218. Pupils, apprentices and training candidates who are partially or totally without functional speech and who require alternative and supplementary communication, shall be allowed to use their own forms of communication and the necessary communication aids in their education. This is laid down in the Education Act and is also discussed in the guides on special educational support, adapted education, and special needs education.
219. Under the law, all students have a statutory right to an individual education plan. The purpose of the plan is to forge a closer, more binding relationship between the institution and the student. It will also serve as a means of revealing various needs for adaptation. No national rules have been set as to what such adaptation can or must entail. The institutions are best placed to assess which types of adaptation are most appropriate for the individual student. The institution and the student ought to cooperate on finding satisfactory solutions. It is important that students provide educational institutions with information about their adaptation needs as soon as possible. Students who apply for higher education are encouraged to provide this information along with their application.
220. Universell [Universal], the Ministry's unit responsible for adaptation in higher education, has been commissioned to prepare a report on how students use expert assessments in connection with their studies and their need for assistive aids. The report will also contain a survey of who covers the costs of collecting relevant documentation. The report is expected to be ready in the course of 2015.
221. See Article 30 for a discussion of the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille.
222. All pupils are entitled to a good and inclusive learning environment. A good learning environment and teacher competence in leading a class are important to the pupils' development.
223. Under the University and University Colleges Act, the educational institutions are assigned responsibility for the students' learning environment. The Act states that the learning environment must, "as far as possible and reasonable", be designed on the principle of universal design. Furthermore, the Act states that premises, access roads, sanitary facilities and technical installations must, "as far as possible and reasonable", be designed in such a way as to enable persons with disabilities to study at the institution. The provisions in the Act help ensure that students with special needs can have their knowledge and skills tested in an academically satisfactory and fair manner without compromising the academic requirements set for higher education. The state allocates funding to buy, install and rehabilitate affordable student accommodation within the prevailing budgetary limits.
224. The State Educational Loan Fund offers additional support to students with disabilities taking higher education. This consists of a fixed monthly amount and is intended to cover additional expenses which students with disabilities incur in connection with accommodation and transport. A total of 327 students received additional grants in the 2012–2013 academic year.
225. Through supervision, the authorities can assess practice in individual municipalities, counties and schools and can give concrete feedback on any breaches of the law. The topic for the national audit for the period 2014–2017 is how the schools work on pupils' learning outcomes. This applies to the educational provision in general and to the educational provision for pupils with special needs in particular, including the need for special needs education and the related case processing rules. Guidance activities are arranged before and after the supervision is conducted, aimed to achieving best possible compliance with regulations.
Educational provision for persons aged over 26 years with disabilities
226. Mainstream education is public or private education that is open to everyone and that provides formal qualifications, that is qualifications that are documented in the form of a diploma or other type of official document issued by schools and educational institutions. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration can provide support for mainstream education to persons with disabilities aged over 26 years. The education may last for up to three years.
227. See also Articles 4, 14, 17 and 19.
228. Article 14 mentions that in the declaration on Norway's interpretative declaration issued when ratifying the Convention, Norway declared its understanding that "the Convention allows compulsory care and treatment of people, including measures to treat mental disorders, when the circumstances make such treatment necessary as a last resort, and the treatment is subject to guarantees of due process." The Government maintains this declaration of interpretation and believes it to be in line with a broad understanding of the Convention among the States Parties.
229. As mentioned under Article 14, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has issued general comments on some of the articles in the Convention. Norway has responded to the comments, explaining in more detail why the Government maintains the interpretative declarations concerning Articles 12, 14 and 25. With respect to Article 25, Norway has commented:
230. “Article 25 of the Convention establishes the right of people with disabilities to health services in general. According to Article 25 (d), States Parties shall require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, cf. also the principle of equality and the prohibition of discrimination in Article 5 of the Convention. A natural interpretation of this principle of equality or prohibition of discrimination is that it entails an obligation to treat similar or comparable cases in the same way. It is not a breach of the principle of equality to consider different illnesses and disorders differently with regard to the medical treatment that is required. This also applies when individual circumstances make compulsory measures necessary in the treatment of a serious mental disorder.”
231. The obligation of the States Parties under Article 25 (d) to require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, “including on the basis of free and informed consent”, must also be understood in light of the context described above. A natural and reasonable interpretation of the provision in Article 25 (d), also taking into account its placement and context, is that persons with disabilities shall generally be provided with care of the same quality as others in comparable situations. This care will be provided on the basis of free and informed consent to the same degree as for others, provided that the person concerned is capable of giving an informed consent. Thus, a mentally ill patient may not be subjected to compulsory somatic treatment, save in the exceptional circumstances when such treatment is also permissible for other patients.”
232. Persons with disabilities have the same rights to healthcare services as the rest of the population. Municipal healthcare services have a statutory obligation to maintain an overview of the state of health of the population, and to provide necessary medical assistance to all inhabitants. When specialised medical assistance is needed that cannot be provided by the primary health service, patients must be referred to the specialist health service for further assessment and possibly treatment. Municipalities and the specialist health service are obliged to enter into cooperative agreements to ensure that patients receive a comprehensive service. Patients can be required to pay a share of the cost of most public health and social care services, also when these are provided by private service providers who have an agreement with the municipality or regional health authority. For most patients, specialist treatment entailing hospitalisation is covered in its entirety by the regional health authority.