Government Board for People with Disabilities

 

Assets of the Government Board for People with Disabilities

The Government Board for People with Disabilities (hereinafter frequently referred to under the Czech abbreviation of VVZPO) is a co-ordinating and advisory body of the Government. While in existence, it has become a perfectly natural place for public service bodies to meet with the non-governmental sphere - organizations of people with disabilities. In March 1998, on the initiative of the organizations of disabled people, the Board was extended to include two more members - elected representatives of disabled persons.

In its irreplaceable capacity, the Government Board takes credit for the fact the Government of the Czech Republic has adopted already three important documents outlining Government policy towards the disabled, namely the "National Plan of Actions for the Handicapped Persons" of June 1992, the "National Plan of Measures to Reduce the Negative Impact of Disability" of September 1993 (hereinafter often referred to under the Czech abbreviation of NPO) and „National Plan on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities" (hereinafter often referred to under the Czech abbreviation of NPVP) of April 1998. Even though these documents have not yet been implemented in their entirety, they have, no doubt, contributed significantly to keeping a social consensus of the disabled part of the population.

The fact that exactly during a major transformation of the whole of our legislative system not a single relevant act of legislation remained without comments from our disabled fellow-citizens is another substantial asset of the Government Board. Staff members of the Secretariat co-ordinate the collection of comments from those civic associations that want to and know how to voice their opinion on new legislation. Wherever needed, they give the comments the correct formal shape. Thanks to them, comments from those concerned are defended in the procedure of adoption and the majority of realistic proposals submitted by disabled persons are accepted. Of great importance is also the fact that the Secretariat of the VVZPO can easily be reached in "emergency situations" when there is so little time for comments that it is practically impossible to obtain any from outside. Over the period of its existence, the Board Secretariat has retrieved comments on more than 1 400 bills.

Working in the expert commissions, Board bodies of great importance, are specialists both from public service bodies and from the ranks of the handicapped. The "neutral grounds" of the Office of the Government are perfectly suited for the dealings of the parties concerned, with the Secretariat staff providing all the necessary administrative service.

The Government Board has contributed substantially to keeping the general public well posted on the problems of the handicapped as witnessed by media workers' unflagging interest in the results of its activities.

Moreover, the Board has been able to boost the journalists' personal interest in the relevant problems by offering a Government Board Award for the best works propagating the problems of the disabled population in the press, radio and television. The first annual course of this Prize competition took place in the year 1994 and since that it is held regularly each year. Within nine years more than 470 works have been entered and assessed.

Only problems which cannot be dealt with independently by a single Government department are put on the agenda of the Government Board for People with Disabilities. However, the benefits of the existence of the VVZPO include the fact that at each relevant Government department there is a official commissioned to take a particular interest in the problems concerned (usually member of the Board).