Press Releases

Press Releases

The Housing Authority’s Disability Scheme has been recently revised with the aim to better address the needs of persons with disabilities.

The scheme is the first in a series of revisions of policies which is being carried out by the Housing Authority as part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Authority and the Commission for the Rights of persons with a Disability (CRPD) last year.

Apart from the revision of policies, the MOU states that CRPD will also provide disability equality training to staff members of the Housing Authority on an annual basis.

“As the national regulator of the disability sector in Malta, CRPD is pleased to collaborate with the Housing Authority and commends its commitment to improve the lives of disabled persons in Malta. This is a proactive measure which goes beyond what is required by law and works to sensitize and amend policies so that housing can be accessed by all,” said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna.

Amendments to the Disability Scheme include the increase in the assistance from €5,000 to €7,000 on lifts in private blocks of apartments where there is a person with disability.

In private houses, the maximum grant for a lift installation in a private house has increased to €20,000 from€15,000.

Other measures relate to the elimination of the clause which stated that the value of the property in respect of which the application is made should not exceed €250,000. The limit of the applicants’ capital assets has also been raised from €30,000 to €150,000.

The income of the applicants together with the eligibility of the grant has also been amended, with the 100 per cent assistance threshold raised from €15,000 to €25,000.

Apart from the MOU, CRPD also reviews all the applications submitted to the Planning Authority in order to vet their accessibility. The developer is required to obtain a certificate from CRPD stating that the plans are compliant, before the Planning Authority issues a compliance certificate to allow for water and electricity to be connected to the development. CRPD also provides a weekly consultation service at the Planning Authority offices, where a CRPD technical expert provides advice regarding physical accessibility to those who are in the process of submitting development applications.

Also, last summer, the Accessibility Standards for all in a Built Environment Regulations were formally announced. The standards used to be a Maltese National Standard adopted by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority which came into effect upon publication of a notice on 10 April 2015, but have now been directly transposed into Maltese law.

A new forum – the first of its kind in Malta – aims to build closer ties between the disability and business sectors, creating a platform for discussion and improving dialogue between persons with a disability and business organisations.

The Malta Business Disability Forum, chaired by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), was set up officially through the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding between its nine members.

Apart from the CRPD, these are the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry; the Malta Employers’ Association and the GRTU – Malta Chamber of SMEs as founding members. These have been joined by the MFOPD – Malta Federation Organisations of Persons with Disability; the Faculty for Social Wellbeing; the Office of the Commissioner for Mental Health; the Gozo Business Chamber and the Local Councils’ Association.

“We wanted to bring together stakeholders from different fields but with a common focus, to create a stronger unified voice to bring about concrete action. We feel that this forum – the first of its kind in Malta – has extraordinary potential and we are very excited to be leading it forward,” said CRPD commissioner Oliver Scicluna.

Based on a similar set-up as in the UK, this entity will also focus on bridging the gap between employers and persons with disability.

There are over 19,000 persons with a disability registered with the Commission. Yet barriers to accessibility and employment for disabled people are still rife.

Together, the entities forming part of the Forum will work to maximise accessibility for persons with a disability in the business and employment spheres. They will also work to help bridge the gap between business people and persons with disability and promote accessibility in service provision while enhancing the career and employment aspirations of persons with disability.

The Forum will also work to identify issues that require action and attention and to influence government and policymakers to remove barriers and change legislation and bureaucratic practices.
It will also act as a point of reference for government and policy makers to provide feedback to new policies. The Forum will work to commission research in the field of disability and business, explore interlinks and provide evidence for action; to show the business and employment potential of persons with a disability, as consumers and business owners and to generate public awareness on these issues.


Only 42 out of a total of 334 commercial outlets on the Gzira/Sliema seafront are physically accessible, according to a new report issued by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD).

Following complaints regarding physical accessibility, officials from the Commission carried out onsite inspections at all the commercial outlets located on the Gzira and Sliema front between November last year and April this year.

The figures speak for themselves. Out of a total of 334 commercial outlets, 292 outlets do not conform to the Access for All Design Guidelines 2011 (AADG 2011) issued by the Commission. Of these, 15 outlets offer an alternative while 18 had works in progress at the time of the inspections.

A closer look reveals the following figures. 187 outlets only require the installation of a temporary ramp to become accessible. 55 require the implementation of minor works such as alterations in the main entrance door while 11 require major works such as the installation of a passenger lift.

The report follows a similar one undertaken last year in Valletta, which painted a similar picture. Onsite inspections carried out in Republic Street and Merchants’ Street between June and July last year showed that, out of a total of 375 commercial outlets, only 31 outlets conformed to the AADG 2011 while 344 outlets did not.

Of these, 278 outlets require only the installation of a temporary ramp while 32 require the implementation of minor works and nine require major works.

The reports include photos of the entrances of all the outlets, with detailed measurements.

There are 19,261 persons with a disability registered with the Commission and 14,827 of these have a physical impairment. Yet physical accessibility remains a major obstacle in Malta.

“While a lot has been achieved, much remains to be done,” said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna. “Persons with a disability are consumers, employers and employees; those businesses who choose to remain inaccessible are missing out on a section of their potential clientele.”

Just last summer, the Accessibility Standards for all in a Built Environment Regulations were formally announced. The standards used to be a Maltese National Standard adopted by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority which came into effect upon publication of a notice on 10 April 2015, but are now directly transposed into Maltese law.

Meanwhile, the Malta Business Disability Forum, a platform chaired by the CRPD and composed of representatives from the disability, employment and civil society sectors, has been discussing the reports and will shortly present proposals on how to increase the physical accessibility of businesses.

View the Gzira-Sliema report 
View the Valletta report

The Commission for Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) has issued a call for interviewees to participate in a research study to better understand the employment situation of disabled people in Malta.

Research will be carried out amongst both those already employed as well as those not in employment. This research forms part of the ESF 2.63 Project Knowledge, Training, Communications and Support Measures to Vulnerable Groups which is co-financed by the European Social Fund of the European Union.

The considerable barriers that disabled persons face with regards to entering and retaining employment plays a significant part in the low rate of participation of disabled persons in employment. Public attitudes and misconceptions regarding disability issues continue to hinder disabled persons in accessing a number of sectors in life including that of employment.

The study will cover various topics regarding employment. These include the type of work that disabled people are currently engaged in, the type of work those seeking employment are interested in, and the reasons that lead to some disabled people to not seek employment.

The research shall be carried out through a face-to-face interview with an authorised interviewer. Information given during the survey will not be retraceable back to the interviewee.

The CRPD has commissioned Ernst & Young (EY) to carry out the research. Those interested in taking part are kindly requested to confirm their intention to participate in this important research exercise by calling Anselmo Bugeja at EY on tel 9947 6526 / 2347 1219 or [email protected].

The information that you will give us will assist disabled persons to find and retain employment in Malta.

For more information, contact Allison Zammit on 2226 7600 or [email protected].

From left: Lorraine Pleven, Sandra Borg, Matthew Giordimaina, Clifford Portelli, Rhoda Garland, Oliver Scicluna, Christian Camilleri, Marica Bayliss, Matthew Chetcuti, Kevin Glynn, Michael Debattista

 

Malta needs more politicians with a disability as these are best placed to understand the challenges faced by disabled people, said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna.

“Our voice is best directly represented by persons with a disability themselves; we fight not only for our own impairments but for those of others,” said the Commissioner.

“I would like to see persons with a disability in parliament and leading party structures; then we will see a change in mentality in the sector and society at large.”

A few weeks ahead of the local council elections, the Commissioner met with a number of candidates with a disability who will be running for election in their local communities.

Marica Bayliss, Matthew Chetcuti, Matthew Giordimaina, Kevin Glynn and Clifford Portelli spoke about the obstacles they face when running their political campaigns, particularly the difficulties of doing house visits in Malta’s villages. From inaccessible premises and apartments to patronizing attitudes and prejudices and increased expenses, the candidates discussed the common challenges they face.

Perhaps a fund could be set up to off set some of the extra expenses shouldered by candidates with a disability and enable them to compete on a more level playing field with their non-disabled counterparts, suggested the Commissioner.

Accessibility was a major issue, with most candidates pointing out that even local council premises are often not accessible.

The issue of a trusted friend who could help disabled people vote was also discussed. An increase in the number of disabled voters could well result in an increase in the number of persons with a disability in politics. Perhaps the use of technology might be instrumental in overcoming this particular issue.

There are at least 18,000 people registered with the CRPD, said the Commissioner. Yet this is not reflected in the country’s political representation, creating a gap in the representation of diversity at community level.

Most of the candidates pointed out that they live disability every day and that persons with a disability find it easier to talk to them about their difficulties than their non-disabled counterparts.

In a meeting which spanned party divisions, the candidates agreed to keep in touch and make suggestions to their respective parties to help promote the rights of persons with disability.

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) is concerned at the recent statements issued by the teachers’ and educators’ unions, which might adversely affect disabled schoolchildren.

“While educators’ health and working conditions should be safeguarded, this cannot be at the expense of the well-being and dignity of disabled children, some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability Oliver Scicluna.

“Our interest is to ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in any way, according to the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act and the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with a Disability.”

Recent statements and directives issued by the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) and the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) have focused on Learning Support Educators (LSEs) and their duties in relation to disabled children.

The latest statement claimed that LSEs were getting badly injured at work after being made to lift children daily. It called for a higher number of LSEs that would be available to lift one child as well as a review of the current policy. It pointed out that some schools have the equipment to carry children but many mainstream schools do not.

LSEs support students in the classroom in a variety of ways, assisting teachers with the delivery of the national curriculum by breaking down the lesson in a way that children understand.

CRPD urges Government to take the necessary measures to safeguard the health of its educators and improve their working conditions. Not only should schools be accessible, but the necessary equipment, such as hoists and evacuation chairs, as well as appropriate training, should be available to assist LSEs in their duties. CRPD is always open for consultation and discussion.

However LSEs’ quest for better working conditions should not be at the expense of disabled children. “We very much hope that disabled children will not become collateral damage in the battle for membership between the teachers’ unions.”

CRPD is committed to rendering Maltese society an inclusive one, in a way that persons with disability reach their full potential in all aspects of life, enjoying a high quality of life thanks to equal opportunities.

In fulfilling this mission, CRPD works in order to eliminate any form of direct or indirect social discrimination against persons with disability and their families while providing them with the necessary assistance and support.