TURKISH DISABILITY POLICY
establish the existing problems in Turkish social policy on the axis of Turkish Disability Act (TDA). According to Turkey Disability Survey (2002) which covered 12,29 % of total population, nearly 10 years process of disability act intersects with EU integration of Turkey. Although Turkey legally drew away from its conventional social policy in this process, general consuetudinary structure was sustained in institutions and implementations.
Social policy of Turkey has a very traditional structure that degrades all social problems into poverty and that uses only social aids as a solution. Nowadays, basic global facts such as ageing and disability are also handled and degraded within this frame. On the other hand, TDA has been drawn away from its context and entity in parallel with this degradation process.
Both globalization and European Union has recently started to encourage Turkey to circumvent its conventional structure but controversially, some problems stemming from globalization and EU prevent the change in Turkey take place appropriately and in time. While struggling with this dilemma on the one hand, Turkey makes and internalises necessary arrangements on the other hand. This situation can not be named as resistance to EU but as a necessity resulting from the interaction between sociology and modernity. Being one of the products of Western tradition, modernity undergoes a change in a way while it develops in other countries (Aysoy, 2008 b, p. 3). When the subject is disability, this is more deep-seated and gets a wider dimension. The facts that Turkey does not have certain implementations and institutions such as welfare states do, the conception of social state and globalisation have became associated with some problems and that EU has a disability strategy instead of a disability policy urges Turkey to establish and follow his own attitude.
Constructing a meaningful disability policy can be possible for Turkey only when he can succeed in constructing a meaningful social policy. In this context, the issue can be grounded with aforementioned problems stemming from EU and globalisation. Globalisation has put disability in a global context and attributed the quality of “standard” to existing implementations. This situation not only means that certain facts handled at national level can be carried to a global platform, but also includes the connotation that assessment of some certain social facts trivialises local/social context. Instead of a social policy dealing with social problems, Turkey is apt to adopt schemes which are internationally affective in shaping social policy. Regardless the type and essence of social problems; women, elder people or persons with disabilities (PwD’s) all face definite problems in some general categories such as discrimination, employment and social security.
When it is possible to utter incontestable solutions to social problems, there is also the possibility to reject all these solutions. However, it is the similarity of the problems which helps evaluating “disadvantaged groups” globally. In this respect, globalisation supports a world-wide platform on which positive solutions to social problems can be found.
While globalisation becomes a process which limits/designates the borders of social state, all disadvantaged groups, particularly persons with disabilities, become challenging issues for social policy. Scrutinising social policy in line with global conditions both as a structure including certain standards and as a limited area in terms of previous possibilities makes certain facts meaningful to be major and ascendant issues of today.
On the other hand, disability is a phenomenon which surrounds all areas about human beings. Hence, it should be analysed in a vast number of areas. As in appreciation of each social event, disability is also a social fact whose separate features or problems become evident only when it is seen through different windows such as various disciplines, approaches, policies etc.
It is indisputable that persons with disabilities once had and still have serious problems and the simplest and the most common daily life activities or social events are indeed inaccessible luxuries for persons with disabilities. Again, it is incontestable that the reality of disability is not to be comprehended without taking persons with disabilities into account. The most remarkable motto of disability movement of today; “Nothing About Us Without Us” is an indicator which emphasises that all historical initiatives on disability are affectless and even improper (Aysoy, 2004).
According to Giddens; being one of the most significant projects of Turkey, European Union should be assessed as both a reaction to globalisation and at the same time embodiment of it. European Union was established in a context which is completely different from today’s context and it has evolved in parallel with globalisation. Turkey’s EU project that can be defined as a solution to problems springing from globalisation stands for continuous change. Furthermore, globalisation changes the role and the nature of national states. Again according to Giddens, EU will never have the potential to be the same as a super national state. Therefore, for Turkey, EU means body of world-wide ideals that cover an increase in welfare level, protection of individual rights and full recognition of democratical rights (Giddens, 2000).
Policies of Turkey have to assess the globalisation process properly and give heed not to deal with matters only in accordance with EU relations. However, necessary attention should be given to EU in a multi-level structure meanwhile. Using the concept of “market” in substitution for “economy” and “economy” for “society” in a sociological context determines our attitude towards reality. Turkey has never experienced social state (welfare state) practices as was seen in Western countries formerly. This disparity brings many problems for Turkey in his integration with EU and all of them lead to many others that arise from EU aquis and whose solution necessitates different mechanism. Within this frame, EU process of Turkey is characteristically far from being oversimplified to harmonisation with EU aquis (Aysoy, 2008 a).
In EU Project, the key point of discussions over social policy and welfare state is civil rights including social rights which reveal the questions on state’s commitment to fulfil social needs. Now it seems that European welfare states which once kept closer to the perception of social rights oriented citizenship have recently had the attitude to step back in legalising these rights in order to provide them as social services. While some part of social services is being privatised, the duration or scope of some services are being limited. Social inclusion and solidarity in market, family and welfare state have been getting market oriented in all these countries. Although there are limited number of provisions on social solidarity, significance of social cohesion is emphasized in Treaty of Rome (Aysoy, 2008 a).
As a result of recent policies, social cohesion gains more importance and initiations on the issue increase day by day. In Commission’s white book “European Social Policy; Towards Full Participation” published in 1994, some values on the scope of European social model were presented (EC, 1994). In the white book; democracy, human rights, market economy, union rights such as free collective bargaining, equality of opportunities, social welfare and solidarity were explained to be the common values of European social model and it was stressed that all these were not only costs but also important factors in sustaining the competition. Both collective agreements and legal arrangements were accepted to be basic instruments and five social policy areas of EU, namely; employment and working conditions, free movement of workforce, equality of opportunities, social protection and public health were established. However, in Amsterdam Treaty, social charter was covered, social policies was made an integral part of EC Treaty and some new areas such as social exclusion and discrimination was included in social policies through some changes in social provisions.
In this context, it can be said that EU Project of Turkey is based upon a “social model” which falls under “Social Europe” and this model covers a series of programs such as combating poverty and discrimination, social inclusion, social exclusion and social cohesion. The concerned programs have recently been a concern for Turkey.
Nevertheless, EU process of Turkey can be defined as a formal harmonisation with social policy instruments of EU. Turkish social policy is based on an approach different from the one providing basis for the social model of EU and it reserves differences with regards to social structure. Being outlined by urban and rural areas, social structure of Turkey characteristically differs from the societies of developed countries. The most outstanding difference of disability is predicated on this sociological axis. On the other hand, the most affective factors which shape social structure of Turkey are traditions (Aysoy, 2008 b). From political spheres to bureaucracy, Traditional structures and affects are evident in many areas. This approach does not include subjects such as discrimination or equality of opportunities. Cultural structure of Turkey prescribes that children with disabilities are given to their parents as a punishment by the providence. Secondly, there are some problems springing from the perception of traditions in terms of religion. This perception puts forward the idea that persons with disabilities come into existence just to make others be thankful to their own situation. This kind of an understanding, which regards persons with disabilities only as instruments to make people conscious, naturally does not give heed to responsibilities against disability. That is why Turkey has never been able to establish serious social service institutions. The most important context arising from this understanding is the charity-oriented approach which degrades or limits disability within the borders of poverty. Limitation of social problems barely or principally with the issue of poverty gives way to major problems in Turkey. Similarly, accentuation of a strong family structure in any event of any social problem by the government is the most recognizable factor confining the lines of vision which have the potential to overcome such problems.
In any case, profile of disability in Turkey is the most outstanding indicator of the need to go beyond the abovementioned approaches and context. According to Turkey Disability Survey (2002); persons with disabilities comprise 12,29 % of total population of Turkey and this proportion is equal to approximately 10 million people. Contrary to common belief, the survey statistics indicate that reasons of disability are not affiliated with inborn defects but with diseases and/or accidents. Except for people with chronic illnesses, most of persons with disabilities; 70% of orthopedically disabled, 75% of visually disabled, 65% of hearing disabled and 50% of mentally disabled have adventitious disabilities. Secondly, ageing is identified to be one of the most significant reasons of disability and most of people with chronic illnesses are old. These numbers constitutes the basis and main themes of TDA.
The idea of a disability act was brought forward by NGO’s in 1990’s and I. Disability Council held in 1999 paved the way to the enactment of TDA. This process proved that TDA was the inevitable outcome of a need for a disability act. The preparations for TDA were concluded in 2004 and it went into effect in 2005.
TDA, consisting of 52 articles, has two chapters; first chapter constitutes the framework with 16 non-amendable articles and the second chapter includes 36 amendable articles. First chapter deals with the parameters of disability policy such as social rights, employment, education, care services, accessibility and has the function of bringing a new perspective to public administration. The second chapter eliminates the possible discriminative provisions of law in the legislation.
Turkish Disability Act has not only changed the definitions in the legislation, but also brought new ones in new areas. These new definitions and categories took place in the “Definitions” part of the law. In TDA, persons who have a disability in the ratio of 40% are regarded as persons with disabilities. Besides, persons with disabilities are classified in two categories, namely; persons with severe disabilities and other PwD’s. In accordance with this distinction, severe disability is a category about care dependency.
When assessed as a whole, design is part of disability synthesis and a product of synthesis approach. There are two valid approaches in the world except for the conventional approach; medical and social models. These are two contrast approaches which shape disability policies. Emphasising the social axis and handicaps, social model is the strongest baseline of disability movement. The first theorem of social model is that disability is a social structure and a social concept. Disability is built on individual or collective ideas of non-disabled people. Furthermore, it finds expression in hostile social attitudes or stigmatisation of persons with disabilities in communities or in bilateral relations. Briefly, the very first theorem is that disability is not a result of physical impairments but of social limitations. These limitations develop in line with; difficulties in entering buildings (lack of lifts or access ramps for PwD’s), argumentative ideas on mind and social competencies (such as PwD’s are fools and do not have the capability to care for themselves), usage of sign language by a very limited number of people in the society, lack of braille printed materials for visually impaired people or general hostile attitudes towards people who have invisible disabilities such as mental impairments.
The second model by which social model renews itself is medical model. The focus point of medical model is physical and biological conditions of persons with disabilities. Additionally, this model regards disability as a temporary condition that can be or needs to be fixed into a “normal” position. In other words, medical model accepts a person with a disability just as a person with an illness like measles. As a result, it is expected from the disabled to behave accordingly to this attributed role.
In Turkey, medical model is used for disability issues and indeed social model is much more meaningful when compared to it. It is not surprising that one of the classification systems developed by World Health Organisation, ICF, which can be regarded as a synthesis model has come into use in Turkey through Turkish Disability Act.
TDA will not only establish the implementations for persons with disabilities, but will also carve out the activities of NGO’s, voluntary agencies and families of persons with disabilities. TDA gives priority to services which can be provided to PwD’s in their homes or usual living places instead of the ones provided in institutions or in public administrations. This approach has necessitated the reconstruction of social service institutions. Before the enactment of TDA, there was a general institutionalisation under public administrations and the social services were provided through public institutions. However, TDA has built up a sound infrastructure to alter this institutional structuring whose problems can be seen even from cross border.
In the General Principles of TDA, the issues related to combating discrimination are emphasised and public perspective on disability is laid down. The provisions of this part are reflected in following amendments through the regulations in Criminal Code.
One of the most crucial issues covered by TDA is employment. Employment takes an important place among the leading problems faced by persons with disabilities in Turkey. Employment quota system is the main implementation for employment of PwD’s in Turkey. Unfortunately, this employment policy which proved to be efficient in private sector is not thriving in public sector. Moreover, persons with severe disabilities are not covered in the process of employment by use of this model. In this context, TDA envisages establishment of sheltered workshops and vocational rehabilitation centres in Turkey.
The most significant issue handled in Turkish Disability Act is care services. General Directorate of Social Services, who formerly provided care services to a limited number of PwD’s in need of nursing, has become obligant to provide service to persons with severe disabilities too. Besides, TDA gives the assurance of provision of care services to persons with disabilities in long term, as a response to anxiety of “what will happen to my child when I die?” which has primary importance for the parents with a disabled child. By means of this adjustment, it is aimed to facilitate the establishment and increase of special care centres in Turkey. Separately, a period of 7 years has been given to public bodies for the execution of necessary measures in terms of accessibility. Furthermore, creation of Turkish Sign Language is another significant provision of TDA.
On the other hand, TDA has some deficiencies and the sharpest of them is the lack of an provisions on the establishment of an equality institution which would form the basis for combating disability discrimination. Secondly, provisions on employment have not yet gained function due to lack of a budget. The data on what has been done in concern with care services constitutes the most important data supporting the main thesis of this article. The budget drawn up for care services has been transformed to care allowance for the parents who have a disabled child. There is a great lack of experts and information in this area in Turkey. If the envisaged infrastructure of care services can not be built up, ageing of the society will lead to a failure in institutionalisation of care services in the future. Because, social care services cover old people together with PwD’s. Present condition indicates that TDA exists in text but does not function properly.
Consequently, main problems of Turkey in the area of disability can be summarised as follows;
First; combating discrimination is the most important strategy in the area of disability, but disability is only one of the main components of discrimination. Combating discrimination appeared in a different context in Western countries and has covered disability recently. Fighting against racism and gender discrimination has already had a history in West. Although achievements have been gained in combating gender discrimination up to now, there is still a lot to do for faith based discrimination. This situation underlines that discrimination can only be overcome in Turkey by means of a comprehensive approach.
Secondly; although employment is the most important stage of full participation to society, it came to a deadlock in Turkey. Policies based on “quota and fine” system can not go beyond limitedness. Therefore, it is urgent and inevitable to put into practice alternative models.
Thirdly; there is an awareness problem in the issue of ageing in Turkey. Discourses on having a young population conditions negligence of the old. The data gathered by General Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs reveal impressive facts; there are 33.000 people over the age of 100 and 215.000 people between the ages of 95-100. When compared to 65 years of age which is accepted to be the threshold for the old, these numbers bring light to the dimensions of the situation. There are 5,3 million people over 65 years of age. Due to the facts that disability is one of the major reasons of disability and that the population of Turkey tends to have more people with disabilities in the future, this issue gains more importance each day. On the other hand, old age is also a reason of poverty in Turkey. This is not related only with social security. Retirees experience gradual loss of life quality as well as age based discrimination.
Fourthly; immigration is the most important fact of social area. Existing problems of rural and urban areas together with high numbers of immigrants in total population, brings a new dimension to what is to be done in social area. Data presented by TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute) shows that urban population will have increased in the ration of 8% by the year of 2010. On the other hand rural population is 30 million at present. Consequently, immigration should be regarded as a very important factor for disability and ageing.
In this context, the reason why an efficient social policy can not be institutionalised can be based upon the argument of Turkey’s not having a social policy appropriate to his own social model. In other words, Turkey needs a much more comprehensive social model instead of a conventional one.
The present understanding of society in Turkey deepens poverty and strengthens the culture of impoverishment. Social problems occurring in relation with discrimination also spring from this understanding. Assessing the society as a homogeneous structure with poverty, disability and ageing, instead of a cosmopolitan structure, this approach can offer only social aids as a solution.
Aysoy, M. (2004), Avrupa Birliği Sürecinde Özürlüler Politikası, Açı Kitaplar, İstanbul.
(2008 a), Hayatı Paylaşmak İçin Engel Çok, Açı Kitaplar, İstanbul
(2008 b), Yapılaşma Teorisinde Gelenek Fenomeni, Maya Yayınları, Ankara.
Barnes, Colin, Geof Mercer and Tom Shakespeare. (1999). Exploring Disability: A Sociological Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Brisenden, S,(1990) İndependent Living: A Case of Human Rigths’, in R. Rieser and M.Mason, eds., Disability Equality in the Classroom: A Human Rigths Issue, London: Inner London Education Authority.
Charlton, James I. 1998. Nothing About Us Without Us. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
Crewe, Nancy M. and Arthur Harkins. (1983). “The Future of Independent Living.” Pp. 327-343 in Independent Living for Physically Disabled People, edited by Nancy Crewe, Irving Kenneth Zola and Associates. San Francisco, Washington, London: Jossey- Bass.
Giddens, A. (1998), Modernliği Anlamlandırmak, Alfa Yayınları
(2000) Üçüncü Yol, Alfa Yayınları, İstanbul
Türkiye Özürlüler Araştırması (2002), Devlet İstatistik Enstitüsü
TURKEY DISABILITY ACT (LAW ON DISABLED PEOPLE AND ON MAKING MENDMENTS IN SOME LAWS AND DECREE LAWS) Law No : 5378, Date of Adoption: 1.7.2005, Date of Effect: 7.7.2005
 Charlton, James I. 1998. Nothing About Us Without Us. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
 40 % of Turkish population still live in villages.
 In terms of methodology, impairment approach was used in the definition, classification and design questions in Turkey Disability Survey in 2002.
 Turkey Disability Act (Law on Disabled People and on Making Amendments In Some Laws and Decree Laws) Law No : 5378, Date Of Adoption: 01.07.2005, Date Of Effect: 07.07.2005
 Article 2- This law covers the disabled people, their families, the establishments and organisations serving providing service to disabled people and other concerned ones.
 Article 3- While implementing this law the definitions of some terms are as follows;
a) Disabled: the person who has difficulties in adapting to the social life and in meeting daily needs due to the loss of physical, mental, psychological, sensory and social capabilities at various levels by birth or by any reason thereafter and who therefore need protection, care, rehabilitation, consultancy and support services.
b) Disability criteria: The criteria which is prepared on the basis of the international basic criteria and which is revised when deemed necessary.
c) Person with mild disability: the person who is defined as slightly disabled according to the disability criteria.
d) Person with severe disability: The person who is defined as substantially disabled according to the disability criteria.
e) Care dependent disabled person: the person, among those documented by an official health council report as substantially disabled according to the disability classification, who is so impaired that he/she cannot maintain his/her life without the assistance and care of others because he/she is not able to substantially perform the habitual and repetitive requirements of the daily life.
f) Sheltered workshops: the workplace with technical and financial support from the State and the working conditions of which is specially arranged by the State in order to create professional rehabilitation and employment for the disabled people who are difficult to be integrated to the normal labour market.
g) Sheltered workshop status: the condition of having a number of disabled employees at a ratio determined by the regulation or of possessing the requirements in order to be granted with the technical and financial assistance provided to the sheltered workshop.
h) Rehabilitation: totality of protective, medical, professional, educational, recreational and physico-social services which are rendered in order to eliminate a disability by birth or occurred thereafter by any reason or to reduce the effects of disability to a minimum level, in order for the disabled to be sufficient to himself/herself and to society in his/her work and social life and to integrate with the society by enabling him/her to acquire the highest level of abilities he/she can achieve again in the fields of physical, mental, psychological, social, professional and economical usefulness and in order to take all measures against discrimination.
i) Classification: work to develop a common standard and framework for the definition of the function and inadequacy of the human body as an important health indicator.
 Article 1- The objective of this Law is to prevent disability, to enable the disabled people to join the society by taking measures which will provide the solution of their problems regarding health, education, rehabilitation, employment, care and social security and the removal of the obstacles they face and to make the necessary arrangements for the coordination of these services.
 Brisenden, S,(1990) İndependent Living: A Case of Human Rigths’, in R. Rieser and M.Mason, eds., Disability Equality in the Classroom: A Human Rigths Issue, London: Inner London Education Authority.
 Barnes, Colin, Geof Mercer and Tom Shakespeare. 1999. Exploring Disability: A Sociological Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
 Crewe, Nancy M. and Arthur Harkins. 1983. “The Future of Independent Living.” Pp. 327-343 in Independent Living for Physically Disabled People, edited by Nancy Crewe, Irving Kenneth Zola and Associates. San Francisco, Washington, London: Jossey- Bass.
 Article 34- The following subclause has been added to the 3rd article of the Health Services Basic Law no 3359 dated 7.5.1987. Ministry of Health is authorised to issue opening permission of the organizations to be established in by the public institutions and real and legal persons in order to produce the ancillary tools and equipment used in the rehabilitating medical services. The principles regarding the issuance of opening licence of these institutions and organizations, production and personnel standard, operation and inspection and the status of the previously opened institutions and organizations are arranged by the regulation to be issued by the Ministry of Health
 Article 4- The following principles are followed in performing the services under this Law: a) State develops social polices against all kinds of abuse of disabled people and disability on the basis of the immunity of the human honour and dignity. State doesn’t discriminate against the disabled people; fighting against discrimination is the basic principle of the policies towards the disabled people. b) The participation of the disabled people, their families and volunteer organizations are provided for the decisions to be taken in relation to disabled people. c) It is essential to protect the integrity of the family when performing the services towards the disabled people. d) It is obligatory to take the opinion of the Disabled People Administration for the arrangement of regulations by establishments and organizations towards the disabled people.
 Article 13- The rights of the disabled people to choose their profession in accordance with their skills and to obtain training on this matter cannot be restricted. It is essential that the disabled people are enabled to take advantage of the professional rehabilitation services in order to provide that they are trained in a profession they can carry out, they are enabled to acquire a profession, their economic and social welfare is secured by making them efficient. Measures to develop the job and skills of the individuals according to their individual developments and abilities in the private professional rehabilitation centres to be opened by real or legal persons, skill improvement centres and various types of sheltered workshops are taken. The concerned services can be obtained through the purchase of service by making a job and profession analysis according to the needs. The relevant methods and principles are determined by the regulation which will be jointly issued by the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and Disabled People Administration. Social and professional rehabilitation services are also provided by the municipalities. Municipalities, when they deem necessary during the provision of these services, cooperate with the people’s training and apprenticeship training centres. In the event that the rehabilitation request of the disabled person cannot be met, he/she takes the service from the nearest centre and the concerned municipality pays the amount determined in the budget instruction each year to the centre where the service is purchased.
 Provisional Article 2- The existing official buildings of the public institutions and organizations, all existing road, pavement, pedestrian crossing, open and green areas, sporting areas and similar social and cultural infrastructure areas and all kinds of structures built by the real and legal persons serving to public shall be brought to suitable condition for the accessibility of the disabled people within seven years after the date of effect of this Law.
 Article 15- The right of education of the disabled people cannot be prevented by no reason. The disabled children, youngs and adults are provided with equal education with the non-disabled people and in integrated environments by taking the special conditions and differences into consideration. Disabled People Consultancy and Coordination Centre is established in order to carry out works within the Higher Education Council on the procurement of tools and equipment, preparation of special class material, enabling the preparation of education, research and accommodation environments suitable for the disabled people in order to facilitate the education life of the disabled university students. The operation methods and principles of the Disabled People Consultancy and Coordination Centre are arranged by the regulation which is prepared jointly by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education Council and the Disabled People Administration. Turkish sign language is created by the Turkish Language Institution in order to provide the education and communication of the hearing impaired people. The methods and principles of the works for creating and implementing this system are determined by the regulation to be issued jointly by the Ministry of National Education, General Directorate for the Society of Social Services and Children Protection and Disabled People Administration under the coordination of the Turkish Language Institution. The required procedures in order to provide the production of relief, audio and electronic books, subtitled film and similar material to meet all kinds of educational and cultural needs of the disabled people are carried out jointly by the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.