KANBrief 2/16

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the German Social Accident Insurance

By ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) in 2009, Germany has undertaken to create equality of access for all people to the physical environment, transportation, information, communications, education and training, and work. The convention is addressed to all state institutions and bodies incorporated under public law. The DGUV has taken up the topic with an action plan.

The German Federal government specifically named the statutory accident insurance bodies as its partner in implementation of the CRPD when it ratified the convention. In consequence, the Governing Committee of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) undertook in 2011 to produce an action plan1 for implementation of the UN CRPD in all accident insurance institutions and in their facilities, such as the DGUV clinics. The action plan (pdf) is addressed to the German Social Accident Insurance itself, but is also intended to motivate other parties to create workplaces for persons with disabilities on the primary labour market and to make working premises and educational establishments accessible to the widest possible group of people.

The action plan contains 73 measures, which in turn are cross-referenced to twelve targets and five fields of action: awareness-raising, participation, accessibility, individualization and diversity, and living environments and inclusion. The measures relate essentially to working and educational life, i.e. the life environments covered by the German statutory accident insurance system. They were compiled and prioritized following intensive status review among the DGUV member institutions.

First phase successfully implemented

The action plan was the first within the social security institutions in Germany, and initially ran from 2012 to 2014. Numerous measures were completed and evaluated within this period. These measures included development of a series of specifications, checklists and guides, for instance for accessible work design and for invitations and events designed for accessibility. Further examples are publications in plain language, and the "Gold" film. Examples of good practice (pdf, in German) were compiled in a brochure in order to encourage others to emulate them.

Some of the measures have yet to be completed. For example, a model project is still in progress in two DGUV clinics. In this project, amputees are able to pass on their experience in the clinic and in everyday life to newly affected individuals. In order to continue the strategies already embarked upon and to develop them further, the DGUV followed up the action plan in 2015 with Action Plan 2.0 (pdf, in German). Action Plan 2.0 is to consolidate the measures already implemented by 2017 with the aid of a steering group on which people with disabilities and delegates from the prevention and rehabilitation departments of the accident insurance institutions are represented. The objective is for the values of the UN CRPD to be taken on board by the staff of the statutory accident insurance institutions as a matter of course and to become part of their everyday working practices.

Some new measures have the function of extending the first action plan. These include the requirement that during the term of Action Plan 2.0, the research funding granted by the DGUV is to be used to a greater extent than in the past for research into participation, including in the area of prevention. Further measures are activities at company level, for example to assist companies in drawing up action plans of their own.

The individual accident insurance institutions are also expanding existing resources for the schools sector and distributing them through a dedicated health portal for schools (in German). These resources include teaching materials for inclusion in the school subjects of physical education and English, and seminars on schools designed for accessibility.

In co-operation with the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), importance was attached from the outset during production of the DGUV Action Plan to close intermeshing with the German government's National Action Plan for implementation of the UN CRPD. The German cabinet is to reach a decision on further development of the National Action Plan (Version 2.0) (pdf, in German) before its summer recess.

One world of work for all

Since its inception, the aim of the German statutory accident insurance system has always been that after suffering an accident or occupational disease, people should if at all possible return to their jobs, or at least to working life. It is therefore important to reinforce awareness of the benefits of diversity within companies. An inclusive company is in particular one in which barriers have been eliminated – not least in the minds of the employees.

Dr. jur. Friedrich Mehrhoff