It is natural for us to live alongside each other

Annual reception held by the Disability Commissioner It is natural for us to live alongside each other

“It is absolutely natural that we all belong together, whether with or without a disability, and that’s something we should learn as early as possible,” Federal Chancellor Merkel stressed at the annual reception held by the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities, Jürgen Dusel. The motto of the reception was: “Democracy needs inclusion”.

Photo showing Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel

Federal Chancellor Merkel at the annual reception of the Disability Commissioner.

Photo: Federal Government/Kugler

“People with disabilities should be fully involved from the very beginning,” said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at the annual reception held by the Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities, Jürgen Dusel. “They should go to the same schools and use the same recreational facilities.” Pursuing common paths in later years would then be more natural, said Merkel.

Employment of people with disabilities

Participation in working life was also a key issue, she said. There had been progress in the employment of people with disabilities, she noted, but the pandemic had caused setbacks. For this reason, it was crucial to continue to encourage employers not to miss out on the talent and capabilities of people with disabilities, she said, adding that it was important to facilitate the transition from a sheltered workshop situation to the primary labour market.

The Federal Chancellor noted that the opportunity of a job at a workshop in a protected and familiar environment was important to many employees, but earnings were low and often failed to reflect workers’ productivity. “For this reason we should reconsider workshop wage levels and remove the current cap on the work promotion allowance.”

At the end of her speech, the Federal Chancellor thanked the Commissioner, Jürgen Dusel, for his enormous commitment – especially in connection with assistance in hospitals. He had encouraged policymakers to find a solution that promoted inclusion, she said.

Advancing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Disability Commissioner said that the current legislative period had seen some key accomplishments. These included the doubling of the income tax allowance for disabled persons, the passing of the Relief for Relatives Act, more barrier-free information, and also the legislation on assistance in hospitals, which will go through its final stage of deliberation in the Bundesrat in September, said Dusel.

Nonetheless, he said, the pandemic showed that the needs of people with disabilities were not always taken into account. For this reason he called for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to be consistently advanced in the new legislative period.

Due to the pandemic, the annual reception held by the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities was streamed live from eWerk Berlin. The event was attended by more than 300 guests from politics, civil society and academia, including representatives of disability associations and self-advocacy organisations, as well as members of the Bundestag.

The Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities is appointed by the Federal Cabinet for the duration of one legislative period. It is the Commissioner’s responsibility to ensure that the Federal Government provides equal living conditions for persons with and without disabilities in all areas of social life. Within the Federal Government, the Commissioner influences political decisions and plays an active part in the legislative and regulatory process. The Federal Ministries involve the Commissioner in all major projects that relate to or affect the integration of persons with disabilities.