Disabled get new voice in Basel

Disabled integration is high on the agenda in canton Basel City Keystone

Switzerland’s first local government official dealing specifically with disabled issues has started work in canton Basel City.

This content was published on September 1, 2003 minutes

Martin Haug says his role is to advise the disabled of their rights, inform the public and hopefully serve as a model for the rest of the country.

One of his jobs is to work with the city authorities to ensure public buildings across Basel offer better access to the disabled.

Three months ago the Swiss voted in a nationwide referendum against a proposal to give the disabled better access to public buildings.

But Haug says his job is about more than just removing physical obstacles for the disabled. It is also about empowering disabled people to take control of their own lives.

“There are very few disabled people who fight to improve their situation,” he said. “There has to a big movement of disabled who continuously put pressure on the politicians to improve the situation.”

Disabled rights

The new post developed from a concept, “Adults with disabilities”, which Haug and his colleagues presented to the city’s education department in September 2001.

Haug is getting SFr70,000 ($50,000) per year from the authorities to set up integrative activities.

“That’s a small amount, but we don’t actually want a special fund for the disabled,” he said. “We want to ensure that public funds in general are also used for the disabled.”

More than 62 per cent of voters turned down May’s proposal to grant the country’s 700,000 disabled access to all public buildings. The high cost was thought to have persuaded voters to reject the initiative.

Currently, less than 30 per cent of buildings across Switzerland are accessible to the disabled.

swissinfo, Billi Bierling


On May 18 the Swiss population voted against a proposal that would have improved access to public buildings for the disabled.
The post as representative for the disabled is a newly created job, exclusively for canton Basel City.
About 10% of citizens in Basel have some sort of disability.

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