Eliminating discrimination and ensuring accessibility: Practice tips for NHRIs
Graphic: A mural about accessibility prepared for World Disability Day on a public wall in Christchurch, New
- NHRIs have clear legal duties under the Convention to refrain from discriminating against persons with disabilities and an affirmative duty to be accessible.
- NHRIs should conduct a baseline review across all their operations to identify existing barriers for people with disabilities.
- NHRIs should seek input from individuals or organisations with specialist technical expertise to address the barriers they identify.
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) should aim to be leaders in the way they engage with people with disabilities. This significantly enhances the credibility and the effectiveness of the NHRI, and provides a model for other organisations and service providers to follow.
NHRIs also have clear legal duties under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – and, in some countries, from national laws – to refrain from discriminating against people with disabilities. They also have an affirmative duty to be accessible.
NHRIs should consider all aspects of their operations to ensure that they are accessible to people with different types of impairments. This can include conducting a comprehensive review of:
- Organisational ethos and culture
- Awareness, attitudes and behaviours of staff and Commissioners
- Physical accessibility
- Accessible information and communication
- Providing advice and handling complaints
- Research, investigation and inquiries
- Involving and consulting with external stakeholders
- Procurement and contracting.
See below for a checklist with key questions to reflect further on each of these issues.
NHRIs should conduct a baseline review of their operations, services and facilities to identify existing barriers for people with disabilities and develop solutions to address those barriers.
NHRIs should conduct a baseline review of their operations to identify existing barriers for people with disabilities. As far as possible, NHRIs should involve people with disabilities in this baseline review.
After identifying barriers in their operations or policies, NHRIs should:
- Develop and implement an action plan to ensure accessibility, with a timeline, a statement of resources, responsible person(s) and a review/monitoring mechanism
- Periodically review the plan, especially drawing on feedback from people with disabilities
- Actively involve people with disabilities, including staff and those external to the organisation, in monitoring and reviewing progress towards accessibility.
NHRIs should also seek input from individuals or organisations with specialist technical expertise to address these barriers and build capacity; for example, in relation to making their premises physically accessible and providing accessible information and modes of communication.
Organisational ethos and values
Has our organisation made a clear statement regarding its commitment to respect the rights of people with disabilities? How do we measure whether we are living up to our ethos and values?
Awareness, attitudes and behaviours of staff and Commissioners
Have our staff and commissioners received disability equality training? Do staff understand the concepts of reasonable accommodation and accessibility and are they supported to apply them in their work?
Are our premises accessible to staff and visitors with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental impairments? Can they get to our premises using public transport? If our premises are not yet accessible, what other ways can we employ, engage with or provide services to people with disabilities?
Accessible information and communication
Do we provide our information in alternative formats? Can people with disabilities use our website? Are we able to communicate with people who use sign language or whose language is non-verbal?
Do our governance processes enable the full participation of people with disabilities? For example, where meeting are held, the organisation of agendas and paperwork.
Are we confident of non-discriminatory practice in the way we design job roles and descriptions, recruit, develop and retain staff, and in our day-to-day workplace practices and expectations?
Providing advice and handling complaints
Can people with disabilities make a compliant to us without experiencing barriers? Do we respond to complaints in ways that are accessible? How do we ensure non-discrimination and access in the way we provide advice and assistance to individuals?
Involvement and consultation
Can people with disabilities participate fully in our consultations and activities, such as meetings, seminars and conferences? Do we undertake outreach to ensure we hear from people with disabilities, especially those most marginalised?
Research, investigations and inquiries
Are our methodologies accessible and appropriate for people with disabilities? For example, public polling, focus groups, participatory research, seeking witness statements and holding hearings.
Procurement and contracting
Can people with disabilities or their representatives bid for tenders and carry out contracts without experiencing barriers? Do we promote the rights of people with disabilities through our procurement and contracting?
Find out more
Chapter 10, Human Rights and Disability: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions (APF, 2017)
- A mural about accessibility prepared for World Disability Day on a public wall in Christchurch, New - New Zealand Human Rights Commission
- Staff of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal take part in a strategic planning session - National Human Rights Commission of Nepal