40% rise in disability discrimination complaints


The federal anti-discrimination agency has reported a huge rise in complaints relating to disability discrimination, in services, work and education, saying that the country is ‘miles away from an inclusive society’

500 cases opened

The number of complaints about discrimination of people with a disability has shot up by 40% compared to last year, according to the federal anti-discrimination agency, Unia. More than 500 cases have already been opened this year.

The areas about which people complain the most are goods and services, work and education. “Reasonable adjustments like tools, an assistant or an adapted schedule are still refused far too often,” Unia director Els Keytsman told De Standaard. “For people with a disability in this country, a lot depends on who they cross on their path; they rely on luck.”

Such reasonable adjustments are often necessary because services, goods, schools, companies and public spaces are not completely accessible to everyone. “We are still miles away from an inclusive society,” Keytsman said. “Policy is not ambitious enough, at all levels.”

According to Unia, for example, only 3.5% of the transit stops operated by Flemish public transport authority De Lijn are completely accessible. Keytsman believes the situation is not much better on the railways, because of the difference in platform heights.

On Friday, Unia launched a campaign for and by people with a disability, and next week sees the 10th anniversary of the UN convention on the rights of people with a disability.

Photo courtesy Unia