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Room for improvement Disabled still face barriers ten years after law

An uphill struggle: the disabled in Switzerland


The situation for people with disabilities is still not completely satisfactory, ten years after an anti-discrimination law came into force. The disabled are more exposed to the risk of poverty, a study has found.

A comparison of figures from 2007 and 2012external link, published by the Federal Statistics Office external linkon Friday, shows improved education and training but a deteriorating financial situation, while the rate of workforce participation, general life satisfaction and independent use of public transport has stagnated.

The law, which came into force on January 1, 2004, is aimed at easing the participation of disabled people in everyday life, by helping them establish social contact via training or having a job.

In 2012 19% of disabled people were living in a household with an income that was under 60% of the Swiss average – up from only 14% in 2007.  This compares to 11% for the rest of the population living below this poverty threshold for both years.

The situation is even worse for people with more severe disabilities. Around 25% of these are exposed to the risk of poverty. In 2012, CHF30,031 ($33,620) was considered the benchmark for a single person household to be at risk.

Access to public transport has also declined slightly: 90% of those asked were able to use trains and buses without help in 2007, compared with 88% in 2012.

Overall, those with disabilities posted a life satisfaction rate of 7.3 out of ten compared with 8.2 for the rest of the population. Among those with severe disabilities, the rate fell to 6.7.

However, training has improved despite the fact that the level of education among people with disabilities remains generally lower than among the rest of the population, the statistics office said.  Since 2007 the number of the disabled with post-secondary education training has increased from 16% to 22%. This trend is also seen among the general population, so the gap is becoming smaller, the office reported.

In terms of workforce participation, the situation has stagnated: at 68% for people with disabilities, it remains 17 percentage points less than the rest of the population. For those with more severe disabilities, the rate of workforce participation is one in two.

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