How am I connected to society

People with disabilities

Elisabeth Wacker

To person

is Professor of Diversity Sociology at the Technical University of Munich and Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich. [email protected]

Increasing attention is rightly paid to the topic of "impairment and disability in society". In Germany, for example, the new reporting on participation, the developing participation legislation and numerous inclusion action plans at the federal, state and local levels indicate that disability issues are being dealt with more and more. These developments are no longer referred to as dealing with the group of "disabled people", but operate under participation or inclusion programs. A rethinking is emerging here.

In the federal government's participation reports, attention continues to be given to the group of people with officially recognized (severe) disabilities, but also to other people with chronic complaints and impairments whose chances of participating in community life are limited and who are therefore disadvantaged. According to these standards, around 25 percent of the adult resident population in Germany live with at least one impairment. [1]

The fact that attention is increasingly being paid to whether and to what extent these people have equal opportunities in their way of life and whether they are disadvantaged in terms of access to resources or participation in society is initially only conceptual. In public discourse, on the other hand, the term "disability" is often easily connected with the expectation of (general) inability, recorded through diagnoses, role clich├ęs and treatment methods or accommodation. [2] Scientific studies also continue to show this phenomenon. In traditional (special) special needs education and rehabilitation in particular, deficit-oriented and problem-centered questions are often formulated and corresponding findings are generated that seek solutions to problems primarily in people who are named as disabled.

In view of these discrepancies, the first question that arises is to what extent a change of direction and connection to the debates on inequality research would make sense. With corresponding questions related to the situation in life, it could succeed, less the supposed inability than the chances of realization all To discover people in terms of participation and self-determination and thus gain standards for how disabilities arise in people or groups of people. At the same time, exclusion risks and developments apart from the now usual general promises of inclusion would become visible.

Entitlement to participation, risks of exclusion, opportunities for inclusion

With a view to the discovery of entitlements to participation, the group of impaired people, which is growing mainly due to demographic change, is sufficient cause and call for attention. The social law access to disability and disadvantage in Germany has changed accordingly: Book IX of the Social Code, which followed the Federal Social Welfare Act in 2001, is programmatically entitled "Rehabilitation and Participation of Disabled People"; It explicitly names goals such as participation in social life and self-determination for disabled people. A farewell to remembrance of welfare in favor of growing attention to equal opportunities and a self-determined lifestyle can be seen in the Disability Equality Act of 2002, the General Equal Treatment Act of 2006 and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), which came into force in Germany in 2009. detect. Equal rights and fair opportunities should be guaranteed and enforceable.

The necessary attention to explicit and implicit disadvantages can, however, still be expanded. For this reason, more in-depth political discourses as well as scientific studies that are oriented towards design and effects are necessary in order to consolidate a new understanding of impairments and disabilities in civil society as well as in the professional world.

One problem arises from unclear definitions and assessment bases for "disability". In connection with the inadequate reflection of this fact, there is often an unsuitable social data situation. The first two participation reports of the Federal Government testify to this. [3] Under the condition of a new view of disability, they reveal themselves explicitly as gap reports and at the same time reflect the new requirements resulting from the UN CRPD: On the one hand there are indicators for measurement the participation of people with disabilities or disabilities is necessary in order to comply with the mandate set out in Article 31 of the UN CRPD to obtain statistical and empirical data on the living situation with a disability; On the other hand, it is important to develop and implement political concepts for the implementation of the UN CRPD that can also withstand scientific criteria and tests.

At the same time, in terms of social policy, it is about the reform of assistance and benefit entitlements in favor of a participation-oriented control policy as well as a dynamic increase in costs in integration assistance. Under these circumstances, institutional dependencies should be reduced and the individual's ability to act should be increased. [4] For this purpose, established principles such as "outpatient before inpatient" are repealed and basic rules such as the principle of benefits in kind are shaken. [5]

These developments are flanked by the increasing number of positive discourses on diversity, also in Germany and Europe. Heterogeneity appears less as a disruption of a desirable state of homogeneity in a society, but increasingly as a social necessity and resource. In this way, the entitlements to participation, which are often expressed in groups with diversity characteristics, but which are often little perceived in context, gain additional legitimation. [6]

With a view to identifying risks of exclusion and opportunities for inclusion, it should first be noted that certain social groups are still particularly affected by social inequality: Characteristic factors that significantly reduce or increase the risk of social exclusion are, above all, income, employment status and scope, Educational qualification, professional qualifications, social origin, family situation, state of health, migration background, gender and age. [7] According to calculations in the Federal Participation Report, almost a quarter of the people with severe health impairments participate largely unhindered in social life. At the same time, however, almost as many people report massive restrictions on participation due to their impairment. Most of them have a low level of education and often no professional qualification. [8] It is also noticeable that precisely this particularly vulnerable group of people has often not applied for recognition as "disabled" or "severely disabled" despite chronic illnesses. They are therefore also not achieved by the existing funding measures and are not statistically recorded. Solutions for effective services when support is required must therefore obviously be sought more precisely, and outsourcing and integration in special locations, for example through inpatient accommodation, appears questionable from the point of view of equity. [9]

Possible touchstones for the risks of exclusion and opportunities for inclusion are, therefore, integration into the social space or access and retention in working life. [10] But there is also the general question of recognition as equals and equals in the case of existing differences and the possible consequences. [11]