly, there are no conditions for confidential consultations, consultations are not available by phone or e-mail and as there is a lack of information about the service resulting in many people not being aware of this opportunity. Therefore, a lawyer is available at the LAPD office, who works on a regular basis and can provide legal assistance (legal advice, prepare legal documents, excluding documents for the courts, for state and municipal and other institutions, offer advice on disputes to be settled out of court and other legal issues) to individuals with disabilities by telephone, e-mail or at the organization’s office.
Executive Leader Forums. Leaders from the LAPD associate members will participate in five one-day “Executive Leader Forums” which will take place in Vilnius. 20 participants, including 15 people with disabilities, will discuss problems relating to co-operation with local government and other non-governmental organizations; discuss potential solutions to these problems; share best practices; discuss important changes/decisions relating to the activities of disability NGOS; explore alternative funding opportunities; look at how persons with disability and disability organizations should not only participate in decision-making processes, but also impact on the adoption of important decisions, and other issues relating to persons with disability.