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Government bill promotes equal rights for the disabled



The cabinet has taken a step to remove discrimination against the handicapped. It has put forward a draft bill for debate, which is a counter-proposal to a number of parliamentary moves.

The cabinet wants to guarantee the disabled access to all public buildings, sites, and services. Many cantons have already addressed the problems of the handicapped, but some would have to amend or complete their legislation.

As a major employer, the federal authorities also want to introduce positive discrimination, so that where handicapped and non-handicapped job applicants have equal qualifications, it would be the disabled person who gets the job.

And as owner of most of the railways in Switzerland, the government favours major modifications to station buildings and rolling stock to permit wheelchair access.

Elementary schools would be compelled to accommodate pupils using Braille and sign language.

The government estimates that the anti-discrimination measures would cost at least SFr55 million. That could rise to as much as SFr900 million with a rapid conversion of public transport services.

by Peter Haller