Despite their pledges to do otherwise, legislators and policy makers in both Israel and Australia still do not fully respect the perspectives and wishes of people with “mental disabilities,” according to two articles in Disability and Society.
In one study, Israeli researchers reviewed all disability-related laws and regulations in Israel from 1948 to the present to determine if these were either “bio-medical-based” policies that treated people with disabilities as “impaired” individuals for whom decisions had to be made by others, or “rights-based” policies that sought to recognize and strengthen the civil rights of people with disabilities.
“Findings show that most of the legislation reflects the bio-medical approach,” the researchers wrote. “Bio-medical-based legislation is being carried out in Israel alongside rights-based legislation even after the enactment of the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law of 1998. It seems that legislators tend to perceive disability as synonymous to impairment, as a personal tragedy and a medical problem, rather than as a civil rights issue.”
In another paper, a University of Notre Dame researcher examined policy documents for Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme. “Although my study finds some evidence of openness in the policy development stage, the scheme falls short of valuing the diverse voices of disabled people as partners in shared dialogue,” the author wrote.
Rimmerman, Arie, Michal Soffer, Dana David, Tsilly Dagan, Roni Rothler, and Lior Mishaly. “Mapping the Terrain of Disability Legislation: The Case of Israel.” Disability & Society 30, no. 1 (January 2, 2015): 46–58. doi:10.1080/09687599.2014.982784. (Absract)
Thill, Cate. “Listening for Policy Change: How the Voices of Disabled People Shaped Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme.” Disability & Society 30, no. 1 (January 2, 2015): 15–28. doi:10.1080/09687599.2014.987220. (Abstract)