On November 7th, 2019, at the Peroto (The Feather) Literary Club, we announced the launch of our joint initiative with the Department of Political Science at Sofia University, the Alpha Research Sociological Agency, and the Equal Partnership Foundation. The project is called “Inclusion and Disabilities” and is funded by the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria.
Disability policies in Bulgaria are made conjectural and populist without analysis and research of their effectiveness and efficiency and far from the principles and values of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Bulgaria in 2012. Thus, completely new legislation, drafted last calendar year under the motto “the system kills us” and pressured from parents of children with disabilities, preserves the killer system and bears the flaws of the previous law – a leading principle in medical evaluation, wasting money, limited access to technology, relatives-assistants and so on.
The Inclusion and Disabilities project aims to generate a methodology for monitoring disability policies that provide – in an objective and scientifically sound way – evidence of the appropriateness of certain policies. The development of a series of analyzes will show the need for deep reforms in the social field, which will be the basis for decision-making formulation of public policies, and a debate on the degree of inclusion of people with disabilities in society.
The set of activities – sociological research, analysis of empirical data, the publication of reports, public events, meetings with politicians and administrations – are aimed at changing attitudes and reaching a public consensus on reforms in disability policies. In the course of the work, an index for the inclusion of people with disabilities will be developed, which will be tested and implemented systematically in the future, so that the project will be sustainable after both years of planned activities.
An additional effect of the project’s implementation will be the creation of a research community equipped with tools for monitoring disability policies aimed at the social inclusion of people with disabilities. Moreover, we expect a new academic discipline to be formed in the political sciences – disability policies, subordinate to human rights, civic participation, and the rule of law. As it turned out, the project is a joint effort of a coalition of two non-governmental organizations of people with disabilities, Sofia University, and a private sociological agency. This organizational architecture – in itself – is an example of how work should be done in the field of disability, combining the interests of people with disabilities, the scientific potential of the academic community, and the entrepreneurial spirit of business.