A step forward in the right direction

Reflecting on the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' efforts to protect and empower disabled Individuals.

As a young woman with a physical disability living in a world that often overlooks my needs, the annual report presented by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for 2023 offers a mixture of hope and a call to action.

The report, presented by Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability, Rhoda Garland, to Julia Farrugia Portelli, Minister for Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, reveals significant strides in protecting the rights and enhancing the lives of disabled individuals in Malta, yet underscores the ongoing challenges we face.

One of the most notable outcomes is the CRPD’s crackdown on the misuse of Blue Badges. In 2023 alone, the Commission confiscated 123 counterfeit badges and collected 136 badges that were being used illegally. For many of us, these badges are more than just a parking permit — they are a lifeline, providing critical access to the spaces we need to navigate our daily lives. The abuse of these badges by those who do not need them not only undermines their purpose but also diminishes the respect for our community. The CRPD’s diligent enforcement of these regulations is a commendable step towards ensuring that the rights of disabled individuals are respected and upheld.

The report also highlights the growing number of people registering with the CRPD, totaling 27,091 by the end of December 2023. This increase in registration is significant as it represents a broad spectrum of disabilities:

  • 20,978 with physical disabilities
  • 4,387 with intellectual disabilities
  • 3,746 with psycho-social disabilities
  • 2,775 who are deaf
  • 1,878 who are visually impaired

These numbers reflect our diverse community and the varied needs that must be addressed to ensure inclusivity.

A particularly heartening aspect of the report is the 20% decrease in complaints about lack of accessibility compared to the previous year. While this indicates progress, it also reminds us that accessibility remains a critical issue. The decline in complaints suggests that efforts to improve physical and digital accessibility are bearing fruit, but the goal of full accessibility is still distant.

The CRPD’s initiatives extend beyond enforcement and registration. In 2023, they trained approximately 7,100 individuals in both public and private sectors, aiming to enhance awareness and understanding of the rights of disabled persons. This training is vital for fostering a more inclusive society where the rights and needs of disabled individuals are recognised and respected.

Furthermore, the Commission’s commitment to deinstitutionalisation represents a forward-thinking approach to disability rights. Organising conferences and promoting awareness campaigns are crucial steps towards this goal. Living independently in the community, with adequate support, is a dream for many disabled individuals. The CRPD’s research on this subject will lay the foundation for Malta’s deinstitutionalisation strategy, potentially transforming lives by providing opportunities for independence and community integration.

Cautious optimism

However, despite these advancements, the report also highlights ongoing issues, particularly in the education sector, employment, and services. Complaints in these areas indicate that significant work remains to be done to ensure equal opportunities and rights for disabled individuals.
In reflecting on the CRPD’s 2023 report, I am filled with cautious optimism. The Commission’s efforts to enforce regulations, improve accessibility, and promote independent living are steps in the right direction. Yet, it is clear that our journey towards full inclusion and equality is far from complete.
I remain hopeful and determined, inspired by the progress made and ready to advocate for the continued advancement of our rights. Together, we can build a society where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can thrive.

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