ANED 2012 Task 4 - National Accessibility Report Country: Slovenia Author(s): , Katarina Gorenc

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1

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

ANED 2012 Task 4
-

National Accessibility Report


Country:

Slovenia

Author(s):

Darja Zaviršek
, Katarina Gorenc
, Boštjan Vernik Šetinc


The
Academic Network of European Disability experts

(ANED) was established
by
the European Commission in 2008 to provide scientific support and advice for its
disability policy Unit. In particular, the activities of the Network will support the future
development of the EU Disability Action Plan and practical implementation of th
e
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.



This country report has been prepared as input for the thematic report on
Maximising
the Impact and Effectiveness of Accessibility Measures for Goods and Services:
Learning from National Exper
ience.

The purpose of the report (
Terms of Reference
)
is to examine the impact and effectiveness of accessibility laws and standard
s in
EU/EEA countries, and mechanisms of monitoring and enforcement.


1

Accessibility laws


The main obligations re
garding

accessibility may

be deduced from the principle of
non
-
discrimination.

The g
eneral anti
-
discrimination framework is provided by

the
C
on
stitution and the
Implementation of the Principle of Equal Treatment Act

(IPETA)
1

from 2004.
Furthermore, the ratified international treaties are in principle directly
applicable law in Slovenia, so
the
European Convention on Human Rights (including
Protoc
ol 12),
the
European Social Charter and
the
UN Convention on Rights of
Peoples with Disabilities

(UNCRPD)

etc
.
,
may be app
l
ied directly, when this is
legally
possible

(i.e.
especially

in relation to

all public bodies
, when the relevant provision is
self
-
ex
ecuting
).
In principle
,

the direct effect of human right
s

law
is guaranteed, but
some may need further specification or the implementation
of
provisions. In any case
the H
uman
R
ights (HR)

provisions

should be
always
used when interpreting any
other legisla
tion in a “constitution friendly way” (for example

the principle

in dubio pro
libertatis
).
The
protection of people with disabilities is further specified by
the

Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act

(EOPDA)
2

from 2010
,
which is p
rimarily aimed to e
n
sure execution of UNCRPD.

Beside
s a

general
prohibition of discrimination of
persons with disabilities
, which includes the
reasonable accommodation obligation as a general principle (applicable also for
access to goods and services,
EOP
DA

also
provides
a
specific
right

to

non
discrimination in the area of goods and services an
d under the same provision
regulates also
accessibility of different goods and services

(Article 8)
, available to the
public
.
Many other articles
of EOPDA further

s
pecify

the accessibility
obligations

such as communication accessibility in proceedings before public bodies (access to
documentation in article 7),
accessibility
of buildings and premises (article 9),
access



1

Orig. . Zakon o uresničevanju načela

enakega obravnavanj a (ZUNEO), available in English on
http://www.zagovornik.net/en/legislation/index.html

(20.11. 2012).

2

Orig.: Zakona o izenačevanju možnosti invalidov (ZIMI)
,
http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid=201094&stevilka=4936

(06. 06. 2012)
.



2

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

to inclusive education (
article

11),
access and

choice of housing (including the
obligation for municipality to secure accessible non
-
profit housing
(
article 13), access
to information (with no extra cost
s

under article 1) access to cultural goods (ar
t
icle
15),
accessibility

of me
ans
for personal mobil
ity (road, rail, sea,
i
nternal waters
) and

transport under article 16
.


Under article 8
Discrimination in the sense of
accessibility

of goods and services
means
especially

omission of providing them to the people with disabilities or
providing
them under

different and less favourable conditions (paragraph 2). In
paragraph
3 the

EOPDA lists some
examples of
measures to abolish or overcome
barriers

for (equal) access to goods and services such as:

accessibility of
information, communication and other service
s and assista
nce in urgent cases;
abolition

of built obstacles in premises where the goods and services are provided to
the public; the obligation of public and private providers to take into account all
aspects of their accessibility for peoples with disa
bilities. Under paragraph

4
t
h
ese

measures

should be provided and secured

unless

they would
represent a
disproportionate

burden to the public or private provider of services
available

to the
public
.
In this consideration,
especially

the following criteria
should be

taken into
account; the size and resources of the relevant public or private subject, its nature,
estimated costs, expected and possible benefits of accessibility for peoples with
disabilities
and the
historical
, cultural, artistic and
architectu
ral

value

of
movable
items

and real estate (buildings). Under paragraph 5

this issue should be regulated

in

more

detail by the regulation of the Minister for
L
abour,
F
amily and
S
ocial
A
ffairs.
Unfortunately
,

even
almost

a year after the expiration of the m
aximum deadline for
this regulation prescri
bed by EOPDA, the

regulation has not been

enacted
.
3

However,

thi
s

does not
mean

that
non
-
discrimination and accessibility requirements
of
EOPDA
are
not applicable.


This regulation would undoubtedly much improve
legal certainty and can not
in any
case be
seen as an excuse

for non implementatio
n of accessibility requirements;

but
this situation certainly shows lack of due diligence and the genuine
commitment

of
the government
to actively prevent
and promote
discrim
ination

by setting clear
standards (and

lead
by

example


see also below)
.


For this reason

there are many cases of ignorance and misunderstanding of the
meaning

of the named provisions by service providers,
that have been

detected by
the Advocate of the
P
rinciple of
E
quality (
hereafter the Advocate
-

the Slovenian
equality body)
. T
here is a clear need to interpret and sometimes even construct this
legislation
.
In

the Advocate's opinion the accessibility obligations can be
predo
mina
tely seen as a reflectio
n of the prohibition of
(
in
)
direct discrimination (an
d

violation
s

are the result of the omission to treat people in different situation
s

accordingly). Furthermore
,

the concept of reasonable
accommodation

can be
also
effective on a systemic level, going bey
ond an individual case
-
by
-
case approach.
This approach was used in the Ombudsman’s practice even before 2008 (UNCRPD



3

Under the tra
n
sitional

provisions of article
43
,
the de
a
dline expired

on

11.12.2011
.


3

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

ratification
).
In one very important Constitutional Court case this approach
was used
for adjudication and therefore
was
confirmed
(see bel
ow:

the
article
on
the
r
ight to
use
Braille

in legal proceedings).


In its transitional provisions
,

the

EOPDA enacted maximum deadlines to adjust to
general access to goods and services obligations (5 years)
. Such maximum
deadlines are also put in place

fo
r certain
other
accessibility issues (i.e.
for
accessible
building premises and rail transport 15 years,
for
buses 10 years,
and
school buses 5 years

respectively
). These deadlines can not be seen as delaying the
effectiveness of th
ese obligations, but rat
her as

final
ones.

A
fter
their expiration
the
reasonable accommodation provisions/the proportionality test should be extremely
strict if not
even
irrelevant
.

The
EOPDA regulates certain additional
means

providing
for better inclusion and
prevention of dis
crimination
, such a
s
the
right to some technical aids
in addition or
when
not provided by other
legal
acts
,
(e.g. health and disability insurance
)
.
The
EOPDA

also

provides the right to be
covered

for

the

costs
of personal

vehicle
s such
as

cars
(either in t
he case when it is driven by a person with disability him/herself or
the
person is using it as a passenger)
. It stipulates provision of

a
C
all
centre

for the
deaf

(
to enable effective
communication

accessibility

for public service providers

-

not
to be con
fused with

providers of services, available to the public, which is a much
wider concept!
)
.
This Act
specifically
envisages

accessibility of communication
in any
proceedings

before public bodies and public service providers
, to ensure that blind,
visually
impaired

and deaf
-
blind person
s

have

a right to
submit and
to receive all
written material

in a form that they can understand

public expenses
(
A
rt. 7).
Other
specific regulation
s

concern for example the use of transport and
access

to public
places by peopl
e with visua
l impairments accompanied by a guide dog (
the Animal
Protection Act permits the entrance of these dogs to all places in public use and to

means of

transport.

The
EOPDA more specifically prohibits any

additional costs for
the dog on

public trans
port, and the right to the

guide dog

is regulated by
Article
94
o
f
the
R
ules of obligatory he
a
lth insurance scheme
)
.
4

A
ccording to the administrative
regulations
concerning

building per
mits, new
building
s

that

are intended for public
use need to be built a
ccording

to the accessibility standards for people with physical
(i.e., elevators, accessible housing facilities
),
and

also sens
ory
impairments (i.e.
induction loops would need to be installed)
, etc.


The
EOPDA
refers to goods and services that are meant fo
r public use.
The
obligation to provide
measures for elimination of barriers to accessibility
is subject
to
the
conditions similar to
a
reasonable accommodation

requirement
and indirect
discrimination proportionality test
, meaning that private or public s
ervice providers
need to comply
w
ith it

only
in
so far
as
it
does not pose

a
disproportional burden for
the provider

(see also above)
.
EOPDA provisions mentioned above are left to the
interpretation of anybody
. Furthermore
, there

is
hardly any

judicial cas
e
-
law on these
issues. The relevant administrative regulation
that should specify the

obligations of



4

Accessible

on

http://www.zd
-
lj.si/zdlj/images/stories/urska/pdf/pravila%20obveznega%20zdravst venega%20zavarovanja.pdf
.


4

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

the goods and services providers is absent. It should certainly serve as a sort of

a
minimal standard
.



The effectiveness of the
antidiscrimination system

in general
and
Equalisation of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act
5

was partially evaluated by the Equal
Opportunity Advocate who wrote in his last report
:


“In Slovenia a comprehensive system for a multi
-
layered action
(prevention,
promotion
, monitoring and protection)
against discrimination

does not exist
.

The
system of legal remedies against discrimination is critically ineffective
, and this
is
aggravated by

the non
-
existence

of the independent and effective equality
body and the lack of
me
ans

of NGOs and other relevant organisations, to
support and represent the
victims

in legal
proceedings.”
6



The

EOPDA
7

for instance is not
yet
implemented
seriously
because the government
has not d
eveloped specific regulations for

different articles
(the
same is
the case in
respect of

the right to be covered costs for adjustment of the personal vehicle)
which
is seen as
one of
the reason
s

that the law is not
effectively implemented
.

The
Advocate claimed
in his 2010 annual report
that
anti
-
discrimination an
d accessibility
provisions of
the law should be
certainly
implemented even without regulations, but
this
in practice means that the issue of accessibility
remains a matter of indi
vidual
interpretation (ibid.).


A
ccording to the Advocate

in Slovenia

legisl
ation
,

including
EOPDA
,

is fragmented

and the content
is
not clear
enough
and in
a specific enough
order to
avoid

different
interpret
ations. The consequences of this

are

poor practice and
a
very small
number
of
cases

that are reported as

examples of discri
mination
:

“From

the side of the
victims the protection system is complicated,
non
-
transparent and completely
ineffective
.

8


Some examples


The

exact number of discrimination
cases that have been brought
on the grounds of
disability
in relation to

goods an
d services is not available, mainly due to the lack of
a
proper monitoring system.





5

Orig.: Zakon o izenače
vanju možnosti invalidov (ZIMI),
http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid=201094&stevilka=4936

(06. 06. 2012).

6

Office for Equal Opportunities. Eq
ual Opportunities Advocate. Report for the year 2010, accepted by
the government in July 2011.
http://www.zagovornik.net/upl oads/media/zagovornik_LP_2010_2.pdf

(20. 06. 2012)
.

All about t
he Equal Opportunity Advocate:
http://www.zagovornik.net/si/informacije/letna
-
porocila/lp
-
2010/index.html

(20.06.2012).

7

Orig.: Zakona o izenače
vanju možnosti invalidov (ZIMI)
http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid=201094&stevilka=4936

(06. 06. 2012).

8

Boštjan Vernik Šetinc, Office for E
qual Opportunities. Equal Opportunities Advocate. Report for the
year 2010, accepted by the government in July 2011.
http://www.zagovornik.net/upl oads/media/zagovornik_LP_2010_
2.pdf

(20. 06. 2012).


5

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

I.

In the
2010
Annual
Report of the
Advocate

there is a description of an instance
where a company with 82 employees asked applicants for a legal position to
complete their

application in handwriting.

The

management of the company
claimed
that the
handwriting
would
be used for

graphology
,

to measure certain skills and
abilities and choose between the candidates
. The
Advocate
issued an opinion
stating

that
this was

a
n
unneces
sary

discriminatory condition
(indirect discrimination)
affecting
some people with
impairments.
9



II.

In 2011
the Advocate reported

a case
relating to the M
ayor insurance company
,
which

refused to
provid
e
a
service (personal
accident insurance
)

to pe
rsons

with
mental disabilities and cert
a
in diseases.

His opinion
was
that
such rigid rules amount
to
direct discrimination
and
can not be
justified (as there are no modalities)
even
suggesting that

this is a general practice in Slovenia
.
10


III.

Until very recen
tly
the
building where the Advocate
has
operated
(the Advocate is
actually only a post within the Office for Equal Opportunities)
was not accessible for
people
using

wheelchairs

(
due to
stairs)
.

This
happened despite a strong
intervention
from the HR Ombud
sman in 2008
(
a
case of indirect
discrimination against

pe
rsons
with disabilit
ies and direct discrimination against people

with physical impairments).
In
the
2010 Annual report
of
the Advocate
the case was
made public

without any
consequences.
In
2012

the
government
merged
the
Office for Equal Opportunities
(and therefore also

the Advocate
)

into
the Ministry for Labour, Family and Social
Affair
s. T
he
A
dvocate was consequently moved into
an
accessible building
, but
it
was neverth
eless located o
n the 7
th

floo
r
, the only floor

in the building which was not
accessible with elevators
.
T
he building can be reached
easily
only by using
a
back
entrance by the storage and trash area or by using two sets of “snail speed” stair
lifts
.
In autu
mn 2012 the advocate managed

to

finally

be

tran
sferred into the ground floor.


IV.

In
2007 the
O
mbudsman
had already
report
ed that

physical barriers (lack of an

elevator) are indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of disability as they prevent
physically impaired persons

from gaini
ng

access to the balcony of the
P
arliament
,

where
the
general public is permitted to attend its sessions (
due to
stairs)
.
11


ICT accessibility





9

Yearly Report of the Equal Opportunity Advocate for the year

2010, pp. 158
-
162.
http://www.zagovornik.net/upl oads/media/zagovornik_LP_2010_2.pdf

(18.
06.2012).

10

Advocate
'
s web page:
http://www.zagovornik.net/si/informacije/informacije
-
j avnega
-
znacaja/praksa/index.html

(20.11.2012).

11

Ombudsman's Ann
ual Report 2007,
C
ase
N
o. 8, p
.

47
.

http://www.varuh
-
rs.si/publikacije
-
gradi va
-
izjave/letna
-
porocila/

(20.11.2012).


6

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Article 17 of the
EOPDA

envisages a right of people with sensory

(and other)
disabilities to some communication a
ids that are not included in other Acts

(i.e. if they
are not
entitled

to them because they did not
have

their disability insurance;
additional reasons
)
. The sort of aids and their standards
are not set in
the
EOPDA,
but

they

should be

set in supplementary

administrative regulation
s.

However
, despite

the expiry of the final
deadlines

(see also the problem of the regulation regarding the
accessibility and accommodation standards
for goods and services, and for
accommodation of personal
vehicles above
)
, these

were not

accepted
at
the time of
writing this report. At the time of writing this report
the responsible ministry is

one
year late
and in the meantime sensory
(and other)
disabled people
’s

rights

under
this
prov
ision (and the provision
for paid

accessibil
ity through a

per
sonal vehicle) remain
not implemented
and
practically
void
.


Article 23 of the
EOPDA

put in place

conditions for the establishment of
a

Call Centre

for Persons with Hearing Disabilities. It enables them

to have

access to
some crucial
publi
c services
(
governmental
, municipality and othe
r

public services
)

such as police,
ambulance,
fire
brigades, video

calls and computers.


An
Action Programme for Persons with Disabilities (2007
-

2013)
12

includes in
O
bjective 3 some provisions on web
and ICT

accessibility. Measures

defined in the
document are:




ensuring equal access to

Internet information

and

public administration services
for all;



preparing a manual for public procurement with recommendations for better
accessibility
to the
Internet and imp
lementation of EU Regulation No.
1083/2006 on partnership, non
-
discrimination and accessibility of structural
funds;



encouraging the use of information and communication technology for better
inclusion and communication of persons with disabilities and fun
ctionally
impaired persons as regards accessibility of e
-
government, including the use of
i
nternet, software and hardware.


In 2008 t
he
Ministry f
or Public Administration
adapted the whole
central
State Portal
of the Republic of Slovenia, an e
-
administrati
on portal with procedures and forms
important to citizens when dea
ling with public

administration. In doing this,

W3C
WCAG 2.0 EU

guidelines
were used
, after the study by EPAN and

the

UK.
The
Portal now corresponds to the standard W3C WAI level A and inclu
des
the
feature

of

»speaker«, that reads out loud some of the content of the site.
The quality of
accessibility of particular websites of individual institutions r
emains however a
different matter
. The
A
dvocate
,

for example
,

has been

informed about a
case
concerning inaccessibility of crucial information of the central state voting
commission

(personal notes).





12

Action plan for persons with disabilities 2007


2013.
http://www.mddsz.gov.si/en/legislation

(20.06.
2011).



7

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Examples of cases

heard


In 2005
the
Ombudsman
reported a

case that

still
seems to
be
relevant.
According to
specific legislation subscription to t
he national radio and television broadcaster RTV
Slovenia (several TV and radio programmes)
is in principle obligatory
and subject

to
a special tax. However,

the legislation provides that

it is cost
free only for people with
physical

impairments and

not

fo
r those with mental impairments. The ombudsman
has
indicated direct discrimination of the latter on the grounds of the form of their
disability.
13


I
n the same
R
eport, another very similar
case is reported
,

relating to

access to
education
.
At the time of th
e

report, most children with mental impairme
nts (even
mild

ones) would not be eligible for the status of a pupil with special needs, and thus
not be admitted into the accommodated education programmes with special
additional assistance
.
14



In 2006
the
Ombu
dsman indicated the problem of pe
rsons
who
were

blind, but could
not use Braille in legal proceedings before courts, especially
not
be
ing

able to receive
(read) writings

a
s this was not regulated and judges

would not be willing to
accommodate them
.
In 2007

the O
mbudsman established this situation (
a
legal
lacuna in the procedural law) amounted to indirect discrimination on the grounds of
disability but also claimed direct discrimination on the grounds of the form of disability
(a form of sensory impairment
-

as he compared the situation of people who are deaf
and their right to use sign language, with the right to access informat
ion in writing for
blind people



i.e. Braille). The intervention before the court in the actual proceedings
was not successful, no
r was the intervention to amend the
legislation.
The person
affected was provided
with
expertise to submit a request for a constitutional review
.
15

Meanwhile
, the

UNCRPD was ratified, so
it was suggested that
the applicant
evoke

it. In 2009 the Constitution
al
C
ourt confirmed this is a case of indirect discrimination
and also applied
the
UNCRPD
.
16



In 2007

the Ombudsman intervened
in relation to

public television

due to serious
shortcomings concerning

the

electoral campaign for the President of the Republic.
Even though there was a long tradition of sign language used in these importa
nt live
televised discussions,
the public

TV
companies
interrupted this good practice and
decided to provide only a poor quality and delayed teletext (subtitles)

service

instead.
The reasons were
supposedly to reduce expenses and not to disturb the

ordinary
audience. The general A
ct
that provides

the right to sign language interpretation was
very
unclear

on this issue
. I
t provides a right to be informed by

accommodated
techniques,
“in line with the regulations”. Again, these regulations were never



13
Ombudsman's Annual Report 2005
, C
ase
N
o. 111, p.

211

http://www.var
uh
-
rs.si/publikacije
-
gradi va
-
izjave/letna
-
porocila/

(20.11.2012).

14

Ombudsman's Annual Report 2005,Case No. 119, p. 215
http://www.varuh
-
rs.si/publikacije
-
gradi va
-
izjave/letn
a
-
porocila/

(20.11.2012).

15

Ombudsman's Annual Report 2007
,

Case
N
o. 10, p. 48
-
49
.

16

Ombudsman's Annual Report 2008, p. 55.


8

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

adopted or
specified
. The Ombudsman nevertheless stated that this amoun
ts to
indirect discrimination against

people with disabilities.
The case was heavily debated
w
ith public TV for sever
al years and some unsatisfactory

attempts to accommodate
this were made (i.e.

a rerun of the
debate the

following

next day with sign language,
but at very unfavourable times
)
. I
n late
2008

sign language was included again
.
17



In
2007 another case concernin
g

communication aids was reported by the
Ombudsman. Blind people who had

already received a Braille typing machine were
refused
a

Braille “line” (computer read/write adjustment) by the public
Institute for
Health Insurance
. A
person applying for these aids

for the first time could in principle
choose between the two. The ombudsman stated that the relevant regulation was
interpreted in a discriminatory manner
,

which would affect older people within this
group (indirect discrimination on the grounds of age)
.
18



Summary of research


R
esearch from 2008 with the title “Measures for the implementation of the rights of
persons with disabilities for
barrier
-
free access”
provides

some empirical data on the
barriers in

the

buil
t

e
nvironment and in communication

experi
enced by persons with
disabilities and disability organisati
ons.
19

The data collection was done during 2008
when the researchers sen
t

out 800 questionnaires and selected 10 traditional
disability organisations. The researchers faced a poor response which wa
s 22
.
6%
(181 returned questionnaires by individual persons)

and 35
.
3% among disability
organisations (36 returned questionnaires).

The respondents were men (53
.
5%) and
women (46
.
5%)
and an
average 50 years of age. The majority had secondary school
or vocat
ional school
education;

67% were retired and only 15%

were

employed.

The
majority were physically
impaired

and about 17%

were

visually impaired and 18%
hearing impaired.

In regard to the built

environment
,

30% of respondents
experience
d

large and very larg
e

barriers when accessing city bus
es
; 40%
experienced large and very large

barriers when accessing local buses; 34%
experienced
large and very large
barriers when accessing trains (2008: 80)
.
20

30 %
of respondents
experience
d

communication ba
rriers on city
buses, 37% on
local
b
uses, and 31% on trains (ibid.)
. More than
25% of the respondents said that despite
assisted technical devices
,

the barriers in the buil
t

and communication environment
p
revent
ed

them
from leading a more active life.

33% of
individual r
espondents

also



17

Ombudsman's Annual Report 2008, Case No. 14, p. 62.

18

Ombudsman's Annual Report 2008, Case no. 12, p. 50.

19

R. Sendi, B. Černič
Mali, B. K. Kebler, B. Tominc, S. Mijukič, B. Kobal, S. Smolej and M. Nagode,
(2008). Ukrepi za uresničevanje pravic invalidov do dostopa brez ovir, končno poročilo (Measures for
the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities for
barrier
-
fre
e access,
F
inal report).
Ljubljana: Urban
P
lanning
I
nstitut
e of the Republic of Slovenia.
http://dostopnost.uirs.si/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=HH9BUlzQPGc%3D&tabid=65

(20. 06. 2012).

20

In regard to communication, environmental

barriers

included:
no voice
-
warnings; lack of signs and
visual images; problems with getting up
-
dated time schedules for trains; too small written information
;

too high STOP buttons in busses; n
o voice or accessible signs for

platforms in train stations;
difficulties while buying bus and train tickets; no sign
-
language translators; difficulties with calling a
taxi; etc.


9

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

experienced
many built

and communication barriers in education.

Among the
disability organisations
53
%
of
respondents experienced

large and very large

barriers

in accessing local buses
a
nd
55
%
large and very large

difficulties
when

accessin
g
trains

because of buil
t

barriers. With regard to

communication
barriers
,

48
% of
respondents
stated

that they face
d

large and very large

communication barriers on
local buses,
and 51
% experience
d large and very large

communication barriers on
the trains (
2008: 124).
This research confirms the undocumented stories of people
with disabilities about the very large

barriers
they face
when

accessing transportation
and the wide gap between the legi
slation and everyday practice.


2

Accessibility Standards


Acc
ordi
ng

to the Advocate, acc
essibility standards
a
s well as the
access to legal
remedies and their effectiveness (t
h
rough the non
-
discrimination legislation)

are
poorly implemented
.
21


Transport accessibility


Transport accessibility is one of the biggest areas
of discrimination for people with
disabilities. It is one of the areas with the biggest disparity between the formal right
and the actual implementation of the right. Article 16 of the Equalisation of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act (2010)
gives provisions about

the

accessibility of
the
public transport service. It states that people with disabilities
should have equal access in road, rail and sea

travel
. According to the Act it is an
obligation of state, municipalities and public transport
providers to make every
form
of
public transport line accessible. Accessibility provision
s, including architectural and
information accessibility,

should
be
account
able to

people with reduced mobility and
sensor
y impairments
. Only when adjustment
s

to regul
a
te the

line would mean a
disproportional burden to
the
provider, special transport for a person with disabilities
can and must be organi
s
ed, but at no additional cost to the person with
the
disability.
The
Act envisages
a
maximum
10 to 15 year transition
period

(10 for

bus
s
es
, 5 for
school bu
s
ses

and 15 for
train
s
)
,

which
means that transport accessibility for people
with disabilities is planned to become
a
fully effective

right

(not subject to the
reasonable accommodation test of proportionality)

in 2025.



a.)

Railway transportation


In
2008
the
Annual
Report of the Ombudsman
(published in

2009)
mentioned the
violation of human rights and fundamental freedom
s of people with disabilities due to

the

poorly accessible railway system
s

in Slovenia (2009: 63)
.
22

At

the main railway
station in the capital of Ljubljana there is a single lift available for people with
a



21

Unfulfilled obligations of the state in regard of the protection aga
inst discrimination. [Neizpolnjene
obveznosti države pri varstvu pred diskriminacijo]
http://www.zagovornik.net/si/informacije/letna
-
poroci
la/druga
-
porocila
-
studij e
-
zagovornika/index.html

(19.06.2012)
.

22

Letno poročilo Varuha človekovih pravic Republike Slovenije
,
za leto 2008.

http://www.varuh
-
rs.si/file
admin/user_upload/pdf/lp/Varuh_LP
-
2008.pdf

(18. 06. 2012).


10

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

physical impairment
,

which cannot be used freely by the person with disabilities
.
It is
operated by a

porter who needs to be called from

his office fir
st to enter the lift with a
key.
Within
the lift the lift
buttons are placed too high
for wheelchair users

to operate

the
lift independently
.
The Ombudsman
’s

office sent a request to chang
e the lift
controls

to the management of the Slovenian Railway Compa
ny in 2008
,

and
they
replied

that they will
only change it
in 2013
, which is in violation of
Article 9 of the UN
CRPD.


b.)

Bus transportation


See also above. Apart from the request for accessibility of buses for regular inter
-
city
line connections
,

there i
s a special obligation in case
s where

this c
an not be
provided. In this instance

the provider has to ensure other me
ans of transport for
people with disabilities (i.e. a van
)
.

M
ost people
with disabilities
depend mostly on

transport

that

is provided by tra
ditional disability organisations (
invalidske
organizacije
)
. Each of them (Association for muscular dystrophy, Associations of
paraplegics, Associations for cerebral palsy, etc.) have their own transport service for

their members

. The disadvantage is

tha
t they are not available to everybody who
needs adapted transportation

and that those people
who are not formal
ly

members of
a particular
disability
organ
isation, are not eligible for

any transport provided by
disability
organisation
s
. These organisations
are concentrated in few larger cities and
are
mostly
not available in rural areas.


c.)

Private car transportation


Persons with disabilities
are in principle encouraged to own their own vehicles (
i.e. by
tax exemptions)
whether

they can drive or not
. Furthe
rmore
,

in certain cases
(children) other people (parents) can own the car in their benefit.
Following legislative
amendments, p
ersons with disabilities
who own a car are not allowed to register the
car under their names if they have no driving licence

(abi
lity to drive)
. The
consequence is that they have to find a third person with a driving licence to register
the car on their name and consequently also carry a risk about

any inconveniences
that might
happen
to the car including
potential accidents

and res
ponsibility

in the
case of

administrat
ive offences (speeding, parking etc.
)
. Therefore, many people
with

disabilities who own cars
cannot

find a
third
person
willing to

take
the
risk
to register
the car on his/her name and can
therefore

consequently
not us
e the car (which could
be operated by the assistant or any third persons).
23

This
sometimes
means
that
even if the person with disabilities has his or her own car, she/he
cannot

use it.
The
situation is indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of disability

as there is no such
request in the case of legal persons
and private entrepreneurs (who

are in an
analogous situation).
The ministry responsible is preparing amendments to the
legislation in question.


The right
to

assistive equipment as a condition for a
ccessibility




23

E
-
mail communication with Equal Opportunity Advocate in June 2012.


11

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

The only right in terms of assistive equipment for people with disabilities is the right
to

technical aids covered by health insurance (the exception is the accommodated
workplace
, where disability insurance and rehabilitation act is also rel
evant
).

24

This is
mainly an individual right, with the exception of when a person is living in an
institution


in that case the institution must provide the required technical aids.
There
is a list of technical aids covered by the Institute for Health Ins
urance.
25

The list
includes information about the type o
f

technical aid;

details on
who prescribes it;
the
duration of the use of the aid; the health condition of the person entitled to th
is right;
and the price limit for the

set standard of the technical a
id (when the person needs to
contribute

to

or buy the device). Technical aids are divided in
to

prosthetic technical
aids, aesthetic prosthetic technical aids, orthopaedic shoes, wheelchairs and walking
technical aids, devices for electrical stimulation and

breathing assistance devices

and

sanitary aids. The duration of the aid depends in some cases on th
e age of the
person and

in other cases on the activity of the person


an employed person, pupil
and student can more often receive technical aids compared
with a person receiving
a pension or a person who cannot work and has disability status under the Social
Care of Mentally and Physically Disabled Persons.
26

The procedures for

get
ting

a
technical aid are lengthy and usually take about 6 months for a person
to get the
needed technical aid. The right to technical aid
s

is limited by a set Health Insurance
standard, which sets the standard/prices of technical aid
s

very low. Disabled people
are often required to pay the difference between the health insurance sta
ndard and
the price of the needed technical aid. The only choice they have is or to take a
“standard” technical aid which does not suit them or to raise the funds to cover the
difference. Most applicants look for donors (companies, private enterprises) to
cover
these expenses. Since 2009 many schools, kindergartens and other institutions
have
been
collect
ing

bottle tops to fundraise for certain individuals who are not able to pay
their own needed technical device (special leg prosthesis; electric wheelchair
s, lifts,
etc.). Some companies who supply medical aids offer applicants the option of
payment by monthly instalments. Also, some disability organi
s
ations offer social help
to cover part of the cost of needed medical equipment


especially equipment which
is not on the list of
the
health insurance institute. There are no figures about the
number of persons who use assistive equipments in Slovenia.


Other
examples


The Advocate of the Principle of Equality
,

Boštjan Vernik Šetinc provided some new
examples o
f unequal access practices which pe
ople reported recently and that

he
currently
deals with
.
27





24

Health Insurance Institute of the Republic of Slovenia [Zavod za zdravstveno zavarovanje RS]
http://www.zzzs.si/zzzs/internet/zzzseng.nsf/o/A1BAF9E80E5B4A00C1256E890049616E

(16. 06.
2012).

25

Health Insurance Institute of the Republic of Slovenia [Zavod za zdravstveno zavarovanje RS]

http://www.zzzs.si/zzzs/info/egradiva.nsf/o/DFDC914987E44E2AC1257353003EC73A

(16.06.2012).

26

Zakon o družbenem varstvu duševno in telesnih priza
detih oseb

ZDVDTP
.

27

E
-
mail communication with Equal Opportunity Advocate in June 2012.


12

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)



A

request from people with visual impairments
accompanied by

a

guide

dog
and who were
denied access to

high quality rooms

and

to swimming pools

in
a
prominent tou
rist

spa
destination;
a similar case of non
-
admittance

in the
restaurant had been

reported already by the Ombudsman in 2007 and th
e
Advocate in 2008 respectively.
The latter reports that the

shop inspection even
led to

an administrative fine upon the restau
rant owner.


-

The Advocate
has recently reported

that the Health Insurance Institute
is not in
favour of promoting the use of guide

by the CSOs as
their training is

supposedly
too costly.



Deaf
-
blind persons

have reported that despite the
Equalisation of Op
portunities
for Persons with Disabilities Act
,
28

which gives
a

formal right that people can
have access
to

documentation in any formal procedures
,

they
nevertheless
face
obstacles to access
ing

this communication. Dea
f
-
blind persons who cannot
help
themselve
s
through

Slovenian
sign language
(regulated by specific law)
have
no right to get a
interpreter
or
effective
assistance
that

would help them to read

official documents

as this is in no way regulated (
there are
no stan
dards, no
official interpreters, etc.
)
.


O
lder example
s




A person with visual impairments who w
orked as a school teacher in a

school
for blind children sent a request to the Advocate because as a school teacher
he
was given a
n
inadequate computer
,
too old to be abl
e to install the Braille
scr
ipt.

A
lso other reasonable accommodation requests were not met, he was
left out
in ca
r
r
y
ing out equal and full obligations in comparison to other teachers
and
he la
ter lost his job
.

There has

actually

been

a final judicial decision in this
case
, declaring
this to be

discrimination

and awarding 3
,
000 euro
compensation
.
29





A
well

known person with visual impairments
,

Evgen Bavčar
30

(
an
internationally known photograph
er

and writer who lives in Paris)
, requested a

decision from the Constitutional Court of the R
epublic of Slovenia in 20
07 after
he had not succeeded in

get
ting

formal documents from the court in Braille
script


a right that is ensured by the Constitution
of the Republic of Slovenia
-

instead in ordinary writing.
The abstract of the decision of the

Constitutional
Court (
Case number.: U
-
I
-
146/07) says:



From the principle of non
-
discrimination (as a fundamental element of the
principle of equality) determined in the first paragraph of Article 14 of the



28

Orig.:
Zakona o izenačevanju možnosti invalidov (ZIMI
)
,
http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid
=201094&stevilka=4936

(06. 06. 2012).

29

E
-
mail communication with Equal Opportunity Advocate in June 2012.

30
Evgen Bavčar: V tujini priznanja, doma pa sodišča [Evgen Bavčar: Awards abroad, at home the
court] , 04. 10. 2010.
http://tinomamic.blogspot.com/2010/10/evgen
-
bavcar
-
v
-
tuji ni
-
priznanja
-
doma
-
pa.html

(20. 06. 2012).


13

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Constitution there does not follow only the re
quirement of formal equal
treatment, but also of de facto equal treatment. Therefore, not only direct but
also indirect discrimination is constitutionally inadmissible. Indirect
discrimination exists if individuals or social groups are indeed formally ensu
red
equal rights or an equal scope of
rights;

however, the individuals who are
thereby actually in a less favourable position are deprived with reference to
exercising their rights or fulfilling obligations. In order to ensure the equal
treatment of such (
due to a particular personal circumstance, as determined in
the first paragraph of Article 14 of the Constitution) disadvantaged social groups
or individuals, the requirement that discrimination is prohibited can in certain
instances also entail the requir
ement that necessary and appropriate
accommodations
to
be made to prevent the occurrence of these groups or
individuals having such
a
disadvantaged position. Positive measures adopted
for this purpose do not entail an interference with the principle of equ
ality but
are intended for its implementation. Therefore, an omission or denial of the
necessary and appropriate accommodations in such instance thus entails an
interference with the right to equal, i.e. non
-
discriminatory, treatment as
determined in the f
irst paragraph of Article 14 of the Constitution, which is
constitutionally admissible only if it passes the strict test of proportionality.

Notwithstanding the fact that they are an objectively disadvantaged social
group, the existing civil procedure regu
lation does not ensure blind and partially
sighted persons the necessary and appropriate accommodations which would
enable them to exercise their right to fair treatment in proceedings (Article 22 of
the Constitution) on equal terms. Such omission of the l
egislature entails a
constitutionally inadmissible interference with their right to non
-
discriminatory
treatment (the first paragraph of Article 14 of the Constitution). The legislature
namely did not demonstrate that any constitutionally admissible reason

existed
for denying necessary and appropriate accommodation
.

31



The case shows very clearly that even the case could be solved by the reasonable
accommodation concept, the problem is in fact a systemic one (indirect
discrimination) and has to be tackled
accordingly. It is also certainly one of the first
cases of direct application
of the

UNCRPD. The case is described in more detail in a
cited article.
32


3

Accessibility in Regulatory Bodies and Systems


There are n
o specific licensed bodies that

would enhanc
e accessibility. There is no
evaluation in this area.





31

Republic of Slovenia, Constitutional Court.
http://odlocitve.us
-
rs.si/usrs/us
-
odl.nsf/o/A17702BF34003C9DC125754400297E47

20.06.2012).

32

Bostjan Vernik Setinc,
The right to use Braille in legal proceedings,
European Ombudsman
Newsletter

No. 12,

April 2009, p. 71
-
72.


14

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

The
National Broadcasting Company
33

(Radio televizija Slovenija
-

RTVS)
reports to

the

constitution of
the
Programme Board for disability issues in radio and TV
programmes. It has 9 members and it is p
art of
the

Programme Board.
Its

task is to
give
opinions

on

and
set out proposals on

any programme documents

from
RTVS
,
from the perspective of disability issues.

It has managed to ac
hieve that Radio and
Television will

emphasise disability issues in their

annual reports

and
state
what they
have done in this area.


4

Accessibility Strategies or Action Plans


Transport accessibility:


The
Action Programme for Persons with Disabilities
34

(2007
-

2013) in
O
bjective 3
includes some provisions on transport accessi
bility. Unfortunately, these are not
concrete provisions and are without
a
timeframe.
Measures

include adaptation of all
means of tran
sport for people with physical

and sensory impairments, accessibility of
city and intercity transport, accessibility of st
ations and commitment to EU directives
No. 2001/85, Directive No. 96/48, Regulation COM 2004/143, EU document COM
617/1999, Regulation (ES) No. 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and Council
from 5 July 2006.


In practice, m
any people with disabilities r
emain depend
e
nt
on traditional
disability
organisations


transport (
Association for muscular dystrophy, Associations of
paraplegics, Associations for cerebral palsy, etc.)
. Those people who are not the
formal members of the organisations have no right to g
et any transport provided by
invalid organisation
s
.
These organisations are concentrated in few larger cities and
are not ava
ilable in rural areas.


ICT and web accessibility


The
Action Programme for Persons with Disabilities (2007
-

2013) includes
in
O
bjective

3 some provisions on web and ICT accessibility.
Measures

defined in the
document are:




ensuring equal access to information and public administration services on
the
Internet for all;



preparing a manual for public procurement with recommendations

for better
accessibility on Internet and implementation of EU Regulation No. 1083/2006
on partnership, non
-
discrimination and accessibility of structural funds;



encouraging the use of information and communication technology for better
inclusion and commu
nication of persons with disabilities and functiona
lly



33

http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid=200596&stevilka=4191

(
accessed 6. 6. 2012
)
.

34

http://www.mddsz.gov.si/fileadmin/mddsz.gov.si/pageupl oads/dokumenti__pdf/api _07_13_en.pdf

(06. 06. 2012)
.


15

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

impaired persons as regards

accessibility of e
-
government, including the use of
the
internet, software and hardware.


Unnecessary obstacles:


T
he Equal Rights Advocate is not allowed to use widely ava
ilable software
(
S
kype)
to
help him communicate with
persons with disabilities from his office,
as they do not

allow it anywhere in public administration.

He was also not provided
with
accessible
premises until v
ery recently, and was not wired

with

an

indu
ction loop.
35


Techni
cal

Equipments


Despite the formal right to goods and services provided

by the Equalisation of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act
,
36

there are no

regulations about rights
to technical equipment

or
concrete regulations

and

w
h
at kind of technical devices

the
person

can

get according to this law. T
he Equal Opportunity Advocate has been
requesting that

the Min
istry of
Labour, Family and Social Affairs

make these
regulations

since 2011
.


5

European and International Dimensions


Th
e European and international dimension
s

are very

important in cases of tourist

facilities used by foreign guests in Slovenia and the use of the transport.


Conclusion


There
is no research

on the effects of the legislation and on the implementation of
t
he

established

legislation

with regard to

accessibility
.


The inspection proceedings


The alternative to equality bodies,
a
more for
mal “specialised” remedy

against
discrimination introduced by the
IPETA
,

is an inspection proceeding. It

is an
administrative

process and can end up as a

legally binding decision (i.e. to stop the
discrimination, to introduce measures for protection against discrimination, to impose
a fine

etc
.).

If e the Advocate does

not succe
ed with

his non
-
binding opinion a
nd
guidance, the c
ase may be re
fe
r
red to the competent

inspectorate.

Everybod
y may

report a case

to the inspectorate, but may
not automatically have a standi
ng in these
proceedings. One may

request a
standing, but such a claim is not always

successful.
Without a standing, o
ne cann
ot challenge the results of the

proceedings. This is an
ex officio proce
eding aimed at the protection of

the public int
erest;

therefore in
principle only the subject of the inspection (the alleged offender) has a
standing in
these proceedings.




35

Letno poročilo zagovornika za 2010, dostopno na:
http://www.zagovornik.net/si/informacije/letna
-
porocila/lp
-
2010/index.html

(accessed 6. 6. 2012).

36

Orig.:
Zakona o izenačevanju možnosti invalidov (ZIMI
)
,
http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid=201094&stevilka=4936

(06. 06. 2012).


16

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)



If

a violation

occur
s in the workplace,

the
case should

be reported to the Labour law
Inspectorate. I
f it happens in the area of goods and services
,

the case
should be
reported
to the Market Inspectorate
, school inspection, social inspection, media
inspectio
n,
administrative

inspection

and

a

few more

bodies
.
T
here are a number of
different inspections (
i.e.

overlaps
) and

the decision to choose between them can be
quite complicated
.




A s
hared burden of proof applies in these proceedings. If one can show suff
icient
evidence for

a reasonable suspicion that

discrimination exists (was committed or
could take place), the burden of proving it otherwise is on the alleged offender.



In an ideal case,

inspections would be bound to secure accessibility of various good
s
and services
ex officio
. However
, in

practice non

discrimination is by no means a
priority issue and is very seldom (if at all) enforced or promoted by inspections.



17

Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Literature


Action Programme for People with Disabilities 2007

2013
,
http://www.mddsz.gov.si/fi leadmin/mddsz.gov.si/pageuploads/dokumenti__pdf/api_0
7_13.pdf

(20 June 2012
).


Office for Equal Opportunities. Equal Opportunities Advocate.
Report for the year
2010, accepted by the government in July 2011.
http://www.zagovornik.net/uploads/media/zagovornik_LP_2010_2.pdf

(20 June
2012).


Letno poročilo zagovornika za 2010, dostopno na:
http://www.zagovornik.net/si/informacije/letna
-
porocila/lp
-
2010/index.html

(accessed
6 June
2012).


Equalisation of

Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act

[
Zakona o
izenačevanju možnosti invalidov (ZIMI
)]
http://www.uradni
-
list.si/1/objava.jsp?urlid=201094&stevi lka=4936

(06 June

2012)
.


Evgen Bavčar: V tujini priznanja, doma pa sodišča [Evgen Bavčar: Awards abroa
d, at
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