Although Bosnia and Herzegovina ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the Optional Protocol on 12 March 2010, and the Convention entered into force on 11 April 2010, the overall position of persons with disabilities in Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is extremely unfavorable. Ratification of the mentioned Convention in practice means that the state is obliged to ensure equal rights and opportunities for persons with disabilities to be included in all spheres of social life.
Despite the undertaken obligations of the state, in our society there is still a lack of resources in institutions, discrimination, stigmatization of persons with disabilities in education, and especially in employment because, although institutions and companies are required to employ one person with disabilities for a certain number of workers, decide to set aside the minimum funds prescribed by law as compensation for not having a disabled employee.
Education and training are also areas where the rights of PWDs are not respected in accordance with the existing legislative framework. Although existing laws and legal provisions contain and emphasize the right to education for all under the same conditions, the real picture is different. The difficulties and obstacles faced by PWDs are primarily architectural, urban and informative, then unequal access to educational institutions, prejudices, etc. In practice, although every parent can enroll a child with a disability in a regular school by law, in most cases parents still opt for a special school due to insufficient number of teaching assistants or inadequate access and commitment to such children by educators.
People with disabilities (PWDs) are the social group most severely affected by poverty and unemployment. It is estimated that 10% of the BiH population suffers from some form of physical, sensory, developmental or mental disability. The PWD population is most often exposed to multiple marginalization and discrimination, and its members are excluded on several grounds - primarily due to disability, then gender, age, ethnicity and others.
Access to information is another difficult and serious obstacle and difficulty for people with disabilities, as most sources of information are not accessible to them due to physical barriers or barriers they encounter due to various sensory impairments.
The overall attitude towards people with disabilities is not in line with European standards, which do not measure disability but the remaining working abilities (social model and not medical), which directly supports their employment.
Another big problem in our country regarding persons with disabilities is that in Bosnia and Herzegovina there is discrimination of persons with disabilities on the basis of disability, which means that the rights, especially personal incomes of war invalids in relation to civilian invalids are not even half equalized. Within the social model of disability, the emphasis is on the quality of life of people with disabilities and ways to improve this quality. Continuous promotion of the rights of people with disabilities is very important, especially to break down prejudices or barriers in people's minds, especially in rural areas. Recently, there has been a tendency to increase interest in legal protection and integration into society of persons with physical, sensory or mental impairments. This is largely due to non-governmental organizations working to improve the situation and protect the rights of persons with disabilities through projects whose international donors favor these or related topics.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of individuals and organizations, our country is still very far from applying in practice what is signed on paper. People with disabilities who have completed high school or college are still very rarely or almost never employed, most cultural and public institutions are still not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities due to the lack of wheelchair access or elevator, a small number of audible traffic lights exist only in larger cities, day care centers for people with intellectual disabilities are not systematically addressed and function thanks to the enthusiasm of parents associated with NGOs and do not have permanent sources of funding, personal assistance is underdeveloped and, finally, personal incomes of people with disabilities are very low and the same are on the brink of poverty, which overall leads to apathy, depression and feelings of uselessness in society.
Author : Slađana Miljević, LDA Prijedor