It is the Ombudsman’s task to keep up with developments regarding equal treatment of persons with disabilities. Among other things, the task is solved by carrying out monitoring visits to public facilities and buildings where the objective is to secure inclusion of persons with physical disabilities. This means that persons with disabilities have access to public facilities on equal terms with others.
The Ombudsman keeps abreast of issues about equal treatment of persons with disabilities and points out any problems within his jurisdiction. The Parliament, the Folketing, has asked for him to carry out this task – most recently when the Folketing in 2010 ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
At the same time, the Folketing appointed the Danish Institute for Human Rights to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the convention. This task is solved by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in collaboration with the Danish Disability Council and the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman keeps track of the field in a number of ways:
The Ombudsman monitors disability access to public places.
The Ombudsman’s staff members carry out monitoring visits to selected public buildings and related outdoor spaces.
The monitoring team examines whether the building facilities are accessible to all users – for instance, is the disabled parking adequate, is the main entrance accessible to wheelchair users, and are the toilet facilities accessible.
The purpose of the monitoring visits is partly to follow the development in accessibility for persons with disabilities, partly to point out specific errors and omissions.
For example, the Ombudsman has carried out monitoring visits in regard to accessibility for persons with disabilities in city halls, hospitals, museums and educational institutions.
The Ombudsman processes complaints from citizens regarding questions on equal treatment of persons with disabilities – it may for instance be cases about subsidy for a disability car or adjustment to the labour market in consequence of a disability. The complaints are treated in accordance with the same criteria as other complaints submitted to the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman can open a case on his own initiative, for example based on newspaper coverage or an enquiry from a citizen. By way of example, the Ombudsman has done this in a case about a cab driver who, due to his dyslexia, needed to be granted exemption for an exam.
Rules and regulations in this field
In accordance with Section 7 of the Ombudsman Act (Consolidation Act No. 349 of 22 March 2013), the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction extends to all parts of the public administration. Pursuant to Section 18, the Ombudsman may inspect any institution or company and any place of employment falling within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
In this context, and the in connection with such an investigation, the Ombudsman may assess matters on the basis of universal human and humanitarian considerations, cf. Section 18, second sentence.
Equal treatment of persons with disabilities
On 2 April 1993, the Folketing adapted the motion for resolution about equal rights and equal treatment of persons with disabilities. At the motion for resolution, the Folketing asked the Parliamentary Ombudsman to ‘keep track of developments in equal treatment and, if relevant, give criticism where this is possible within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction’. The motion for resolution has been repeated in connection with the Folketing’s implementation of the UN Convention in 2010 (cf. the parliamentary resolution B 15 of 17 December 2010).
The grounds for the Ombudsman’s assessments in the disability field are, among other things, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, the Danish Building Act, the Danish Building Regulations and the recommendations from BUILD – Department for the Built Environment.