Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

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Elheru Aran
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Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-01-31 01:09pm

Hello all.

My wife and I are considering, at some point in our lives (probably within the next decade, at least) living overseas for a few years. Not just because of the political climate, though that certainly plays a part. We have two daughters and want them to gain some life experience in different cultures. Education is also a possible option, at least for me; my wife is finishing up her MLIS (Master's Degree in Library and Information Science), so the odds are she would try to find some work along those lines wherever we go. I'm considering enrolling in certain courses, particularly if we go to Europe, that are unavailable or very difficult to find here in the US.

The crux of this particular topic though is that I am profoundly deaf. My lip-reading is pretty minimal, so I depend upon interpretation, writing, and occasionally pulling out my cell phone to talk to people who don't know sign language (99.8%, in my experience). Even when I can successfully lip-read, I do it in English, in an American accent at that (I wasn't able to make heads or tails out of Canadians even). I get by reasonably well; though I get a small handout from the government, I am independently employed full-time without any particular accommodation at my workplace. Of course it helps that I work a night shift where I don't see very many customers, but nonetheless.

Anyway, here in the US, one thing we have is Federal law in the form of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that there are a number of public accommodations such as closed captions being provided on television, the law mandates that a sign language interpreter has to be provided without cost by government services, employers have to extend a 'reasonable accommodation' for my disability, and so forth. When I attended university (a public school by the way), there was a Students with Disabilities office maintained by the school that found me a sign language interpreter for classes. I'm actually not sure if closed captions are Federal law, but anyway. You get the idea.

The basic query is like this: Is there anything similar in your country? If not, are you aware of any ways that disabled people get by? For obvious reasons I am particularly interested in the deaf, but feel free to share any other examples that you know of, as it may help build a vision of how society in your country accommodates disabilities in general. Did you go to school with a deaf student? Have you shopped at a store where an employee was disabled? Is there any kind of cultural mindset towards disabled people that might be notable? And so forth.

If you're American but you have travelled overseas and seen examples of this for yourself, or have looked into it in any way, feel free to share as well.

Cheers!
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by LaCroix » 2018-01-31 01:41pm

Austria has pretty much the same legal framework and is very accomodating of all kinds of disabilities in general life.

But you might have a slight problem with sign language, I fear. Outside of the US, there are different sign languages in use.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Zaune » 2018-01-31 01:53pm

Here in the UK? In theory, it shouldn't be a huge issue: Legislation comparable to the ADA exists and we're fairly good at enforcing it... or at least the easy to prove parts.

In practice... Well, some employers are probably better than others when it comes to actually being non-discriminatory, but probably no worse than you deal with in the States. Although "reasonable accomodation" might be more of an issue than a British national with the same disability unless you either get better at lipreading people with unfamiliar accents (if you have trouble with a Canadian accent then you haven't a snowball's chance in hell with any of ours), teach yourself the local sign language or both.

As to attitudes towards the disabled... Again, probably no worse than you've encountered at home. Probably not better either, mind you, but you probably won't get harassed in the street about it.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-01-31 06:37pm

Thank you two both.

Re lip-reading: If I live there long enough, I can probably get lip-reading down in the local accent. As long as they're speaking English, anyway. Any other language, probably not. Given time though I can probably learn the written language well enough, as long as I have a decent amount of immersion. Obviously in the UK this wouldn't be a problem. Outside of the Anglosphere though... oof. Give it time and effort (and a decent vocabulary/grammar book)...

Sign language is probably less of an issue as (at least in some countries, obviously not all) often it's based upon the American system, simply adapted to the local grammar/vocabulary. If I meet a local deaf person, there's quite likely going to be some back and forth, but again given time I can probably get the hang of it. The main stumbling blocks are a.) local language and b.) if it's an entirely different system. ASL is based upon the French system actually, but I have no idea if for example German Sign Language has any relation.

That does bring up a question which I suppose I should have put in the OP-- how -common- is it to encounter disabled people? If US numbers are any indication only about .4% of the population is deaf, half of which are senior citizens and thus the deafness is due to advanced age rather than a lifetime condition so they don't really count, bringing it down to .2%. Which I guess is a pretty tiny proportion. I'm assuming that in most Western countries at least, they don't get packed off to residential homes or something like that. Are they educated separately, or is there any effort to integrate them into the school system, for example?
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Formless » 2018-01-31 07:13pm

Sign language is probably less of an issue as (at least in some countries, obviously not all) often it's based upon the American system, simply adapted to the local grammar/vocabulary.
The thing is that the choice of sign languages in a given region can be surprisingly incongruent with the spoken language in the same region. For instance, my parents (neither of whom are legally deaf but nonetheless are fluent in ASL) found that the Deaf in Mexico use a flavor of ASL that they could understand without much hassle (and neither of them are fluent in Spanish). However, in Britain they use BSL, and since ASL was invented by a French speaker while BSL was created by an English speaker they have significant grammatical differences. From what I've heard there are shared symbols, but its not as mutually intelligible as you would expect given both countries speak English. Because a lot of the English speaking world was influenced by Britain, a lot of those places use BSL instead of ASL, so there are some places where you might be able to communicate with lip reading but not sign, or sign but not lip reading.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Zaune » 2018-02-01 05:13am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-01-31 06:37pm
Thank you two both.

Re lip-reading: If I live there long enough, I can probably get lip-reading down in the local accent. As long as they're speaking English, anyway. Any other language, probably not. Given time though I can probably learn the written language well enough, as long as I have a decent amount of immersion. Obviously in the UK this wouldn't be a problem. Outside of the Anglosphere though... oof. Give it time and effort (and a decent vocabulary/grammar book)...
You're welcome. And that rather depends on which part of the UK. Some of our local accents (particularly but not exclusively in Scotland) have pronounciation differences and unique local slang that they're closer to a separate dialect, albeit a mostly mutually intelligible one. But it's not like hearing Americans have it any easier, as a friend of mine in the USAF who was stationed here for a while discovered much to his frustration, so don't let that put you off too much.
That does bring up a question which I suppose I should have put in the OP-- how -common- is it to encounter disabled people? If US numbers are any indication only about .4% of the population is deaf, half of which are senior citizens and thus the deafness is due to advanced age rather than a lifetime condition so they don't really count, bringing it down to .2%. Which I guess is a pretty tiny proportion. I'm assuming that in most Western countries at least, they don't get packed off to residential homes or something like that. Are they educated separately, or is there any effort to integrate them into the school system, for example?
Depends on the disability. The official policy is to make accomodations within the mainstream school system as far as possible, but a lot of our school buildings were built long before the rules about mandatory wheelchair-accessibility were brought in so generally speaking a student who's paraplegic will have more limited options for which school they attend. And in the specific case of profoundly deaf children it varies; in a big city there might be enough deaf or otherwise non-verbal students to warrant setting up a specialist school where every class takes place in BSL, whereas in areas where there's only one or two such children for the whole county the school district just provide an interpreter. Quality of educational outcomes tends to vary somewhat depending on the availability of funding and the quality of the school's senior staff, but by and large they at least make an effort.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by LaCroix » 2018-02-01 10:18am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-01-31 06:37pm
Thank you two both.

Re lip-reading: If I live there long enough, I can probably get lip-reading down in the local accent. As long as they're speaking English, anyway. Any other language, probably not. Given time though I can probably learn the written language well enough, as long as I have a decent amount of immersion. Obviously in the UK this wouldn't be a problem. Outside of the Anglosphere though... oof. Give it time and effort (and a decent vocabulary/grammar book)...
You're welcome. In German speaking nations, you might have it easier, in a way, for most (at least everyone under 40, for sure) of us do speak a reasonably good english from school, and in an american-ish accent (influenced by hollywood and the internet). The language is not too hard to learn, either. (if you are ignoring the finer points, but half the long-time immmigrants do not use proper articles, either, and we are used to it)
That does bring up a question which I suppose I should have put in the OP-- how -common- is it to encounter disabled people? If US numbers are any indication only about .4% of the population is deaf, half of which are senior citizens and thus the deafness is due to advanced age rather than a lifetime condition so they don't really count, bringing it down to .2%. Which I guess is a pretty tiny proportion. I'm assuming that in most Western countries at least, they don't get packed off to residential homes or something like that. Are they educated separately, or is there any effort to integrate them into the school system, for example?
Actually, it's rather common in Austria. We do have extensive protection laws, 99% of our very well-built public transport is acessible for handicapped, along with pretty much any public building.

Meeting handicapped in puiblic is quite common, for we do have a policy of integration into "normaI" life for all who are able to. Schools, work... I know for a fact that at least 3 mentally handicapped and about a dozen (various degrees of) deaf people live/work in a few blocks around my workplace. For hearing disabilities, we do have about 20% with problems (I'm one of them, with pretty much just one functional ear) and up to 1.5% wearing aids, and about 0.3% absolutely deaf.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-02-01 11:59am

Finland has at least in theory the same type of directives as USA when it comes to disability acommodation, in practice depends on the location. here's a link to KELA the govermental organization that handles such things, it can probably explain the things you want to know better then I ever could. Though Obviously there's gonna be language barrier, though most fins of my generation or younger speak english just fine.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by The_Saint » 2018-02-01 08:02pm

You'd be welcome in Australia.

We do have our own sign language, AUSLAN that is an offshoot of British sign language but like any good spoken language it borrows from others like Irish Sign Language and American Sign Language.
It is a right in a Australia to not be discriminated against because of a disability and there are various laws covering this. Access to provisions for deaf, blind and mobility issues are fairly standard and common Australia wide. A few years ago the government put in place a "National Disability Insurance Scheme", this is still rolling out across Australia to replace a range of assistance packages for those with disabilities and is intended to be a total support package, providing funds and services for the lifetime of the individual.

Coming across people with a disability is .... well, I wouldn't say common because they're a small portion of the community and the general guidelines are for integration so for someone who is deaf they could go about their life with majority of passers-by unaware of a difference ... so possibly "common but unobtrusive".

Education for those with a disability is along the lines of integration with the general student body although there are specialist schools for those who cannot function (supported) within a normal school environment.
One of my jobs is within the education system working with students with disabilities so I can answer questions about that easily or further details about disability support in Australia a little more roughly.
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-02 01:31pm

Thanks, but I'm not sure about Australia atm, mostly due to distance. That, and your politics are a little too close to where I'm coming from at the moment :P though granted UK has the same problem as well... makes Canada a more attractive option, though I'm allergic to cold!
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Re: Disability Accommodations in Your Country?

Post by Jub » 2018-02-03 05:08am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-02-02 01:31pm
Thanks, but I'm not sure about Australia atm, mostly due to distance. That, and your politics are a little too close to where I'm coming from at the moment :P though granted UK has the same problem as well... makes Canada a more attractive option, though I'm allergic to cold!
For Canada, you might want to check out Vancouver or the Okanagan Valley if avoiding cold is your goal.

Vancouver rarely goes below freezing even in the dead of winter, has very solid transit, and as a major city should have all the usual accommodations for deaf individuals. Vancouver has a ton to do, heaps of natural beauty, and as many places to eat as a person could wish for. The biggest drawbacks are the west coast rain, high cost of living, and the awful housing market.

Kelowna (the largest city in the Okanagan) gets colder in the winter, but has far nicer weather for the other three seasons, is gorgeous with beautiful mountains, loads of forests and parks, and a large calm lake to swim in. It also has many local orchards and wineries if that is your area of interests. Drawbacks are middling to poor transit compared to other larger cities, colder winters, and high cost of living (though less of an issue than Vancouver).

I've lived in both (though only around a year and a half in Vancouver) so feel free to ask about any other details you might want to know. If I don't know them off hand I can easily find answers for you.

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