[Bulgaria] International Day of People with Disabilities

05 Dec 2019
National Network for Children Bulgaria

The National Children's Network (NCN) reported that 3 December was International Day of People with Disabilities. The event featured the exhibition ‘We Can Also!’, organized by the Parents in Action civic formation, which emphasizes the right of young people with intellectual disabilities to work. The exhibited photographs presented the experiences and daily struggles of young people, obstacles, prejudices and the pursuit of their dreams. Young people told their personal stories to inspire others like them, and demonstrated that despite the social stigma, they have successfully defended their right to work and personal development. The event was also attended by employers who shared their experience of hiring young people with intellectual disabilities. The Bulgarian Ombudsman issued a special recommendation to major Bulgarian employers' organizations to support the right of persons with disabilities to work.

The NCN states that any discussion of the problems of people with disabilities should ‘focus on the person and his individuality and dignity, rather than on his/her disability’. The European model of disability policies is social, not medical, in nature, and this model should be followed in Bulgaria as well. The medical approach focuses on the body and its deficits, which leads to the categorization of a physical disability as a disease and to the formation of an attitude aimed at a patient instead of an individual with possibilities and skills. The social approach, on the other hand, regards the environment as the main factor for the problems of people with disabilities, not their condition. The lack of hospitality towards differences comes through in society through prejudice, stereotype and physical barriers, such as inaccessible public transport. In other words, attention should be paid not to the disability, but to the skills and knowledge of the individual.

The NCN article also emphasizes that the state's education system remains inaccessible to children with disabilities. This was noted by Nadezhda Deneva, a child protection expert, at the presentation of the Voice of the Bulgarian Children analysis at the Bulgarian School of Politics, ‘Dimitar Panitza’, in 2018. The main problems are related to processes such as deinstitutionalization and the fact that, for children with disabilities, entering a public school, as well as going out into neighbourhood streets, is extremely difficult. Deneva mentions that, in order for integration to be functional, it cannot be a one-sided process; it requires a change in the community, not just closed homes for children, since without this change the newly built institutions will resemble the old ones in their functionality.


This project is funded by: