5. The Government's policy is based on equity, and charges the public sector with responsibility for ensuring that everyone, according to their capabilities, has equal opportunities to improve their living conditions and to exercise their rights and obligations as members of society.
6. Norway has applied the definitions stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A review of Norwegian legislation was conducted between 2007, when Norway signed the treaty, and 2013 when it was ratified. The provisions of the Guardianship Act were not in compliance with the provisions of the treaty. The Act was examined before the treaty was ratified, and Norway now has a new Guardianship Act that is in line with the provisions of the treaty.
7. Norwegian policy for persons with disabilities complies with the principles set out in the Convention. Disabilities have traditionally been regarded as a personal trait (a disease, injury or defect). Over time, this biological–medical understanding has been challenged. This understanding did not take sufficient account of the challenges created by the society in which disabled persons live. In Norway today, disabilities are normally regarded as the gap between the individual's capabilities and society’s demands. This gap is bridged by increasing accessibility in society and by strengthening the individual's capabilities. User involvement is also a key element in Norwegian policy. The principle of sectoral responsibility forms the basis for Norwegian policy for persons with disabilities.
8. In this context, 'language' means spoken language, sign language, and other forms of non-verbal communication. In Norway, Norwegian sign language is recognized as a language in its own right.
Norway's policy for persons with disabilities
9. The principle of organisational and social integration forms the basis for developing measures in the different sectors. The principle of sectoral responsibility, a rights-based approach, and user involvement form the basis of Norwegian policy for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities still face barriers that hinder equal opportunities for activity and participation. Persons with disabilities in Norway must have opportunities for personal development, participation, and self-realisation on an equal basis with others.
Disabled people's organisations/user involvement
10. The authorities allocate considerable resources to disabled people's organisations every year, in the form of operating subsidies and subsidies for peer support activities. For example, operating subsidies are allocated to improve opportunities for disabled people's organisations to promote their interests and to provide services to their members, such as local welfare schemes. The operating subsidies for peer support activities are used to fund visitor services, telephone helplines, courses, seminars, and employment schemes. The allocation for operating subsidies and peer support activities in 2014 totalled around NOK 163.4 million. There is considerable contact between the authorities and disabled people's organisations. Regular meetings are held between the umbrella organisations (Norwegian Federation of Organizations of Disabled People (FFO) and the Norwegian Forum for Organisations of Disable People (SAFO)) and the ministries. There is also extensive contact at director level.
11. Under the Health and Care Services Act, municipalities must ensure that patient and user representatives are heard when municipal health and care services are designed to ensure patient and user involvement at system level. Furthermore, municipalities must ensure that undertakings providing health and care services establish systems for obtaining information on patient and user experiences and views. The municipal health and care services must also facilitate cooperation with user organisations. Each municipality decides how this work should be organised and in which areas cooperation is needed. In practice, it will often be relevant to cooperate on preventive measures (aimed at groups), but this type of cooperation may also be relevant in the case of measures for individuals with particularly complex needs.
12. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) must offer services and benefits that are based on the capabilities and needs of the individual user. Active user involvement is facilitated at individual and system levels to achieve this. This requires a fundamental respect for users and a willingness to listen to and make use of users’ knowledge of their own situation and needs. The object of such a focus/user perspective is to learn about users' needs by engaging in dialogue to find out what they need and how they experience the services, and to use this knowledge in constant efforts to improve quality and service. This also entails a challenge in terms of how services are provided and how to design benefits so that they are perceived as relevant and beneficial to users. User involvement at individual level entails having the power to influence one's own personal services. Each user must be heard in all phases of service provision, both when they are allocated and when they are provided. The right to be involved in one's own case is established by law. User involvement at system level means having the power to influence the organisation and quality of services. User representatives sit on user councils at both local and national levels.
Constitutional amendments of May 2014
13. In connection with the bicentenary of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway in May 2014, the Constitution was extensively revised, primarily to strengthen protection of human rights in the Constitution. As a result, the Constitution now has comprehensive coverage of human rights that include the most fundamental civil and political rights as well as some economic, social and cultural rights. The principle of equality and the prohibition against discrimination are laid down in Article 98 of the Constitution, which reads as follows: “All people are equal under the law. No human being must be subject to unfair or disproportionate differential treatment.”