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Latvia: latest news on the work of the Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Latvia on the rights of persons with disabilities

January 23rd 2017

The Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Latvia is one of 46 Equinet members. Their mandate covers grounds of discrimination such as gender, race and ethnic origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and religion and belief.

Article written by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Latvia

Research on Accessibility of higher education institutions for people with disabilities

The Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Latvia in cooperation with people with disabilities and their friends association “Apeirons” monitored higher education institutions in Latvia and conducted a survey of people with disabilities who have/have not studied in order to evaluate the accessibility of higher education for persons with disabilities.

There were 58 public and private higher education institutions in Latvia in year 2016. During the monitoring 164 buildings were evaluated, from which 81 were higher education institutions, 42 were libraries and 40 were students ‘dormitories. Monitoring occurred from June 2016 till September of 2016.

The results of monitoring showed that representatives of higher education institutions have better understanding of:

  1. Physical accessibility requirements for persons with movement disorders rather than for persons with vision or hearing disorders;
  2. Physical accessibility of the buildings, rather than information accessibility;

Additionally it was possible to conclude that physical accessibility is more ensured in the higher education institution buildings were lectures take place, less in libraries, however only a few dormitories were accessible for persons with disabilities.

Therefore the Ombudsman in cooperation with “Apeirons” prepared practical recommendations for higher education institutions, among others, on physical accessibility check and guidelines for academic stuff on universal learning methods.

It was very important to gain opinion of persons with disabilities. According to people with disability survey one third of respondents aged 18-34 who have not studied in a university would rather choose further education in courses or seminars, whereas only 19.8% would choose to study in a university. Only 32% of respondents have faced the obstacles during the studying process and for 9% of respondents the obstacles prevented to gain higher education.

The full report in available in Latvian. For more information please contact Anete Ilves.

Conference “Accessibility of Inclusive Education”

Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities Ombudsman of Latvia in collaboration with National Library of Latvia and Persons with disabilities and their friends association “Apeirons” organized a conference “Accessibility of Inclusive Education” on 3 December 2016.

Participants of the conference were honoured by the speech of professor Theresia Degener, LL.M. (Berkeley), professor of Law and Disability Studies, Head of Bochum Centre for Disability Studies (BODYS), Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (live-streaming, a video-recorded speech).

The conference was divided into two sessions. The framework of the first session included topics of primary, secondary and higher education for persons with disabilities or special needs; parents’ experience struggling to get their children to be accepted to mainstream school, as well as good examples and compiling suggestions to improve the system.

The second session of the conference was divided into three workshops: availability of education and experience of parents; practical solutions for libraries for persons with disabilities and accessibility of higher education institutions. There was an unexpected responsiveness from parents for the first workshop where they could share their experience and suggest solutions for improvement of how children with special needs can enrol in mainstream schools. Monitoring results and good examples and support for students with disabilities from higher education institutions of Latvia were discussed in the third thematic group.

Award ceremony for non-governmental organizations for supporting people with disabilities

For the second year the Ombudsman of the Republic of Latvia, in cooperation with the Latvian National Library and People with disabilities and their friends association “Apeirons” organized the competition for the non-governmental organizations which support people with disabilities. The competition aims to discover the good practice examples and to encourage activity of non-governmental organizations which represent and support persons with disabilities.

Every Latvian inhabitant or non-governmental organisation was able to nominate a candidate in one or several of six categories:

  • “The loudest voice”
  • “Promoter of employment"
  • “Social campaign”
  • “Defendant of children with disabilities rights"
  • “Service provider”
  • “Promoter of education”

People with disabilities non-governmental organizations in all abovementioned categories were honoured in the award ceremony on 3 December 2016 at the Latvian National Library.

During the award ceremony Minister of Welfare Mr. J.Reirs thanked the persons who with the dedication supported and represented the interests of persons with disabilities.

Additionally State Education Development Agency of the Republic of Latvia awarded those education institutions which have supported implementation of “Erasmus +” mobility program.


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