46. Most of the barriers encountered by persons with disabilities are man-made. They are the result of society's failure to take into account the diversity of its population in its planning and design. The authorities issues various measures and policy instruments to give priority to awareness-raising and user participation to reach the goal of an equal society.
Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud
47. The Anti-Discrimination Ombud Act states that the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud should promote genuine equality regardless of disability. This entails ensuring that the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act is implemented in practice. The Ombud should work on influencing attitudes and behaviour, and should conduct outreach activities to ensure genuine equality regardless of disability. The Ombud should also participate in the public debate on equality, keep a critical eye on activities in both the public and private sectors, and contribute the premises for policy formation in this area.
Cooperation and coordination
48. The principle of sectoral responsibility forms the basis for efforts to ensure equality for persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion and the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs collaborate on and coordinate policy for persons with disabilities in areas where this is required. The Delta Centre, which is a part of the Directorate, supports various social actors in their work on universal design to enable persons with disabilities to participate in society on equal terms with others. The Directorate has a broad platform of cooperation with other agencies and organisations. Municipalities, research communities, interest organisations and others are drawn into this work to ensure the quality of user-oriented services.
49. In 2015, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) created a new national institution for human rights. This institution will report to the Storting but will otherwise be independent, and is expected to meet the criteria in the UN Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris principles). This institution monitor and report on the status of human rights in Norway and make recommendations to ensure that Norway's human rights obligations are met.
Activity and reporting obligations
50. The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act requires public authorities, the social partners and private-sector employers with more than 50 employees to make active, targeted and systematic efforts to promote equality and prevent discrimination based on disability. Furthermore, all public and private undertakings serving the public must make active and targeted efforts to promote universal design within their own organisations. By 'universal design' is meant design or accommodation of the main system as regards the physical conditions so that the normal function of the undertaking can be used by as many people as possible. See Article 4 for more details.
Information and development programme
51. People with intellectual disabilities have the right to independent lives and to be part of society. Persons with intellectual disabilities must have choices, just like everyone else. That was the gist of the mental health care reform adopted more than 20 years ago, and it still applies today. An information programme aimed at raising awareness about these rights has been implemented, and will be updated and continued in 2015.
Immigrant participation in interest groups for persons with intellectual disabilities
52. The report entitled Interesseorganisasjoner for utviklingshemmede – også for innvandrere? [Interest organisations for persons with intellectual disabilities – and for immigrants?], which was presented to the state secretary at the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion on 1 December 2014, shows that few immigrants participate in interest groups for persons with intellectual disabilities. The findings suggest that the reasons for this are that they receive no information about these organisations or that they receive inadequate information about what membership entails. At the same time, immigrants find that the activities arranged by these organisations do not make provision for immigrant families. See also the section in Article 19 the Public Committee on Fundamental Rights of Persons with Intellectual disabilities.
Persons with disabilities and Sami background
53. In cooperation with the Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues, the authorities have launched a project to study the living conditions for persons with disabilities and Sami background. The project will differentiate between different types of disabilities in order to see what differences exist between intellectual disabilities and various types of functional disabilities. The project will also look at the challenges associated with settlement, culture, popular beliefs, language, encounters with support services, etc. The project, which will run for three years and will be completed in late 2017, will include the entire Sami populations of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities
54. The authorities arrange an annual conference to mark the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December. The main theme for the 2014 conference was ‘Growing up with a disability in Norway’. The conference attracts central and local authorities, organisations, the volunteer sector and other sector authorities, and is important for placing the spotlight on key issues for persons with disabilities.
Article 9 Accessibility
55. See also article 4.
56. The goal of improving accessibility in Norwegian society is a high priority. The authorities want to move away from a way of thinking that defines the individual as the problem and where special measures for people with disabilities constitute the rule rather than the exception. Universal design of the physical environment implies an equitable level of accessibility. The Government emphasizes that much of this must be achieved by the municipalities and the county municipalities adopting a strategy for universal design in local and regional planning, in compliance with the Planning and Building Act. The authorities make systematic efforts to promote knowledge and set requirements for universal design in the development of man-made environments. Key areas in this respect are buildings and installations, planning, outdoor areas, transport and ICT. The Government is currently preparing a new action plan for universal design and increased accessibility. The priority areas in the plan are ICT and welfare technology.