Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles

Transmitted by Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (26 March 1996) Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI, WBU

General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in Spain is expressed in law and in guidelines adopted by the Government. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: individual support, rehabilitation, prevention, accessibility measures, anti-discrimination law.

Since the adoption of the Rules the Government has not done anything to initiate or support information campaigns conveying the message of full participation.


The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism available to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts). Administrative and other non-judicial bodies include: an Ombudsman, a Governmental body (administrative) and a special arbitration/conciliation body.

The general legislation applies to all categories of persons with disabilities with respect to: education, employment, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights, access to court-of-law, right to privacy, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, and participation in decisions affecting them.

Several laws concerning disability have been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.


There are laws and regulations requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, land, sea and air transportation and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a national authority and local Governments. The following measures have been promoted by the Government in order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing lifts and accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, ensuring accessibility in housing, providing financial incentives and financial support for accessibility measures in housing and providing for specially adapted motor vehicles. Special transport is available for the following purposes: medical treatment and education. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are: attitudinal factors, economic/budgetary factors, lack of knowledge, research and information and lack of enforcement mechanisms. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognized status, is not used as the first language in education of deaf people, and is not recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. The profession, however, of interpreters of the sign language has an official, recognized status. There are no measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services available. The following services are provided to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation being available for any purpose and easy readers for persons with mental disabilities.

Organizations of persons with disabilities

The "Confederationes Nationales de los diversos tipos de minusvalía" and the "Consejo espanol de Representantes de Minusválidos (CERMI)" act as the national umbrella organization of organizations of persons with disabilities. There are legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are sometimes consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at both national, regional and local level. The Government gives financial and organizational/logistic support to existing and new organizations of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in: Government, legislature and judiciary, to some extent in political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. In Spain disabled persons' organizations have the role to: advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures concerning the lives of persons with disabilities, contribute to public awareness and provide services.

Co-ordination of work

The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Social Affairs and to Her Majesty the Queen of Spain. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Finance, Health and Social Affairs, Employment, Education, of organizations of persons with disabilities and experts. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks, such as disseminating international norms and promoting political plans. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes in the disability field, improved legislation, a better dialogue in the disability field, and improved promotion of public awareness.