DISCIT Making persons with disabilies full citizens
Rune Halvorsen. Phto: HiOA

New book on the changing disability policy system

This book published by Routledge studies the changing disability policy system in nine European countries and is the first edited volume from the DISCIT project.

Rune Halvorsen (photo), Bjørn Hvinden, Jerome Bickenbach, Delia Ferri and Ana Marta Guillén Rodriguez are editors.

Being an ‘active citizen’ involves exercising social rights and duties, enjoying choice and autonomy, and participating in political decision-making processes which are of importance for one’s life. Amid the new challenges facing contemporary welfare states, debate over just how ‘active’ citizens can and ought to be has redoubled.

Book coverPresenting research from the first major comparative and cross-national study of active citizenship and disability in Europe, this book analyses the consequences of ongoing changes in Europe – what opportunities do persons with disabilities have to exercise Active Citizenship?

The Changing Disability Policy System: Active Citizenship and Disability in Europe Volume 1 approaches the conditions for Active Citizenship from a macro perspective in order to capture the impact of the overall disability policy system. This system takes diverse and changing forms in the nine European countries under study. Central to the analysis are issues of coherence and coordination between three subsystems of the disability policy system, and between levels of governance.

This book identifies the implications and policy lessons of the findings for future disability policy in Europe and beyond.

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Bjørn Hvinden. Photo: NOVA

Hvinden presented DISCIT for the Disability High Level Group

Scientific Leader of DISCIT Bjorn Hvinden presented the main findings and recommendations of the project for the Disability High Level at the meeting 9 June 2016.

The Group has representatives of all EU Member States.

Hvinden emphasised the need to refocus public policy to ensure access to community and independent living for disabled people, and to use greater imagination, diversity and experimentation to enable disabled people to have relevant and accessible employment.

He highlighted the necessity to remove barriers to the effective use of affordable and accessible technology, and to strengthen provisions to enable all disabled people to participate in organisational and political activity on an equal basis with others.

Finally, he stressed the need for improving available information sources on the situation of persons with disabilities in Europe to allow monitoring the implementation of the UN CRPD in a consistent and reliable way across Member States.

Read more about The Disability High Level Group


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Working at office. Man in wheelchair. colourbox.com

DISCIT Final Report Executive Summary

The FP7 project DISCIT provides new knowledge about the diversity in disability policy in European countries and emerging possibilities for policy learning and innovation across Europe. This knowledge shows what steps policymakers and stakeholders need to take to enable persons with disabilities to exercise Active Citizenship and participate fully in society on an equal basis with others.

In DISCIT, 10 organisations (six universities, two research institutes and two Civil Society Organisations) from 10 different countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and UK) worked intensively together over a period of three years (February 2013 – January 2016).

Through the involvement of the European Disability Forum (EDF, Belgium) as one of the Consortium Members, an International Scientific Advisory Committee, a European Stakeholder Committee and National Stakeholder Committees, the DISCIT team was able to involve civil society and policy makers during the lifetime of the project.

Coordinated policy actions?

When examining how policymakers and stakeholders discuss disability policy and put it into practice, DISCIT has taken into account the different levels of governance involved and their interrelationships: first, international policy and law (notably the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities); second, regional policy and law (EU legislation, strategies, Social Fund grants, etc.); third, national policies (policy and law on cash transfer, services delivery and social regulation); and finally, subnational/local policies (systems of provisions and regulations).

A major issue has been whether the decision-makers succeed in coordinating actions taken at these different levels of disability policy governance and make these actions mutually supporting.

Three steps in data collection and data analysis

DISCIT collected and analysed data in three steps: First, the team started by synthesising policy documents and existing statistics and findings from earlier research. The purpose of this step, which the team mainly carried out in 2013, was to map and analyse the overall structures of national policy systems and developments in the situation of persons with disabilities over time.

Second, during 2014, the team conducted 217 life course interviews with an almost equal number of women and men, with four main types of disabilities, from three birth cohorts (born around 1950, 1970 and 1990) and in nine countries (Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and UK). The interviews provided new knowledge about the experiences and perceptions of persons with disabilities, and change and continuity within and across countries.

Third and finally, in 2015, the team conducted 85 interviews with other informants (experts) in the nine countries to assess the actual development in disability policy and the degree of coordination between levels of policy governance in practice.

Eight Policy Briefs

All this work led to eight Policy Briefs in different European languages, 60 varying dissemination activities (including conferences, press releases and videos) and 25 scientific Deliverables, of which DISCIT has published 22 as working papers on its websites.

Two books from Routledge

The international publisher Routledge has agreed to publish the two main joint scientific publications from DISCIT – two edited volumes – by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

Furthermore, four colleagues involved in DISCIT are currently working with their doctoral theses partly based on DISCIT findings. By 2017, DISCIT Consortium Members will have published at least 10 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

For further information, please contact:
Bjørn Hvinden, Scientific Coordinator DISCIT, bjorn.hvinden@nova.hioa.no, or
Bettina Uhrig, Project Manager DISCIT, bettina.uhrig@nova.hioa.no

Download the DISCIT Final Report Executive Summary

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