The FRA's work on disability rights
A rights-based approach to disability
There are about 80 million EU citizens with a disability. They make an enormous contribution to European society, but often face barriers to doing so.
People with disabilities "include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others," according to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The FRA looks at where barriers exist and identifies how some European countries have successfully removed them, to facilitate the full participation of people with disabilities.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits discrimination (unfair treatment) on the ground of disability and recognises the right of persons with disabilities "to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community."
Most recent FRA publications
"Individuals" with rights, not "objects" of charity
The FRA's disability work is framed by the United Nations' CRPD convention: the Convention recognises that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. Therefore society has an obligation to adapt to facilitate the full participation of people with disabilities.
The convention was written with and by people with disabilities, in line with the disability movement's slogan: "Nothing about us without us". This philosophy guides the FRA's work related to disability rights.
Choice and control: The right to independent living- (June 2012)
How the FRA supports disability rights
The FRA carries out legal and social research and analysis of key fundamental rights issues.
The Legal research examines comparatively EU legal provisions and measures.
Social research can be either quantitative or qualitative. For example, for the project on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems we conducted in-depth interviews with people with disabilities and also asked then to document their everyday lives through "photo voice". Learn more about photo voice.
In this project our research also involved discussions in focus groups that brought together people with disabilities and those who form an important part of their lives, such as carers, personal assistants and service providers.
For more on FRA's work on disability rights contact: email@example.com
The FRA disability project - postcard (May 2011)
The FRA project on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems (FRIDA)
The FRA first started its work on disability rights by looking at the situation of people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems. Though distinct, these two groups often face the same reaction from society: stigma and social exclusion. For more about the FRIDA project.
Children with disabilities
In 2012, the FRA is beginning work on children with disabilities regarding discrimination or disability-related hostility that can be expressed in bullying and harassment.
To guide future research and data collection work on disability rights, the FRA will be working on rights based indicators according to the conceptual and methodological framework developed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR) on selected rights covered by the CRPD. The work of the Agency in this regard will be informed by the work of key EU and UN actors, such as the European Commission, Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED), the Council of Europe (CoE), as well as the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG) on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Indicators, etc.
Multiple and intersectional discrimination
The FRA is also looking into issues of multiple and intersectional discrimination in accessing healthcare. Such discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly because of two or more of their characteristics, for example, because they are female and because they have a disability. Learn more about the FRA's work on multiple discrimination.
Beyond the FRA
The FRA works with all the main players involved in effectively bringing the convention to life, such as EU Institutions, the Council of Europe, national human rights institutions and equality bodies, and, in particular, disabled persons' organisations and other civil society representatives.
Key texts and policy documents
Below are some of the key legal instruments and policy documents in the area of disability in the European Union.
The FRA's partners working on disability rights
The FRA works with many partners including representative organisations of persons with disabilities. Below is the list of some of the main organisations and institutions with whom the FRA regularly cooperates.
Has your country ratified the UN's disability convention?
The UN convention has now been signed by 153 countries worldwide, and ratified (made legally binding) by 116.
90 countries have signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention, and 66 have ratified it.
The following EU Member States have ratified the CRPD:
The EU also formally acceded to the Convention on 23 December 2010, the first legally binding international human rights instrument to which the EU is party.
See the United Nations map of ratifications.
FRA organises expert meeting on children with disabilities(26 April 2012)
The economic crisis threatens participation and inclusion of people with disabilities (02 December 2011)
This year's European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference, on 1-2 December in Brussels, specifically focuses on the effects of the crisis on people with disabilities. It brings together organisations representing people with disabilities and relevant stakeholders to identify best practice solutions to offset the effects of the economic crisis on people with disabilities. On this important European Day, the FRA underlines that it will continue its efforts to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities.
New FRA report: there is a need to improve the fulfilment of the rights of people with mental health problems(25 October 2011)
FRA launches the second publication of the project on the ‘Fundamental rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems'.
FRA supports independent living for people with disabilities(13 September 2011)
The FRA is speaking at the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) conference on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Strasbourg on 13 September 2011. While in Strasbourg, the FRA is also attending ENIL’s fifth Freedom Drive.
Statement by FRA Director Morten Kjaerum on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities(03 December 2010)
3 December is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. To mark this date, the European Commission and the European Disability Forum are organising a conference, looking at disability policy and practice in the European Union and suggesting ways in which it can be improved.
New FRA report on the right of persons with disabilities to vote(08 November 2010)
If your vote is not counted, do you not count?
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has published a report on the right to political participation of persons with mental health problems and persons with intellectual disabilities in the European Union (EU).
FRA disability project stakeholder meeting (05 November 2010)
The right to independent living for people with disabilities presented at Mental Health Europe conferenceDate: 14 - 16 June 2012
Location: Vienna (Austria)