Inclusion Europe wants people to know what happened to people with intellectual disabilities and their families during the Covid-19 crisis. We decided to work on a report that shows people with intellectual disabilities were segregated and discriminated against once more in the European counties. Read the COVID report 2020 by Inclusion Europe.
The Covid-19 crisis did not in fact bring new issues concerning the situation of people with intellectual disabilities: it intensified, magnified the segregation and discrimination of people with intellectual disabilities. Many human rights of people with intellectual disabilities were violated during this period. The Coronavirus crisis sheds light on their exclusion; it should spur governments and institutions to finally design and deliver a world that includes people with intellectual disabilities and their families. The European Union must build a stronger social union to protect European citizens and people living in the EU.
Our members, other disability organisations and NGOs undertook a tremendous amount of work to provide support during the pandemic. They advocated to uphold the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families across Europe. They provided support and care. They stepped in to fill so many gaps in how the governments informed the public about the situation. Governments turned to them in the time of crisis – they must turn to them also when distributing money in the recovery process. Milan Šveřepa, director of Inclusion Europe
It has been nearly 8 months since the pandemic started… and the world we used to know has changed significantly. However, for people with intellectual disabilities, most of the problems already existed, and have simply been exacerbated and sometimes made visible to the general public. – Jyrki Pinomaa Inclusion Europe president
Investigation and data collection
Having data to measure the consequences and impact of Covid-19 is a necessity. Data should be collected in a coordinated, comprehensive manner, disaggregated by age, gender and type of disability. This is a crucial aspect, as it is the starting point to understand how the Coronavirus crisis has affected people with disabilities and to draft an appropriate response.
The need to harmonise the process of collecting the data (whether people died in institutions, hospitals or at home) is essential. For instance, knowing the death rates of people in residential institutions compared to the ones living in the community is crucial for understanding the role large, congregated settings played in the spread of the virus. The European Union and the Member States should investigate and assess the extent and consequences of the Coronavirus on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
Residential care institutions
The institutionalisation of people is harmful and constitutes degrading treatment, in violation of EU values of respect for human dignity, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. As the Member States are proving to be unwilling or unable to realise the transition to community-based care, the EU should explore new ways of ensuring that the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities ends.
To end institutionalisation and segregation of people with intellectual disabilities in residential institutions, the EU has to urge Member States to fulfil their obligations under article 19 of the CRPD. To prevent further harm, funding during recovery should be allocated to disability services and organisations. Recovery funding must be specifically allocated to community-based disability support and services.
People with intellectual disabilities were not, once again, considered from the beginning. Coronavirus proved the necessity of improving the accessibility of health care services and emergency responsiveness. Education is needed for health and social care professionals working in hospitals or emergency centres, to be aware of the situation of people with intellectual disabilities. A human rights-based approach to healthcare services must be taught to avoid discrimination. Support and better communication with patients with intellectual disabilities is needed. The EU must develop guidelines on providing health care to people with intellectual disabilities.
Information and consultation
The lack of accessible information is a direct consequence of the lack of consideration and consultation with people with intellectual disabilities in policy-making. There is a general lack of consultation of people with intellectual disabilities; the pandemic showed that people with intellectual disabilities were rarely consulted in efforts to contain the pandemic. Providing public information services in an accessible manner, such as phone helplines (112) is a necessity. Specific measures such as helplines that are accessible for people with intellectual disabilities are also required.
Information that is easy to understand, such as easy-to-read, benefits everyone in a crisis. People with disabilities are often portrayed only as “vulnerable”; in fact, they played a significant role in ensuring the public received information that was easy to understand and relevant to the many situations people find themselves in. The EU has to monitor and ensure that the Member States provide the information in an accessible manner as is mandatory. People with intellectual disabilities and their representative organisations have to be consulted.
“We must be included in discussions about the way services will be provided. We need to make sure that our rights are respected and that we are not left behind. Self-advocates have a voice. We must to be heard.” László Bercse, chair of EPSA
Women and girls with intellectual disabilities
Women with intellectual disabilities are more likely to experience violence. And the rate of violence against women has increased during the pandemic. It is a necessity to ensure women with intellectual disabilities are included in the mainstream protection mechanisms and that a specific focus, support and means are provided to ensure they are in a safe environment, away from any aggressor and with the necessary support.
Read the COVID report 2020 by Inclusion Europe.
The report is available in other languages:
French – Covid report FR
Spanish – Covid report ES
Lázsló Bercse talks about the Covid impact and recovery at the European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference. Read the speech in:
Soufiane El Amrani and Milan Sverepa spoke at the CRPD Conference of State Parties. Read the speech in:
All our Covid related reports and news.