Another year has passed – the next one from the last twenty – without any reforms, reasonable changes nor even any intentions for such in the disability sphere.

The election campaign created negative attitude towards the disabled people because – you see – there were so many “fake invalids”. Many fighters against that “crooked” phenomenon grew luxuriant. Of course, there is not such a phenomenon and they got busy to fight other “monstrosities” but in no way the corruption as a whole, much less in the disability policies which are made – under the law – together with the “nationally represented organizations of the disabled people”. What’s more, the ministry which is responsible under the program “Development of the human resources” started a special procedure for the nationally represented organizations of the disabled people – and for nobody else – for making researches, campaigns and other socially beneficial things at the cost of 8 (eight) million levs, but not instead of the state subsidy of nearly 5 (five) millions for the same organizations but plus it. And all that in the name of the disabled electorate!

And the situation of that electorate remains the same ugly and miserable. 

In the beginning of the year the parents of the children with severe disabilities got the “sweet” 930 levs monthly and they kept the protests. In some cases, the “integration allowance” was more that the previous allowances but on little. In other cases – the financial support was found to be lowered because the parents stopped receiving some little money for “personal assistant” no matter that mom should be a mom and not an assistant. Something more – the moment the child becomes 18 years old, the money stops, though nothing in the living and the everyday round of the family has changed – the young man or the young lady have remained a child without education, without any professional skills, without skills for self-handling of basic life situations. The politics likely did not understand and the continued to not understand that except money the people needed accessible environment and transportation, wheelchairs and other technical aids of quality; they need real personal assistance according the European model

From then on, elections have dropped, complicated party “negotiations” – rather bargains – even more complicated forming of the new government … And yet they thought of “fake invalids”, though there were not any. The only true thing in that story is not the diagnosis, but the cause of the disease – the TEMCs. The treatment, so far in a project: we make two commissions – one will evaluate the type and extent of the disability and the other one – the working capacity. The authors of this proposal, the politicians and their advisers, seem to have forgotten to read the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and have also forgotten that Bulgaria has ratified the quoted international document. May they be forgiven – it was a long time ago and since nothing different has happened, why waste time and read boring legal texts. Otherwise, instead of one TEMC – the reason for the NII being drained by unscrupulous people – now there will be one more! Forgive me for not understanding the logic, but the burned-out circuit board is not in my computer. 

Let me continue with my memories of the past year: The National Council for Integration of Disabled People – an advisory body to the Council of Ministers – discussed and voted on the decision of the Sofia Municipality to repeal something discussed and adopted only a year earlier. The measure in question was so meaningful and promising that it barely survived a year. Another topic is that there is no debate in this ‘body’, no questions are asked; just thanks and bragging – most of the time totally undeserved.

Later in the year, a Plan for Long-Term Care, developed by the government to implement the Long-Term Care Strategy, was voted, which – in the 21st Century! – is talking about “durably chained to bed” people. Both documents – as well as countless other disability strategies – deal frivolously with the concept of “independent living” without making clear what the writers of these documents understand by the term “independent living.” The personal assistant in Bulgarian is neither “personal” nor “assistant”. This is a state-funded activity that provides low-paying jobs to unskilled unemployed or provides money to low-income families who have disabled people. In other words, this repugnant service deepens the dependence on the family or the service provider and in no way leads to empowerment of the disabled person to have an independent living.

What the disability policy needs is finally getting it going – so far, our state is content with an archaic type of social policy, reduced to miserable aid equally for everyone, poor quality care and complete isolation in a parallel system of special schools and individual training programs, sheltered, transitional and other housing, day care centers, and any institutions that are marketed to Europe as instruments for deinstitutionalization and do nothing more than institutional care. It costs a lot of money and in the next 2018 it will cost even more. And not because there will be new approaches and practices, but to provide “more of the same.”

 Thus, another 365 days of the otherwise short human life flowed between our fingers. Nothing predicts change and the next 365 days will expire in the same way if we do not mobilize and start demanding a radical change regardless of the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Council.

 Merry Christmas and Happy 2018 New Year!