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Bulgaria

A. UN Convention status

A1. Ratification or conclusion of the UN Convention

Bulgaria signed the UN CRPD on 27 September 2007 and the Optional Protocol on 28 December 2008. On 26 January 2012, the Bulgarian Parliament ratified the UN Convention.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A2. Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol

The National Assembly decided not to ratify the Optional Protocol at the same time as the Convention. The Council of Ministers adopted an updated Action Plan for Implementation of the UN CRPD (2015-2020) on 25 June 2015. According to it the Optional Protocol would be officially translated into Bulgarian in 2017 and ratified until 2020.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A3. Declarations, Reservations and Objections

No declarations or reservations have been made.

Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A4. Comprehensive review

After ratification of the Convention in 2012, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy announced that he will propose a new two-year plan for the application of the Convention within six months of ratification. Such a plan was adopted and implemented in 2013-2014. A review of the legislation and concept papers for legislative amendments were adopted to comply with Art.11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 24 and 30 of the UN CRPD. In 2015 a new five-year Action Plan for Implementation of the CRPD was adopted. It again envisages comprehensive review of the legislation and adoption of concept papers about the needed legislative amendments in compliance with the articles of the UN CRPD to be prepared until 2020.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A5. Focal point

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) was responsible for the coordination and setting up of an expert group which was supposed to elect/appoint the authority which would be responsible for coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the UNCRPD. However, such an authority has not been appointed as of April 2017. The elaboration of legislative amendments which would provide for the functions of the coordination and monitoring authority is scheduled for 2020.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A6. Coordination mechanism

A National Council for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities was established to include representatives of the state, national representative organizations of and for people with disabilities, national organizations representing employees, nationally representative organizations of employers, and the National Association of Municipalities in Republic of Bulgaria. An expert group was established in 2013 to co-ordinate implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan. However, according to the new 2015-2020 Action Plan a new expert group for appointment of coordination body was supposed to be set up in 2016. Another expert group is supposed to elaborate the coordination mechanism in 2017.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A7. Independent mechanism

Independent monitoring authority was supposed to be appointed and a mechanism to be elaborated in 2016 (according to the 2015-2020 Action Plan). As of April 2017 such an authority and a mechanism have not been identified.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

A8. Official reporting

Bulgaria's initial state party report, covering the period 2012-13, was due in April 2014 and submitted July 2014. The version appearing on the UN database is identified as an 'advance unedited version' in certified translation from Bulgarian to English.

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Update date: Tue, 2015-03-03

A9. Shadow reporting

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has prepared a shadow report which has been sent to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2017.

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Update date: Wed, 2017-08-09

B. General legal framework

B1. Anti-discrimination legislation

The Constitution of Bulgaria does not include disability as a protected ground for unequal treatment. The disability anti-discrimination framework is shaped by two major pieces of legislation: Protection from Discrimination Act (general) and the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act (specific) where all disability-specific provisions are included. The Protection from Discrimination Act passed in 2003 which came into force in January 2004 fully transposes the EU Equality Directives (43/2000/ЕС, 78/2000/ЕС, 75/117/ЕCR, 97/80/ЕC, 76/207/ЕCR) and regulates the protection of all citizens from all forms of discrimination. The law also bans discrimination on grounds of disability. Article 5 of the Protection from Discrimination Act provides that 'construction and maintenance of inaccessible environment' is direct discrimination. All subject laws (on education, on employment, on transport, on social services, on protection of child rights, on protection from domestic violence etc.) include an anti-discrimination provision, which usually has a disability reference along with all other vulnerable groups (ethnic minorities, women, elderly, etc.).

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

B2. Recognition of legal capacity

Bulgarian legislation, which regulates the issues related to legal capacity of persons, including persons with intellectual disabilities and mental problems, is still mainly based on the concept of substitute decision making. The Natural Persons and Family Act (NPFA) provides for the basic definitions of plenary and partial guardianship, the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) regulates the incapacitation court proceedings; the Family Code provides for the administrative proceeding for appointment/change of a guardian/guardianship council and their obligations and powers. Medical diagnosis is necessary for a spouse, close relative, prosecutor or anyone who has a legal interest in initiating a procedure for putting a person with intellectual disabilities or mental disorder under guardianship, which is done by the regional court. Once the status of legal incapacity is granted it is not periodically reviewed. No options for supported decision making are available yet. As a product of a working group at the Ministry of Justice which consisted of NGOs, academic and governmental representatives, a Draft Act on the Natural Persons and the Support Measures was elaborated and introduced in the Parliament by the Council of Ministers on 4 August 2016. The draft act is centred on the UNCRPD recognition of legal capacity concept and was elaborated to implement the supported decision making concept in legislation. Discussion and voting sessions at the Parliament are expected.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

B3. Accessibility of voting and elections

Bulgarian legislation has created opportunities for persons with disabilities to exercise their political rights in principle, but these opportunities are limited for persons with certain types of impairments – e.g. mental, visual and intellectual. According to Article 42 of the Constitution all persons who are 18 years of age, except those who are placed under guardianship or are serving a prison sentence, have the right to vote in central and local authority elections and to participate in public referenda. Therefore there is a prohibitive norm for persons with intellectual and mental disabilities placed under guardianship to exercise their active or passive rights to vote. Polling stations - usually school premises - are quite inaccessible despite the fact that a special 'disability' section should be located on the lowest floor and the process of registration of the disabled voters be simplified as much as possible. The new Electoral Code passed in 2011 established a mobile polling station for people with permanent disabilities which is available if the person requests it in written at least 30 days before the election day (Аrt.176). The privacy of voting is guaranteed in Art.182 of the Electoral Code by prohibiting the presence of other persons than the voter in range of 3 m. from the polling station.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

B4. Official recognition of sign language

Sign language is not officially recognised. The Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act requires national media to provide media information accessible to persons with disabilities (Art.39), but this is not implemented. Some regional broadcasting companies deliver simultaneous sign language for their mainstream news, due to private funding. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD envisages research, recognition, trainings in sign language and legal regulation of interpretation in sign language for persons with hearing disabilities to take place until 2020.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

B5. National disability strategy and action plan

In 2012 a process of updating the Strategy for Equal Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities 2008-2015 was carried out in order to reflect the novelties included in the European Disability Strategy (EDS) 2010-2020. The main goals of the updated strategy are a repetition of the goals of the previous strategies, namely: accessibility of public buildings and public and private transportation; quality day care and education for children with disabilities; quality vocational training; high school and university education for young persons with disabilities; complex medical and social rehabilitation; widening of the employment options for persons with disabilities; priority development of community-based social services for persons with disabilities; access to cultural, tourist and sport activities and designated areas for persons with disabilities, and raising awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities.
On 7 July 2016 the Council of Ministers adopted new National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) which reflects the EDS and was elaborated to reflect also the 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD. It contains six priorities – access to living environment and freedom of expression and opinion and access to information; access to inclusive education and life-long learning; access to effective quality health care services; access to employment; adequate support for community living and access to cultural, tourist and sport activities. A 2016-2018 Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) was also adopted at the end of December 2016.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

C. Accessibility

C1. Transport accessibility

Anti-discrimination legislation requires all transport - related agents (government agencies, operators, etc.) to ensure that their services are available to all citizens. In addition, the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act provides that the Ministry of Transport is responsible for elaboration of legislative acts and standards for: ensuring accessible public transport; introducing technical devices into the public space and transport facilitating mobility of persons with disabilities; ensuring special conditions for movements, parking, stay of vehicles led or transporting persons with disabilities; ensuring of non-problematic access to public transport of persons with disabilities and their accompanying dogs (Art.34).
The Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 was transposed in terms of introducing provisions ensuring accessible bus stations and sanctions for violation of this obligation in the Road Transport Act. The latter provides for effective, proportionate and preventative sanctions. The Road Traffic Act provides for the requirements of the parking card allowing its owner to park in designated places for persons with disabilities and to use facilitated access to them.
Ordinance 2 of 15 March 2002 for Transport Schemes and Public Bus Transport provides for the requirements towards municipal councils that determine the city and intercity bus lines adapted for persons with disabilities and limited mobility. According to this Ordinance, 35% of the total number of bus routes should be performed by buses adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities. The tender eligibility requirements for bus transport providers contain obligatory requirement for availability of equipment of the vehicles for transportation of persons with disabilities. In cities with population over 100,000 citizens at least one main and one additional line are performed only by buses equipped to transport persons with disabilities.
Ordinance 33 of 3 November 1999 sets the accessibility requirements for bus stations such as: availability of a platform or ramp for wheelchairs allowing access to buses; appropriate access from the street to the bus station and to the buses, in waiting rooms, ticket offices there should be at least one accessible toilet. Ordinance H-32 of 16 December 2011 for periodic technical inspection of the public transportation vehicles regulates the technical requirements for the vehicles for persons with disabilities.
Railway Administration Agency implements Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations. Regulation (EC) No 1300/2014 of 18 November 2014 on the technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility of the Union's rail system for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility is also implemented in Bulgaria. A National Plan for its implementation from December 2016 reports in detail about the numbers and locations of railway stations and stops partially accessible for persons with disabilities and those that would be adapted in the future to comply with the Regulation. Only 8 long-distance trains perform the transport of persons with disabilities on a daily basis. To benefit from the railway transport a person with disability needs to request support one day before the trip. Around 1,000 persons with disabilities a year travel in this way (while persons with physical and sensory disabilities who need support in transport are over 100,000).

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

C2. Built environment accessibility

Since 1995 two laws have required owners/investors to ensure that the built environment, especially public facilities is made accessible for disabled people. The Protection from Discrimination Act, passed in 2003, bans discrimination on the grounds of disability. Article 5 declares ‘construction and maintenance of an inaccessible environment’ to be direct discrimination, and this has allowed many physically disabled people, individuals with visual impairments and disabled people’s organisations to challenge public and private entities about inaccessible environments. The Regional Development Act sets out the legal basis for full accessibility of the built environment, including a requirement for planning of adaptations where needed. Ordinance 4 of 1 July 2009 for planning, implementation and maintenance of building constructions in compliance with the requirements for accessible environment for the population including for persons with disabilities, enforced on 7 July 2009) contains all standards that make the built environment (newly built and renovated) accessible. Most of the urban environment is not accessible and rural areas even less so. Official data on accessibility of the environment is not available. Under the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act (IPDA) the municipalities are responsible for accessibility of kindergartens, schools and public or special transport as well as for providing persons with permanent disabilities with municipal housing (Art. 38 and 48). According to paragraph 6 of the IPDA the state and municipalities were obliged to ensure access for persons with disabilities to public buildings owned by the state and municipalities until 31 December 2006. This had not yet happened 10 years after the adoption of that Act. A concept paper for legislative amendments regarding accessibility in compliance with Art.9 of the UNCRPD was prepared and discussed with the National Council for Integration of Persons with Disabilities in 2015. The paper was not approved and the new deadline for its elaboration under the 2015-2020 Action Plan was set for 2016 and the deadline for elaboration and adoption of the amendments is 2020.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

C3. ICT and Web accessibility

Anti-discrimination legislation requires websites to be accessible for disabled people. Most of the official websites of the Bulgarian government institutions are accessible to the standards of the Web Accessibility Initiatives.
The Electronic Communications Act was amended in 2011 to provide for compliance with all EU legislation and regulations and explicitly mentions the protection of rights and interests of persons with disabilities in Art.4 and 227. Ordinance for Electronic Administrative Services also contains provisions for accessibility for persons with disabilities. A 40-pages concept paper for the needed policy and legislative amendments for the implementation of Art.21 of the UNCRPD was elaborated and adopted in 2015; the amendments are planned to be adopted until 2020.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

D. Independent living

D1. Choice of living arrangements

The Regulations for Implementation to the Social Assistance Act define institutional placements as voluntary, based on official application submitted by the individual (or his/her guardian) with attached file of documents proving that the person has no access and cannot afford the care needed, as well as a social assessment results reported by the social services department of local authorities. There is no legislation that will directly force disabled people to live in residential care. However, for people with intellectual or mental health problems who are placed under guardianship or whose relatives made them sign the application (or the relatives signed the application themselves violating the law) the placement in residential care is actual detention. A judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 has established that practice of placement in a social care institution for persons with mental disabilities constitutes deprivation of liberty and requires judicial review while subjection to inhuman conditions in such institutions is unlawful.
In January 2016 amendments of the Social Assistance Act have been introduced to provide that placement in institutions shall be done only after all other options for community–based services have been exhausted (Art.16, para.2) and that children, persons with permanent disabilities and persons under plenary guardianship may be placed in institutions for a period no longer than 3 years (Art.16, para.3). Yet the following paragraph clarifies that the court might extend the terms if the children cannot be reintegrated in their families, adopted, placed in families of relatives and close friends, foster family or residential community-based service and the adults cannot be cared for in family environment or residential community-based service (Art.16, para.4). The 2016 amendments also introduced court procedure for placement of adults under plenary guardianship in institutions or community-based residential service (Art.16b), while the administrative temporary placement by the Social Assistance Departments (SAD) is also kept in cases when there is no other option for provision of care. The wish of the person with disability and the opinion of his/her guardian are taken into consideration in both court and administrative procedure and the wish of the person with disability is regulated to have bigger significance for the decision of the court or the SAD in cases of conflict (Art.16a, para.3, Art.16b, para.2.). The law also obliges the court to hear the person with disabilities in person and to get evidence about his wish/choice (Art.16c).
Bulgarian housing and homelessness monitoring policy does not specify disabilities as a thematic indicator. The funding available for house adaptations remains at extremely low levels: EUR 300 for a house adaptation, which is means-tested and provided on a reimbursement basis after the reconstruction is completed and invoices are paid. According to the Integration of Persons with disabilities Act and its amendments people with permanent disabilities are entitled to a monthly allowance for renting a municipal dwelling if they are single and have a personal rent contract.
According to the 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD a draft of Social Services Act to comply with the UNCRPD was supposed to be elaborated in 2016, no evidence about which had been identified. A concept paper for legislative amendments in compliance with Art.19 of the UNCRPD was also adopted in 2015.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-07-25

D2. De-institutionalisation

The issue of institutionalisation in general, among children and particularly disabled children, was raised around 2000-2002. After the Europe-wide debate on deinstitutionalisation, numerous charity initiatives were launched followed by substantial government plans to effect deinstitutionalisation but less provision for community living were discussed. There is a detailed and operationalised plan for deinstitutionalisation, which affects placements of children – with and without disabilities. The approach used is to set up small group homes mainly in urban settlements where residents of large institutions are to be moved to. Foster care, temporary placement in the families of relatives/close friends and adoptions (for children without parental care) are other tools for deinstitutionalisation of children, those with disabilities included. All institutions for children with disabilities have been closed down till the end of 2016. A National Strategy for Long Term Care was adopted in January 2014 to plan the main aims and activities for development of community-based services for elderly and adults with disabilities and deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities living in institutions. However, during the period 2010-2016, 10 institutions for persons with mental disabilities have been closed down, although 10 were opened where children with intellectual disabilities have lived and reached the age of 18, and thus these institutions turned into institutions for adults. The total number of residents in institutions for persons with mental disabilities in 2015 was 3,979. There is a list of social services delivered in the community (Social Assistance Act and its Regulations provide for it – Art.36), most organised within small group homes, supported and/or supervised housing and day-care centres.

А 2014-2016 Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (NGO) monitoring report (about 81 newly established family-type centres and protected homes for adults with mental disabilities) states that although there are rare examples of good practice of real independent living and social inclusion, the majority of the residents in the so-called community based services live under similar conditions to those they encounter in the institutions: placement in them is done by other persons, not the person with disability and his/her wish often is not considered. Buildings vary between luxury and old houses, institutions, and in small towns they used to be kindergartens, schools or are separate buildings or corridors of institutions or local hospitals. Out of 128 in total, 45 protected homes are located in villages where there is no opportunity for activities; food is prepared by catering companies; daily activities are rare and largely not corresponding to personal needs and wishes of the user. Personal money is not spent according to the wishes of persons with disabilities; the guardians of the majority of the users placed under guardianship are staff members; few persons with disabilities use educational or day care services and/or go to work; few persons with disabilities maintain regular contacts with the outside world. Staff is insufficient, underqualified and underpaid. Medical care is not provided in the same way as to persons living outside residential services and often lacks or has low quality.
There is no legislation providing for support for living in the community (professional and peer counselling, personal assistance and support at school, at work or leisure) which would facilitate independent living.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-31

D3. Quality of social services

Quality control of social services is one of the numerous responsibilities imposed on the Social Assistance Agency (SAA). It is performed by a special department, named Inspectorate which reports to the Executive Director and runs inspections of the service providers checking on their compliance with the rules and regulations on provision of social services. It is also supposed to respond to complaints submitted by clients. The basic and very vague quality standards for institutional and community-based social services are regulated in the Regulation for the Implementation of the Social Assistance Act (Art.40e-41b). Additional regulations are contained in guidelines for each type of service but they are not legally binding. Information about the activities of the Inspectorate is included in the Social Assistance Agency’s annual reports. However, the 2016 report, for example, only mentions that only 44 visits had been performed to institutions for persons with disabilities and in some of them improvement of the living conditions is needed; and that 36 visits to community based services had been done with the main aim to check the budget expenditure in them. Publicly available reports of the Inspectorate are not identified. Quality evaluation of social services involving the opinions and suggestions of the users (persons with disabilities) as well as taking into consideration the respect or the failure to respect their fundamental rights is not performed.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

D4. Provision of assistive devices at home

There is no option in the current legislation for the provision of assistive devices. Аnnex 7 to the Regulation for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with disabilities lists exhaustively 14 items of technical aids and medical appliances altogether, for which the Social Assistance Agency grants a fixed amount of ‘earmarked cash benefit’ to eligible disabled people who filed applications, were approved and provided back invoices. The list mentions prostheses, orthoses, crutches, wheelchairs, orthopedic shoes, hearing aids, white cane, antidecubital items, etc. Highly technical appliances are not included. There are organisations - mainly international organisations operating in Bulgaria - that donate equipment to disabled people.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

D5. Availability of personal assistance schemes

Personal assistance (as defined by the Independent Living movement in Europe) is not available in Bulgaria. Instead, day-care centres and home care services absorb a lot of money without changing the status of disabled people; where applicants receive payments, these often contribute to family budgets. The personal assistance scheme was developed with the aim to provide employment options for unemployed persons who were paid to work as personal assistants (Social Assistance Act provides for personal, social and domestic assistant services). Two-stage individual needs assessments are performed. The first stage gives scores for access, depending on the family and the social status of the applicant. The number of hours per month are defined at the second stage, which provides for minimum support (up to 160 hours but this number of hours is rarely given). An Assistant for Independent Living Scheme was introduced in Sofia in 2007 which was initially designed to give disabled users control over the management of the support they need. Later on, series of amendments made it a duplication of the national scheme described above.

Currently, the assistance types of services as regulated by the Bulgarian legislation are provided on a project and programme basis whenever the EU funding is available. Consequently, the provision is inconsistent and the eligibility criteria are different. During the last three phases of the EU project Alternatives (2010, 2011 и 2013/2014) the total of 35,222 persons with permanent disabilities expressed the wish to benefit from the personal assistant programme. The candidates for personal assistants who wanted to provide care and support for their relatives and others who were selected composed 31,911 persons, and out of these 21,920 were trained to be personal assistants. Thus the project lasted in total for 53 months, instead of 19 months. The additional amount allowed 51 in July 2013, 126 in January 2014 and 218 in June 2014 of the partner municipalities to increase the hourly quota and the payment for it from EUR 1 to EUR 1.50 per hour. The total number of persons with disabilities who received personal assistance during the period from 10 January 2011 to 31 December 2014 were 21,340, and there were 20,185 personal assistants involved. By the end of the project there were 13,115 users of this service and 12,416 assistants. The project budget composed about 84 million euros.

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Update date: Wed, 2017-05-31

D6. Income maintenance

An officially granted disability status of more than 71 % reduced working capacity and over 16 years of age entitles beneficiaries to a social disability pension (Social Security Code, Art.90a). As of 2017 this pension amounts to EUR 66/month. Disabled persons with at least 50 % of reduced working capacity who have some work service are entitled to a disability pension (the amount of which is based on their social security contributions done during the work period) regardless of their age (SSC, Art.72). Disabled people who have a paid job receive their salaries and pensions at the same time. Employment among disabled people is not as high as among the non-disabled but the legal option exists for this. All benefits are conditional upon a disability assessment of the individual, which reflects their medical condition and does not consider levels of functioning. The focus is on a disabled person’s impairment and their inability to function as a non-disabled one. Disability status is an eligibility criterion for a number of welfare benefits: monthly integration allowances for transport of people with mobility problems, for medication and diet food, for communication, for access to information and for accessible information, for training. These are regulated in the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act. All disability provisions in Bulgarian legislation refer to a permanently disabled person as 'a person who, as a result of anatomical, physiological or mental impairment, has permanently reduced capacities to perform activities in the way and at the level of a healthy person and for whom the medical assessment authorities have estimated a level of reduced working capacity of 50% or more'. This medical assessment is determinant to access all sorts of disability allowances, cash benefits and services. Such references may be found in the Social Security Code, which provides for pensions and other disability allowances, in the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act providing for monthly integration benefits, in the Social Assistance Act, which gives access to cash benefits and services, in the Law on Family Support and Child Benefits, which grants public resources for raising children, in the Education Act, which allows for school enrolment, in the Public Health Act, in the Employment Promotion Act, which provides for special treatment on the workplace, in the Corporate Taxes Act granting tax holidays for special enterprises and in the Taxation of Individuals Act, which stipulates tax privileges for disabled people. The rate of different benefits is determined in reference to the monthly subsistence cost established by the Government on year-by-year basis (currently it is EUR 33). The size of the individual benefit depends on the type and severity of the impairment and the income of a person. Disabled people are also entitled to a non-reported cash payment for assistance of up to 10 hours a year, which is an extra allowance for income support in the form of assistance service.

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Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

D7. Additional costs

The Regulations for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act (Art.39 and the following) provides for one-time targeted fixed disability benefits - for purchase/adaptation of a car - EUR 615 (for persons with over 90% of reduced working capacity who work or study and if the monthly income of each member of the person’s family is smaller than EUR 100 during the last 12 months); for adaptation of a house – EUR 300 (for persons with over 90 % of reduced working capacity using wheelchairs if the monthly income of each members in the person’s family is smaller than EUR 65 during the last 12 months) and for purchase and repair of 14 enlisted medical appliances and devices – the size of the benefit is determined by the minister of social policy, minister of finance and minister of economics.
No provisions for other additional costs are available through the law. Numerous charities run fundraising campaigns to help disabled people cover the extra cost of compensation for the deficit caused by the impairment. Bulgarian Christmas is the largest initiative launched by the Bulgarian President. Donors’ Message Service DMS is run by the Bulgarian Donors' Forum and collects donations through text messages.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-05-09

D8. Retirement income

Retirement, in terms of age and years of work service, is not relevant as disabled Bulgarians acquire retirement status when they are granted disability status and are entitled to a disability pension and all other related benefits. Nevertheless, they may continue working and receive their salaries and pensions at the same time. However, the employment among disabled people is not as high as among the non-disabled population, but the legal option exists for this. In addition, if the disability status is acquired at retirement age, a disability pension is granted based on an individual assessment of the level of disability, duration of work service, amount of social security contributions during the work period, etc. As of 1 January 2015 if another pension is received by the person with disability, the social pension for disability status (which currently is EUR 65) is terminated.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-31

E. Education

E1. Special schools

Mainstream schools are not allowed to refuse enrolment of a child with special needs, and if this happens, parents may complain. However, schools are not generally prepared to accommodate the needs of such children and most parents opt for special education or individual learning programmes (teachers visit students at home), which happens upon referral from a Panel of Educational Experts within the Regional Education Authorities by residence of the applicant. The Bulgarian education system remains dominated by segregated forms of teaching and learning, although for the last 15 years inclusive education has significantly developed. The new 2016 Preschool and School Education Act provides that the former special schools for children with intellectual disabilities will function as Centres for Special Educational Support (municipal and state) that are established to: perform diagnostic, rehabilitation and therapeutic work with children with special needs after being assessed as such by inclusive education departments; provide teaching and psychological support; implement programs for training of the families of students with special needs; provide education at the compulsory school age as well as vocational training of students with special needs (Art.49, para.2). As there is not any publicly available statistical data about the number of students in these schools in 2017, data from the planned budget standards of the Ministry of Education was reviewed. According to it, 2,722 children study in centres for special educational support in 2017. The annual allowances per child who studies in special schools are: BGN 4,565 (EUR 2,341) for centres for special educational support (and BGN 8,337 (EUR 4,275) when the centre is with a boarding house); BGN 9,891 (EUR 5,072) for special schools for children with sight disabilities on boarding house (317 such children study in such schools) and BGN 9,544 (EUR 4,894) for special schools for children with hearing disabilities on boarding house (401 children study in such schools). However, a large proportion of disabled children remain outside the education system (children with extensive disabilities and complex needs, as well as those in residential care).

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-25

E2. Mainstream schools

The new Preschool and School Education Act (PSEA) was enforced on 1 August 2016. It introduces the concept that education aims at personal development of the students and acquiring of key competences for their personal and professional development as well as understanding and implementing values like: sustainable development, democratic principles, tolerance, human rights, cultural heritage, global development processes etc. The act provides for the components of the right to education – life-long learning and inclusive education (Art.7) and provides that school education in state and municipal schools is free of charge after the compulsory school age (Art.9, para.2.). The PSEA does not allow for discrimination on any grounds, including disabilities. Children with disabilities are enrolled in mainstream schools, special schools or in centres for special educational support depending on their assessment by Regional Education Panels and the wish of their parents/guardians. The law provides for the establishment of the municipal centres for personal support to develop interests, potential, competencies of students in science, arts and sports; to provide career guidance; to provide resource support to students with special needs; to ensure teaching and psychological support; to implement programmes for training of parents and to perform preventative, diagnostic, rehabilitation and resocialisation activities with students (Art.49). These centres together with Centres for Special Educational Support provide additional support to students with special needs.

An Ordinance for Inclusive Education issued by the Council of Ministers on 4 November 2016 provides detailed rules for the qualification and work of the staff, for the requirements, terms, activities, cooperation and coordination between educational institutions in provision of education, diagnostic, therapeutic and other services for special educational support in mainstream and special schools and kindergartens. It also determines the way in which individual plans for education and development are elaborated, updated and implemented and the procedure for assessment and certification of the acquired knowledge and skills in inclusive education.
New Ordinance for the State Requirements for Professional Qualification of Teachers was adopted on 11 November 2016 which among other matters increases the overall training units (with 30 to 50 %) and introduces training in inclusive and dual education. Another Ordinance from 1 September 2016 provides for the status and professional/carrier development of teachers and other pedagogical staff. Several projects for raising professional qualification of over 17,000 teachers are ongoing. State budget for education was increased with BGN 230 million (EUR 115 million ) in 2017 allocated for raising teachers’ remuneration, inclusive education, etc.
The 2017 budget estimates show that around 14,000 students use resource support for some learning problem or disability while studying in mainstream schools. The annual allowance for resource support in mainstream schools per child with special needs is BGN 2,190 (EUR 1,123).

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-25

E3. Sign language and Braille in school

There is no reference to learning Braille or sign language in mainstream schools and no special provision to this end. Braille and sign language are subjects of teaching in special schools only. According to the 2016 Preschool and School Education Act schools for children with sensory disabilities are special and they provide primary and high school education as well as vocational training (Art 44).

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

E4. Vocational training

The new 2016 Preschool and School Education Act refers to Vocational Education and Training Act (VETA) for specific matters related to vocational training including for students with disabilities. VETA introduced dual education and training in 2016. The 2016 amendments of VETA provide for validation of acquired knowledge and skills by informal education for the purpose of continuation of vocational training and access to labour market (Art.5). The 2014 and 2016 amendments in VETA regulated in details the four levels of acquiring vocational skills and the prerequisites for each of them in terms of finished levels of education. Centres for special educational support have also right to teach students with disabilities in vocational training for the first level of professional qualification (Art.9, para.5). However, vocational training of persons over 16 years of age in state and municipal schools is to be paid by the trainee (Art.14b, para.4).
According to the National Statistical Institute data in 2015/2016 academic year there were 2,014 mainstream schools, 46 special schools for children with intellectual disabilities (with 2,427 students), five special schools for children with sight and hearing disabilities (with 588 students) and 387 mainstream vocational training high schools with around 93,000 students in them. No data is publicly available about the students with disabilities enrolled in mainstream schools including in vocational training high schools. The lack of data makes it impossible to assess the impact of the new legislative provisions on students and young persons with disabilities.
The Vocational Education and Training Act does not explicitly prohibit discrimination but provides that vocational education of students with disabilities should be done in accordance with their health condition - the students with sensory disabilities are to be trained in professions “appropriate” for them and the students with intellectual disabilities are trained in part of profession or 1st level of professional qualification (Art.32). The policy and strategic documents do not contain any information about vocational skills programmes (or professions in which training is offered) in which young persons with disabilities may be involved.
The 2016-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) envisages elaboration of new curricula and vocational training modules for students with disabilities at post-compulsory age and organisation of vocational training courses for students with disabilities at the vocational training high schools in 2017.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

E5. Higher education

The Higher Education Act does not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disabilities. It does not include an explicit obligation on colleges and universities to accommodate the needs of disabled students and report on the measures taken. The Act provides for easier access to university education (depending on the internal regulations of each university) of persons with permanent disabilities and over 70 % of reduced working capacity (Art.68) and for the right to support during the studies (Art.70). The 2016-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) envisaged the introduction in 2016 of a university education fee-waiver and facilitated access to scholarships for persons with over 70 % of reduced working capacity. A review of most university websites shows that some of them waive their admission fees for disabled applicants but fewer have provided appropriate accommodations for disabled students. Most universities announce equal opportunities policies but no evidence could be traced of special measures to implement them (administrative or resource allocations).

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-31

F. Employment

F1. Non-discrimination in employment

Article 2 of the Employment Promotion Act prohibits direct or indirect discrimination on the disability grounds. Under the Labour Code employers who have hired over 50 employees must determine annually job positions appropriate for persons with disabilities of 4 to 10 % of all positions depending on the type of economic activity. The concrete share of the job positions for persons with disabilities for each economic activity is determined by the Minister of labour and social policy and the Minister of healthcare. Out of all job positions determined under the Labour Code the employer must determine at least 50 % for persons with permanent disabilities. The employer should inform the Employment Departments for these job positions and must announce the vacant ones in 14 days after their determination. The Labour Code also provides for protection against dismissal – no matter what the reason for dismissal, the employer has to go through a procedure to acquire an approval from the Labour Inspection Office and the Expert Medical Panel. The Employment Promotion Act contains several provisions for subsidized employment options concerning persons with permanent disabilities (Art.36, para.2; Art. 51, para.2; Art.52) and one – for supported employment (Art. 43a introduced in 2015).

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-18

F2. Public employment services

The Employment Promotion Act imposes an obligation on the Employment Agency to ensure support for job-seekers through its local employment offices. They should all assist clients with and without disabilities. Annually a National Programme for Employment and Training of Persons with Permanent Disabilities is adopted to raise employability and to ensure training and subsidized employment to persons with permanent disabilities registered as job-seekers at the local employment departments.
In addition, the Human Resource Development Programme (one of the operational programmes for use of the EU Structural Funds) has a key priority of ‘increased employment rates’. Several significant schemes focused on training and employment of disadvantaged groups on the labour market (among which are persons with disabilities) are ongoing.
According to the 2015-2020 Action Plan for the Implementation of the UNCRPD legislative amendments for introduction of promotion employment mechanisms in regular and specialized environment as well as supported employment should be elaborated and adopted until 2020.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-18

F3. Workplace adaptations

Under the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act the employer is obliged to provide reasonable accommodation for the person with disability unless the expenses for it are unreasonably high and would be a serious burden for the employer (Art.24). The government has to promote employment of disabled people, inter alia through providing support to employers willing to hire disabled people. Since 2010 the employers may apply with projects at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) for funding for ensuring access to the workplace, adaptation of the workplace and equipment of the workplace of the person with permanent disability (Art.25). The APD annually determines the amount of the project funding for employers which it administers. It signs contracts with the employers and provides the funding for approved projects to them. The APD mentions in its 2016 report that the employers are obliged to keep persons with disabilities for at least 36 months in order to achieve sustainability of the program.
According to the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act, if the employer does not receive funding under the Employment Promotion Act, he/she may receive: 1) funding from the state budget for 30% of the paid by him/her social, health and additional pension security contributions for his/her employees with disabilities under the Regulations for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act; 2) expenses for access, adaptation and equipment of the workplace which are reported in the accounting and tax documents. The APD controls the expenditure of the abovementioned funding. The APD reported that in 2016, only 20 employers applied for this program and 15 were approved with the total amount of BGN 266,671 (EUR 136,754) and thus 45 workplaces for persons with disabilities were adapted and equipped. However, the APD notes that private companies do not apply for this kind of funding.
The amount of funding provided by the APD, however, is fixed at minimum level and regardless of the individual needs of disabled people. There is no personal assistance or transportation allowance for disabled employees. Amounts of funding are: for physical access to the work place EUR 5,128; for adjustments of the work place EUR 2,051 and for equipment at the work place: EUR 3,076.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-18

F4. Financial incentives

The Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act contains a section on employment where mainstream employment is mentioned, and the quota system and specialised enterprises are regulated in a comprehensive manner. Article 29 of the Аct requires the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to keep a pubic register of specialised enterprises and to provide funding for their business development projects on top of subsidies granted for having disabled people on the payroll. There are also taxation laws that stipulate incentives for the self-employment of disabled people in addition to start-up business grants provided by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (Art.31). The APD reports that the interest to these grants is very high. In 2016 the total of 163 persons with disabilities applied for funding out of whom only 36 projects were approved and implemented at the total amount of BGN 647,767 (EUR 332,188). People with disability are entitled to double tax-free income levels. Employers of disabled people benefit from corporate tax relief proportionate to the number of the disabled people hired in the business, while special enterprises are totally exempt from paying corporate taxes on the profits they make, as well as from paying local taxes. Provided that these businesses are members of national umbrella organisations, they are entitled to a 50% return on the social security contributions of the employer. The Employment Agency, along with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) run disability programmes that support the demand side of the labour market. Under these programmes, employers may apply for funding to employ disabled people if they make a commitment to maintain the job for 36 months. The allocated money is earmarked for minimum monthly salaries over 12 months plus social and health security contributions. However, disabled employees under these programmes are not provided with access to individual support on the job such as personal assistance, mobility allowance, etc. According to the report about the implementation of the 2016 National Programme for Training and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, during the period January-November 2016, there were 1,227 persons involved in these activities. The average monthly number of employed persons with disabilities under the programme is 1,169 and the allocated funding was BGN 5,666,700 (approx. EUR 2,833,350).

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-18

G. Statistics and data collection

G1. Official research

National publicly available research is almost non-existent. Most research results come from international sources and are funded internationally. There is not much funding allocated for disability research. The most recent research commissioned by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) was carried out in 2008 - 2009 and the report was uploaded on the APD website (2009) and used as the basis for launching a tender procedure to set up a country wide database of disabled people. However, such a research had not been identified on this website in 2017. The Centre for Independent Living (NGO) carries out important and critical analysis and researches related to the UNCRPD, especially in the context of Art.19. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD envisages a concept paper for the needed legislative amendments concerning data collection and statistics (Art.31) to be elaborated until 2020.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

G2. Census data

The last Census was run in early 2011 and had a chapter on disabilities. The published results show that the total number of disabled people is 474,267, of which 9,039 are children.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-31

G3. Labour Force Survey

The Labour Force Survey in Bulgaria does not distinguish disability in labour activity statistics. Calculation of the employment/unemployment rates is data that is secured from other sources such as the Employment Agency, Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Disabled people were not included in the Labour Force Survey ad hoc module in 2002 and 2011.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

G4. Disability equality indicators

There are no disability equality indicators established in Bulgaria. Most government disability-related initiatives state results in terms of 'clients served' or ‘increase in number’ but equality is not measured.

Update date: Fri, 2012-03-23

H. Awareness and external action

H1. Awareness raising programs

There are no special publically funded programmes targeted at awareness raising A few private donors offer funding opportunities to disabled people’s organisations to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), for instance the Special Initiatives of the Open Society Institute in New York. Awareness raising among disabled people is also limited - government funded Disabled People’s Organisations do not do this kind of work and other organisations capable of doing awareness raising are not funded for the purpose. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD contains awareness raising measures such as: application of communication strategy for change of societal attitude towards persons with disabilities; carrying out of a national round table and a conference about the UNCRPD; seminars for the State and municipal administration servants, employers etc.; seminars for members of organisations of and for persons with disabilities.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

H2. Training for teachers

After the adoption of the legislation on integrated education of children with special educational needs and the setting up of 28 resource centres around the country during the period of 2006 - 2010, teachers have been offered different training opportunities focusing on new teaching techniques and skills in handling mixed classes. This process was further facilitated by the career development provisions in the Public Education Act, which correlates training experience with the salary of the teachers. Training sessions are usually offered by universities conducting social pedagogy and special education courses. Education and training, however, are focused on the development of skills and not on attitudes. The new 2016 Preschool and School Education Act and the Ordinances adopted for its implementation provide for trainings of teachers in skills and techniques aimed at effective inclusive education. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD does not envisage any trainings for teachers.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

H3. Training for lawyers

The Report on the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD mentions that four seminars are to be organised in the mid 2015. One of them was planned for judges, prosecutors and other judiciary officers. No other information in the public domain was identified about the training efforts to raise disability awareness among lawyers. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (NGO) and Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation (NGO), when they manage to get earmarked funding for the purpose from private donors, develop training sessions on discrimination and accessibility legislation, trial procedures and legal specifics, which sometimes but not always contain awareness raising sessions.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-25

H4. Training for doctors

The Report on the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UN CRPD mentions that a training seminar with doctors and other medical staff working with persons with disabilities is planned to be organised in 2015 under a EU funded project. However, no other information was identified about this training.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2017-07-25

H5. Training for engineers

Information on this item is not yet available

Update date: Fri, 2012-03-23

H6. International development aid

According to the 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD unified guidelines for international cooperation (Art.32) should be elaborated until 2020.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-10

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            [13] => stdClass Object
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            [14] => stdClass Object
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                    [path] => 
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                    [level] => 2
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            [16] => stdClass Object
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                    [path] => 
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                    [level] => 2
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                    [access] => 0
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            [20] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 24
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            [21] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 25
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                    [level] => 2
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                    [access] => 0
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                    [ordering] => 24
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                )

            [22] => stdClass Object
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                    [access] => 0
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            [23] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 27
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                    [level] => 2
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                )

            [24] => stdClass Object
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        )

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                    [ordering] => 3
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            [3] => stdClass Object
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                    [ordering] => 4
                    [state] => 1
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                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => a4-comprehensive-review
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 5
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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                    [level] => 2
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 6
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => a6-coordination-mechanism
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 7
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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            [7] => stdClass Object
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                    [level] => 2
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 8
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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            [8] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 10
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                    [rgt] => 17
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => a8-official-reporting
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 9
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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            [9] => stdClass Object
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                    [parent_id] => 2
                    [lft] => 18
                    [rgt] => 19
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => a9-shadow-reporting
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 10
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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            [10] => stdClass Object
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                    [parent_id] => 1
                    [lft] => 21
                    [rgt] => 32
                    [level] => 1
                    [slug] => b-general-legal-framework
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 11
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
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            [11] => stdClass Object
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                    [lft] => 22
                    [rgt] => 23
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => b1-anti-discrimination-legislation
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                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 12
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out] => 0
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            [12] => stdClass Object
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                    [lft] => 24
                    [rgt] => 25
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => b2-recognition-of-legal-capacity
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                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 13
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
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            [13] => stdClass Object
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                    [lft] => 26
                    [rgt] => 27
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => b3-accessibility-of-voting-and-elections
                    [title] => B3. Accessibility of voting and elections
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 14
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
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            [14] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 16
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                    [lft] => 28
                    [rgt] => 29
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => b4-official-recognition-of-sign-language
                    [title] => B4. Official recognition of sign language
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
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                    [ordering] => 23
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 32
                    [state] => 1
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 33
                    [state] => 1
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                    [access] => 0
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                    [ordering] => 37
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                    [slug] => f2-public-employment-services
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                    [access] => 0
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                    [ordering] => 38
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                    [slug] => f3-workplace-adaptations
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                    [access] => 0
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                    [ordering] => 39
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                    [slug] => f4-financial-incentives
                    [title] => F4. Financial incentives
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                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 40
                    [state] => 1
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                    [level] => 1
                    [slug] => g-statistics-and-data-collection
                    [title] => G. Statistics and data collection
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 41
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
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            [41] => stdClass Object
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                    [slug] => g1-official-research
                    [title] => G1. Official research
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                    [access] => 0
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                    [ordering] => 42
                    [state] => 1
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                    [slug] => g2-census-data
                    [title] => G2. Census data
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                    [access] => 0
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                    [ordering] => 43
                    [state] => 1
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                    [slug] => g3-labour-force-survey
                    [title] => G3. Labour Force Survey
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 44
                    [state] => 1
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                    [slug] => g4-disability-equality-indicators
                    [title] => G4. Disability equality indicators
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 45
                    [state] => 1
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                    [title] => H. Awareness and external action
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 46
                    [state] => 1
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                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
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            [46] => stdClass Object
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                    [slug] => h1-awareness-raising-programs
                    [title] => H1. Awareness raising programs
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 47
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
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            [47] => stdClass Object
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                    [lft] => 94
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                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => h2-training-for-teachers
                    [title] => H2. Training for teachers
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 48
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
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                )

            [48] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 50
                    [parent_id] => 47
                    [lft] => 96
                    [rgt] => 97
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => h3-training-for-lawyers
                    [title] => H3. Training for lawyers
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 49
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
                    [modified_by] => 548
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                )

            [49] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 51
                    [parent_id] => 47
                    [lft] => 98
                    [rgt] => 99
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => h4-training-for-doctors
                    [title] => H4. Training for doctors
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 50
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
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            [50] => stdClass Object
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                    [id] => 52
                    [parent_id] => 47
                    [lft] => 100
                    [rgt] => 101
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => h5-training-for-engineers
                    [title] => H5. Training for engineers
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 51
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
                    [modified_by] => 548
                    [children] => 0
                )

            [51] => stdClass Object
                (
                    [id] => 53
                    [parent_id] => 47
                    [lft] => 102
                    [rgt] => 103
                    [level] => 2
                    [slug] => h6-international-development-aid
                    [title] => H6. International development aid
                    [alias] => 
                    [access] => 0
                    [path] => 
                    [ordering] => 52
                    [state] => 1
                    [published] => 1
                    [checked_out] => 0
                    [checked_out_time] => 2016-07-01 12:00:00
                    [created_by] => 548
                    [modified_by] => 548
                    [children] => 0
                )

        )

    [results] => Array
        (
            [8] => stdClass Object
                (
                    [parent] => EU Member States
                    [location] => Bulgaria
                    [location_id] => 8
                    [location_slug] => bulgaria
                    [themes] => Array
                        (
                            [3] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A1. Ratification or conclusion of the UN Convention
                                    [theme_slug] => a1-ratification-or-conclusion-of-the-un-convention
                                    [theme_id] => 3
                                    [contents] => Bulgaria signed the UN CRPD on 27 September 2007 and the Optional Protocol on 28 December 2008. On 26 January 2012, the Bulgarian Parliament ratified the UN Convention.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:07:10
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Bulgarian Parliament ratification
                                                    [url] => http://www.parliament.bg/bg/laws/ID/13787/
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [4] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A2. Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol
                                    [theme_slug] => a2-ratification-or-accession-to-the-optional-protocol
                                    [theme_id] => 4
                                    [contents] => The National Assembly decided not to ratify the Optional Protocol at the same time as the Convention. The Council of Ministers adopted an updated Action Plan for Implementation of the UN CRPD (2015-2020) on 25 June 2015. According to it the Optional Protocol would be officially translated into Bulgarian in 2017 and ratified until 2020.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:08:03
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Assembly press release
                                                    [url] => http://www.parliament.bg/en/news/ID/2359
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan for Implementation of the UN CRPD (2015-2020)
                                                    [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [5] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A3. Declarations, Reservations and Objections
                                    [theme_slug] => a3-declarations-reservations-and-objections
                                    [theme_id] => 5
                                    [contents] => No declarations or reservations have been made.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:08:18
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                        )

                                )

                            [6] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A4. Comprehensive review
                                    [theme_slug] => a4-comprehensive-review
                                    [theme_id] => 6
                                    [contents] => After ratification of the Convention in 2012, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy announced that he will propose a new two-year plan for the application of the Convention within six months of ratification. Such a plan was adopted and implemented in 2013-2014. A review of the legislation and concept papers for legislative amendments were adopted to comply with Art.11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 24 and 30 of the UN CRPD. In 2015 a new five-year Action Plan for Implementation of the CRPD was adopted. It again envisages comprehensive review of the legislation and adoption of concept papers about the needed legislative amendments in compliance with the articles of the UN CRPD to be prepared until 2020.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:13:12
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan to Bring National Legislation in Compliance with the UN CRPD (2013-2014)
                                                    [url] => http://www.strategy. bg/FileHandler.ashx?fileId=3028
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan for Implementation of UN CRPD (2015-2020)
                                                    [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [7] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A5. Focal point
                                    [theme_slug] => a5-focal-point
                                    [theme_id] => 7
                                    [contents] => The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) was responsible for the coordination and setting up of an expert group which was supposed to elect/appoint the authority which would be responsible for coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the UNCRPD. However, such an authority has not been appointed as of April 2017. The elaboration of legislative amendments which would provide for the functions of the coordination and monitoring authority is scheduled for 2020.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:13:59
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Ministry of Labour and Social Policy
                                                    [url] => http://www.mlsp.government.bg
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan for Implementation of UNCRPD (2015-2020)
                                                    [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [8] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A6. Coordination mechanism
                                    [theme_slug] => a6-coordination-mechanism
                                    [theme_id] => 8
                                    [contents] => A National Council for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities was established to include representatives of the state, national representative organizations of and for people with disabilities, national organizations representing employees, nationally representative organizations of employers, and the National Association of Municipalities in Republic of Bulgaria. An expert group was established in 2013 to co-ordinate implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan. However, according to the new 2015-2020 Action Plan a new expert group for appointment of coordination body was supposed to be set up in 2016. Another expert group is supposed to elaborate the coordination mechanism in 2017.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:14:47
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => National Council for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities
                                                    [url] => http://www.saveti.government.bg/web/cc_11
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan for Implementation of UNCRPD (2015-2020)
                                                    [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [9] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A7. Independent mechanism
                                    [theme_slug] => a7-independent-mechanism
                                    [theme_id] => 9
                                    [contents] => Independent monitoring authority was supposed to be appointed and a mechanism to be elaborated in 2016 (according to the 2015-2020 Action Plan). As of April 2017 such an authority and a mechanism have not been identified.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:15:49
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => 2016 Ombudsman’s Annual Report
                                                    [url] => http://www.ombudsman.bg/pictures/REPORT-BG%20mart_2017-2(2).pdf
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [10] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A8. Official reporting
                                    [theme_slug] => a8-official-reporting
                                    [theme_id] => 10
                                    [contents] => Bulgaria's initial state party report, covering the period 2012-13, was due in April 2014 and submitted July 2014. The version appearing on the UN database is identified as an 'advance unedited version' in certified translation from Bulgarian to English.
                                    [update_date] => 2015-03-03 12:40:01
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => State reports to the UN Committee
                                                    [url] => http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&CountryID=26&DocTypeID=29
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Link to all UN reporting cycle documentation:	
                                                    [url] => http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&CountryID=26
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [11] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => A. UN Convention status
                                    [theme_title] => A9. Shadow reporting
                                    [theme_slug] => a9-shadow-reporting
                                    [theme_id] => 11
                                    [contents] => The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has prepared a shadow report which has been sent to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2017.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-08-09 15:36:20
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Civil society reports to the UN Committee
                                                    [url] => http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&CountryID=26&DocTypeID=14
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Bulgarian Helsinki Committee alternative report
                                                    [url] => http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CRPD/Shared%20Documents/BGR/INT_CRPD_ICO_BGR_27646_E.pdf
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [13] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => B. General legal framework
                                    [theme_title] => B1. Anti-discrimination legislation
                                    [theme_slug] => b1-anti-discrimination-legislation
                                    [theme_id] => 13
                                    [contents] => The Constitution of Bulgaria does not include disability as a protected ground for unequal treatment. The disability anti-discrimination framework is shaped by two major pieces of legislation: Protection from Discrimination Act (general) and the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act (specific) where all disability-specific provisions are included. The Protection from Discrimination Act passed in 2003 which came into force in January 2004 fully transposes the EU Equality Directives (43/2000/ЕС, 78/2000/ЕС, 75/117/ЕCR, 97/80/ЕC, 76/207/ЕCR) and regulates the protection of all citizens from all forms of discrimination. The law also bans discrimination on grounds of disability. Article 5 of the Protection from Discrimination Act provides that 'construction and maintenance of inaccessible environment' is direct discrimination. All subject laws (on education, on employment, on transport, on social services, on protection of child rights, on protection from domestic violence etc.) include an anti-discrimination provision, which usually has a disability reference along with all other vulnerable groups (ethnic minorities, women, elderly, etc.).
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:18:23
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act
                                                    [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135491478
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Protection from Discrimination Act
                                                    [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135472223
                                                )

                                            [2] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Constitution of Bulgaria
                                                    [url] => http://parliament.bg/bg/const
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [14] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => B. General legal framework
                                    [theme_title] => B2. Recognition of legal capacity
                                    [theme_slug] => b2-recognition-of-legal-capacity
                                    [theme_id] => 14
                                    [contents] => Bulgarian legislation, which regulates the issues related to legal capacity of persons, including persons with intellectual disabilities and mental problems, is still mainly based on the concept of substitute decision making. The Natural Persons and Family Act (NPFA) provides for the basic definitions of plenary and partial guardianship, the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) regulates the incapacitation court proceedings; the Family Code provides for the administrative proceeding for appointment/change of a guardian/guardianship council and their obligations and powers. Medical diagnosis is necessary for a spouse, close relative, prosecutor or anyone who has a legal interest in initiating a procedure for putting a person with intellectual disabilities or mental disorder under guardianship, which is done by the regional court. Once the status of legal incapacity is granted it is not periodically reviewed. No options for supported decision making are available yet. As a product of a working group at the Ministry of Justice which consisted of NGOs, academic and governmental representatives, a Draft Act on the Natural Persons and the Support Measures was elaborated and introduced in the Parliament by the Council of Ministers on 4 August 2016. The draft act is centred on the UNCRPD recognition of legal capacity concept and was elaborated to implement the supported decision making concept in legislation. Discussion and voting sessions at the Parliament are expected.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:20:44
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Civil Procedurе Code
                                                    [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135558368
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Natural Persons and Family Act
                                                    [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135637484
                                                )

                                            [2] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Family Code
                                                    [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135637484
                                                )

                                            [3] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Draft Act on the Natural Persons and the Support Measures
                                                    [url] => http://parliament.bg/bills/43/602-01-48.pdf
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [15] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => B. General legal framework
                                    [theme_title] => B3. Accessibility of voting and elections
                                    [theme_slug] => b3-accessibility-of-voting-and-elections
                                    [theme_id] => 15
                                    [contents] => Bulgarian legislation has created opportunities for persons with disabilities to exercise their political rights in principle, but these opportunities are limited for persons with certain types of impairments – e.g. mental, visual and intellectual. According to Article 42 of the Constitution all persons who are 18 years of age, except those who are placed under guardianship or are serving a prison sentence, have the right to vote in central and local authority elections and to participate in public referenda. Therefore there is a prohibitive norm for persons with intellectual and mental disabilities placed under guardianship to exercise their active or passive rights to vote. Polling stations - usually school premises - are quite inaccessible despite the fact that a special 'disability' section should be located on the lowest floor and the process of registration of the disabled voters be simplified as much as possible. The new Electoral Code passed in 2011 established a mobile polling station for people with permanent disabilities which is available if the person requests it in written at least 30 days before the election day (Аrt.176). The privacy of voting is guaranteed in Art.182 of the Electoral Code by prohibiting the presence of other persons than the voter in range of 3 m. from the polling station.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:28:48
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Electoral Code
                                                    [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135715515
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [16] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => B. General legal framework
                                    [theme_title] => B4. Official recognition of sign language
                                    [theme_slug] => b4-official-recognition-of-sign-language
                                    [theme_id] => 16
                                    [contents] => Sign language is not officially recognised. The Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act requires national media to provide media information accessible to persons with disabilities (Art.39), but this is not implemented. Some regional broadcasting companies deliver simultaneous sign language for their mainstream news, due to private funding. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD envisages research, recognition, trainings in sign language and legal regulation of interpretation in sign language for persons with hearing disabilities to take place until 2020.
                                    [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:36:24
                                    [links] => Array
                                        (
                                            [0] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] =>  Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act
                                                    [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135491478
                                                )

                                            [1] => stdClass Object
                                                (
                                                    [title] => Council of Ministers:  2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD
                                                    [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967
                                                )

                                        )

                                )

                            [17] => stdClass Object
                                (
                                    [parent] => B. General legal framework
                                    [theme_title] => B5. National disability strategy and action plan
                                    [theme_slug] => b5-national-disability-strategy-and-action-plan
                                    [theme_id] => 17
                                    [contents] => In 2012 a process of updating the Strategy for Equal Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities 2008-2015 was carried out in order to reflect the novelties included in the European Disability Strategy (EDS) 2010-2020. The main goals of the updated strategy are a repetition of the goals of the previous strategies, namely: accessibility of public buildings and public and private transportation; quality day care and education for children with disabilities; quality vocational training; high school and university education for young persons with disabilities; complex medical and social rehabilitation; widening of the employment options for persons with disabilities; priority development of community-based social services for persons with disabilities; access to cultural, tourist and sport activities and designated areas for persons with disabilities, and raising awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities.  
On 7 July 2016 the Council of Ministers adopted new National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) which reflects the EDS and was elaborated to reflect also the 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD. It contains six priorities – access to living environment and freedom of expression and opinion and access to information; access to inclusive education and life-long learning; access to effective quality health care services; access to employment; adequate support for community living and access to cultural, tourist and sport activities. A 2016-2018 Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) was also adopted at the end of December 2016. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:38:01 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: Updated Strategy for Equal Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities 2008 - 2015 [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/FileHandler.ashx?fileId=2353 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan to the Strategy [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/FileHandler.ashx?fileId=3012 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=1048 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: 2016-2018 Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) [url] => https://www.mlsp.government.bg/index.php?section=POLICIESI&I=282 ) ) ) [19] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => C. Accessibility [theme_title] => C1. Transport accessibility [theme_slug] => c1-transport-accessibility [theme_id] => 19 [contents] => Anti-discrimination legislation requires all transport - related agents (government agencies, operators, etc.) to ensure that their services are available to all citizens. In addition, the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act provides that the Ministry of Transport is responsible for elaboration of legislative acts and standards for: ensuring accessible public transport; introducing technical devices into the public space and transport facilitating mobility of persons with disabilities; ensuring special conditions for movements, parking, stay of vehicles led or transporting persons with disabilities; ensuring of non-problematic access to public transport of persons with disabilities and their accompanying dogs (Art.34).
The Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 was transposed in terms of introducing provisions ensuring accessible bus stations and sanctions for violation of this obligation in the Road Transport Act. The latter provides for effective, proportionate and preventative sanctions. The Road Traffic Act provides for the requirements of the parking card allowing its owner to park in designated places for persons with disabilities and to use facilitated access to them.
Ordinance 2 of 15 March 2002 for Transport Schemes and Public Bus Transport provides for the requirements towards municipal councils that determine the city and intercity bus lines adapted for persons with disabilities and limited mobility. According to this Ordinance, 35% of the total number of bus routes should be performed by buses adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities. The tender eligibility requirements for bus transport providers contain obligatory requirement for availability of equipment of the vehicles for transportation of persons with disabilities. In cities with population over 100,000 citizens at least one main and one additional line are performed only by buses equipped to transport persons with disabilities.
Ordinance 33 of 3 November 1999 sets the accessibility requirements for bus stations such as: availability of a platform or ramp for wheelchairs allowing access to buses; appropriate access from the street to the bus station and to the buses, in waiting rooms, ticket offices there should be at least one accessible toilet. Ordinance H-32 of 16 December 2011 for periodic technical inspection of the public transportation vehicles regulates the technical requirements for the vehicles for persons with disabilities.
Railway Administration Agency implements Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations. Regulation (EC) No 1300/2014 of 18 November 2014 on the technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility of the Union's rail system for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility is also implemented in Bulgaria. A National Plan for its implementation from December 2016 reports in detail about the numbers and locations of railway stations and stops partially accessible for persons with disabilities and those that would be adapted in the future to comply with the Regulation. Only 8 long-distance trains perform the transport of persons with disabilities on a daily basis. To benefit from the railway transport a person with disability needs to request support one day before the trip. Around 1,000 persons with disabilities a year travel in this way (while persons with physical and sensory disabilities who need support in transport are over 100,000). [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:45:19 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, [url] => https://www.mtitc.government.bg/ ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications: National Plan for Implementation of the technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility of the rail system for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility [url] => https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/national_implementation_plans-bg.pdf ) ) ) [20] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => C. Accessibility [theme_title] => C2. Built environment accessibility [theme_slug] => c2-built-environment-accessibility [theme_id] => 20 [contents] => Since 1995 two laws have required owners/investors to ensure that the built environment, especially public facilities is made accessible for disabled people. The Protection from Discrimination Act, passed in 2003, bans discrimination on the grounds of disability. Article 5 declares ‘construction and maintenance of an inaccessible environment’ to be direct discrimination, and this has allowed many physically disabled people, individuals with visual impairments and disabled people’s organisations to challenge public and private entities about inaccessible environments. The Regional Development Act sets out the legal basis for full accessibility of the built environment, including a requirement for planning of adaptations where needed. Ordinance 4 of 1 July 2009 for planning, implementation and maintenance of building constructions in compliance with the requirements for accessible environment for the population including for persons with disabilities, enforced on 7 July 2009) contains all standards that make the built environment (newly built and renovated) accessible. Most of the urban environment is not accessible and rural areas even less so. Official data on accessibility of the environment is not available. Under the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act (IPDA) the municipalities are responsible for accessibility of kindergartens, schools and public or special transport as well as for providing persons with permanent disabilities with municipal housing (Art. 38 and 48). According to paragraph 6 of the IPDA the state and municipalities were obliged to ensure access for persons with disabilities to public buildings owned by the state and municipalities until 31 December 2006. This had not yet happened 10 years after the adoption of that Act. A concept paper for legislative amendments regarding accessibility in compliance with Art.9 of the UNCRPD was prepared and discussed with the National Council for Integration of Persons with Disabilities in 2015. The paper was not approved and the new deadline for its elaboration under the 2015-2020 Action Plan was set for 2016 and the deadline for elaboration and adoption of the amendments is 2020. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:47:21 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regional Development Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/laws/ldoc/2135163904 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ordinance 4 of 1 July 2009 for planning, implementation and maintenance of building constructions in compliance with the requirements for accessible environment for the population including persons with disabilities, enforced on 7 July 2009 [url] => http://www.mrrb.government.bg/naredba-4-ot-2009-g-za-proektirane-izpulnenie-i-poddurjane-na-stroejite-v-suotvetstvie-s-iziskvaniyata-za-dostupna-sreda-za-naselenieto-vklyuchitelno-za-horata-s-uvrejdaniya-dv-br-54-ot-2009-g/ ) ) ) [21] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => C. Accessibility [theme_title] => C3. ICT and Web accessibility [theme_slug] => c3-ict-and-web-accessibility [theme_id] => 21 [contents] => Anti-discrimination legislation requires websites to be accessible for disabled people. Most of the official websites of the Bulgarian government institutions are accessible to the standards of the Web Accessibility Initiatives.
The Electronic Communications Act was amended in 2011 to provide for compliance with all EU legislation and regulations and explicitly mentions the protection of rights and interests of persons with disabilities in Art.4 and 227. Ordinance for Electronic Administrative Services also contains provisions for accessibility for persons with disabilities. A 40-pages concept paper for the needed policy and legislative amendments for the implementation of Art.21 of the UNCRPD was elaborated and adopted in 2015; the amendments are planned to be adopted until 2020. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 16:49:14 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Web Accessibility Initiatives [url] => http://www.w3.org/WAI/ ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Electronic Communications Act in English [url] => https://www.cpdp.bg/en/index.php?p=element&aid=433 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Education: Concept for Legislative Amendments for Implementation of Art. 21 of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.mon.bg/?h=downloadFile&fileId=7126 ) ) ) [23] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D1. Choice of living arrangements [theme_slug] => d1-choice-of-living-arrangements [theme_id] => 23 [contents] => The Regulations for Implementation to the Social Assistance Act define institutional placements as voluntary, based on official application submitted by the individual (or his/her guardian) with attached file of documents proving that the person has no access and cannot afford the care needed, as well as a social assessment results reported by the social services department of local authorities. There is no legislation that will directly force disabled people to live in residential care. However, for people with intellectual or mental health problems who are placed under guardianship or whose relatives made them sign the application (or the relatives signed the application themselves violating the law) the placement in residential care is actual detention. A judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 has established that practice of placement in a social care institution for persons with mental disabilities constitutes deprivation of liberty and requires judicial review while subjection to inhuman conditions in such institutions is unlawful.
In January 2016 amendments of the Social Assistance Act have been introduced to provide that placement in institutions shall be done only after all other options for community–based services have been exhausted (Art.16, para.2) and that children, persons with permanent disabilities and persons under plenary guardianship may be placed in institutions for a period no longer than 3 years (Art.16, para.3). Yet the following paragraph clarifies that the court might extend the terms if the children cannot be reintegrated in their families, adopted, placed in families of relatives and close friends, foster family or residential community-based service and the adults cannot be cared for in family environment or residential community-based service (Art.16, para.4). The 2016 amendments also introduced court procedure for placement of adults under plenary guardianship in institutions or community-based residential service (Art.16b), while the administrative temporary placement by the Social Assistance Departments (SAD) is also kept in cases when there is no other option for provision of care. The wish of the person with disability and the opinion of his/her guardian are taken into consideration in both court and administrative procedure and the wish of the person with disability is regulated to have bigger significance for the decision of the court or the SAD in cases of conflict (Art.16a, para.3, Art.16b, para.2.). The law also obliges the court to hear the person with disabilities in person and to get evidence about his wish/choice (Art.16c).
Bulgarian housing and homelessness monitoring policy does not specify disabilities as a thematic indicator. The funding available for house adaptations remains at extremely low levels: EUR 300 for a house adaptation, which is means-tested and provided on a reimbursement basis after the reconstruction is completed and invoices are paid. According to the Integration of Persons with disabilities Act and its amendments people with permanent disabilities are entitled to a monthly allowance for renting a municipal dwelling if they are single and have a personal rent contract.
According to the 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD a draft of Social Services Act to comply with the UNCRPD was supposed to be elaborated in 2016, no evidence about which had been identified. A concept paper for legislative amendments in compliance with Art.19 of the UNCRPD was also adopted in 2015. [update_date] => 2017-07-25 11:29:57 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Social Assistance Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2134405633 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Judgement of the ECHR Stanev v. Bulgaria [url] => http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=898586&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Social Assistance Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/-13038592 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Report about the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=784 ) ) ) [24] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D2. De-institutionalisation [theme_slug] => d2-de-institutionalisation [theme_id] => 24 [contents] => The issue of institutionalisation in general, among children and particularly disabled children, was raised around 2000-2002. After the Europe-wide debate on deinstitutionalisation, numerous charity initiatives were launched followed by substantial government plans to effect deinstitutionalisation but less provision for community living were discussed. There is a detailed and operationalised plan for deinstitutionalisation, which affects placements of children – with and without disabilities. The approach used is to set up small group homes mainly in urban settlements where residents of large institutions are to be moved to. Foster care, temporary placement in the families of relatives/close friends and adoptions (for children without parental care) are other tools for deinstitutionalisation of children, those with disabilities included. All institutions for children with disabilities have been closed down till the end of 2016. A National Strategy for Long Term Care was adopted in January 2014 to plan the main aims and activities for development of community-based services for elderly and adults with disabilities and deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities living in institutions. However, during the period 2010-2016, 10 institutions for persons with mental disabilities have been closed down, although 10 were opened where children with intellectual disabilities have lived and reached the age of 18, and thus these institutions turned into institutions for adults. The total number of residents in institutions for persons with mental disabilities in 2015 was 3,979. There is a list of social services delivered in the community (Social Assistance Act and its Regulations provide for it – Art.36), most organised within small group homes, supported and/or supervised housing and day-care centres.

А 2014-2016 Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (NGO) monitoring report (about 81 newly established family-type centres and protected homes for adults with mental disabilities) states that although there are rare examples of good practice of real independent living and social inclusion, the majority of the residents in the so-called community based services live under similar conditions to those they encounter in the institutions: placement in them is done by other persons, not the person with disability and his/her wish often is not considered. Buildings vary between luxury and old houses, institutions, and in small towns they used to be kindergartens, schools or are separate buildings or corridors of institutions or local hospitals. Out of 128 in total, 45 protected homes are located in villages where there is no opportunity for activities; food is prepared by catering companies; daily activities are rare and largely not corresponding to personal needs and wishes of the user. Personal money is not spent according to the wishes of persons with disabilities; the guardians of the majority of the users placed under guardianship are staff members; few persons with disabilities use educational or day care services and/or go to work; few persons with disabilities maintain regular contacts with the outside world. Staff is insufficient, underqualified and underpaid. Medical care is not provided in the same way as to persons living outside residential services and often lacks or has low quality.
There is no legislation providing for support for living in the community (professional and peer counselling, personal assistance and support at school, at work or leisure) which would facilitate independent living. [update_date] => 2017-05-31 16:17:05 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: 2010 National Strategy “Vision for Deinstitutionalisation for Children in Bulgaria” [url] => http://sacp.government.bg/bg/evropejski-programi-i-proekti/proekt-detstvo-za-vsichki/nacionalna-strategiya-viziya-za-deinstitucionalizaciya-na-decata/ ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: Action Plan for Implementation of the “Vision for Deinstitutionalisation for Children in Bulgaria”, adopted on 24 November 2010 [url] => http://sacp.government.bg/media/filer_public/2015/12/11/plan-natsionalna-strategia-vizia-deinstitutsionalizatsia-na-detsata-v-bulgaria.pdf ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: National Strategy for Long Term Care, adopted on 7 January 2014 [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=882 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Social Assistance Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/-13038592 ) [4] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Bulgarian Helsinki Committee: Unhappening Deinstitutionalization of Persons with Mental Disabilities (monitoring report), 2016 [url] => http://www.bghelsinki.org/media/uploads/documents/reports/special/2016_nesluchvashtata_se_deinstitucionalizacia_na_licata_s_umstveni_zatrudnenia_v_bulgaria_[978-954-9738-37-7].pdf ) ) ) [25] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D3. Quality of social services [theme_slug] => d3-quality-of-social-services [theme_id] => 25 [contents] => Quality control of social services is one of the numerous responsibilities imposed on the Social Assistance Agency (SAA). It is performed by a special department, named Inspectorate which reports to the Executive Director and runs inspections of the service providers checking on their compliance with the rules and regulations on provision of social services. It is also supposed to respond to complaints submitted by clients. The basic and very vague quality standards for institutional and community-based social services are regulated in the Regulation for the Implementation of the Social Assistance Act (Art.40e-41b). Additional regulations are contained in guidelines for each type of service but they are not legally binding. Information about the activities of the Inspectorate is included in the Social Assistance Agency’s annual reports. However, the 2016 report, for example, only mentions that only 44 visits had been performed to institutions for persons with disabilities and in some of them improvement of the living conditions is needed; and that 36 visits to community based services had been done with the main aim to check the budget expenditure in them. Publicly available reports of the Inspectorate are not identified. Quality evaluation of social services involving the opinions and suggestions of the users (persons with disabilities) as well as taking into consideration the respect or the failure to respect their fundamental rights is not performed. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 17:13:30 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Statute of the Social Assistance Agency [url] => http://www.lex.bg/laws/ldoc/2135463381 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Annual reports of the Social Assistance Agency [url] => http://www.asp.government.bg/documents/20181/20931/O%D1%82%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%82+%D0%B7%D0%B0+%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%B9%D0%BD%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D1%82%D0%B0+%D0%BD%D0%B0+%D0%90%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%86%D0%B8%D1%8F%D1%82%D0%B0+%D0%B7%D0%B0+%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%86%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BD%D0%BE+%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B5+%D0%B7%D0%B0+2016+%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B0/2a9f2f34-7240-49ab-9070-ca6fc6da56dc ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Social Assistance Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/-13038592 ) ) ) [26] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D4. Provision of assistive devices at home [theme_slug] => d4-provision-of-assistive-devices-at-home [theme_id] => 26 [contents] => There is no option in the current legislation for the provision of assistive devices. Аnnex 7 to the Regulation for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with disabilities lists exhaustively 14 items of technical aids and medical appliances altogether, for which the Social Assistance Agency grants a fixed amount of ‘earmarked cash benefit’ to eligible disabled people who filed applications, were approved and provided back invoices. The list mentions prostheses, orthoses, crutches, wheelchairs, orthopedic shoes, hearing aids, white cane, antidecubital items, etc. Highly technical appliances are not included. There are organisations - mainly international organisations operating in Bulgaria - that donate equipment to disabled people. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 17:15:05 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135497213 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Frontline Bulgaria [url] => http://www.frontlinepartnership.org/pages/bulgaria.html ) ) ) [27] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D5. Availability of personal assistance schemes [theme_slug] => d5-availability-of-personal-assistance-schemes [theme_id] => 27 [contents] => Personal assistance (as defined by the Independent Living movement in Europe) is not available in Bulgaria. Instead, day-care centres and home care services absorb a lot of money without changing the status of disabled people; where applicants receive payments, these often contribute to family budgets. The personal assistance scheme was developed with the aim to provide employment options for unemployed persons who were paid to work as personal assistants (Social Assistance Act provides for personal, social and domestic assistant services). Two-stage individual needs assessments are performed. The first stage gives scores for access, depending on the family and the social status of the applicant. The number of hours per month are defined at the second stage, which provides for minimum support (up to 160 hours but this number of hours is rarely given). An Assistant for Independent Living Scheme was introduced in Sofia in 2007 which was initially designed to give disabled users control over the management of the support they need. Later on, series of amendments made it a duplication of the national scheme described above.

Currently, the assistance types of services as regulated by the Bulgarian legislation are provided on a project and programme basis whenever the EU funding is available. Consequently, the provision is inconsistent and the eligibility criteria are different. During the last three phases of the EU project Alternatives (2010, 2011 и 2013/2014) the total of 35,222 persons with permanent disabilities expressed the wish to benefit from the personal assistant programme. The candidates for personal assistants who wanted to provide care and support for their relatives and others who were selected composed 31,911 persons, and out of these 21,920 were trained to be personal assistants. Thus the project lasted in total for 53 months, instead of 19 months. The additional amount allowed 51 in July 2013, 126 in January 2014 and 218 in June 2014 of the partner municipalities to increase the hourly quota and the payment for it from EUR 1 to EUR 1.50 per hour. The total number of persons with disabilities who received personal assistance during the period from 10 January 2011 to 31 December 2014 were 21,340, and there were 20,185 personal assistants involved. By the end of the project there were 13,115 users of this service and 12,416 assistants. The project budget composed about 84 million euros. [update_date] => 2017-05-31 14:55:12 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Social Assistance Agency: 2015 Annual Report of the Activities [url] => http://www.asp.government.bg/web/guest/godisen-otcet ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Sofia Municipality – Assistant for Independent Living [url] => http://dsd.sofia.bg/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=76&Itemid=35 ) ) ) [28] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D6. Income maintenance [theme_slug] => d6-income-maintenance [theme_id] => 28 [contents] => An officially granted disability status of more than 71 % reduced working capacity and over 16 years of age entitles beneficiaries to a social disability pension (Social Security Code, Art.90a). As of 2017 this pension amounts to EUR 66/month. Disabled persons with at least 50 % of reduced working capacity who have some work service are entitled to a disability pension (the amount of which is based on their social security contributions done during the work period) regardless of their age (SSC, Art.72). Disabled people who have a paid job receive their salaries and pensions at the same time. Employment among disabled people is not as high as among the non-disabled but the legal option exists for this. All benefits are conditional upon a disability assessment of the individual, which reflects their medical condition and does not consider levels of functioning. The focus is on a disabled person’s impairment and their inability to function as a non-disabled one. Disability status is an eligibility criterion for a number of welfare benefits: monthly integration allowances for transport of people with mobility problems, for medication and diet food, for communication, for access to information and for accessible information, for training. These are regulated in the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act. All disability provisions in Bulgarian legislation refer to a permanently disabled person as 'a person who, as a result of anatomical, physiological or mental impairment, has permanently reduced capacities to perform activities in the way and at the level of a healthy person and for whom the medical assessment authorities have estimated a level of reduced working capacity of 50% or more'. This medical assessment is determinant to access all sorts of disability allowances, cash benefits and services. Such references may be found in the Social Security Code, which provides for pensions and other disability allowances, in the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act providing for monthly integration benefits, in the Social Assistance Act, which gives access to cash benefits and services, in the Law on Family Support and Child Benefits, which grants public resources for raising children, in the Education Act, which allows for school enrolment, in the Public Health Act, in the Employment Promotion Act, which provides for special treatment on the workplace, in the Corporate Taxes Act granting tax holidays for special enterprises and in the Taxation of Individuals Act, which stipulates tax privileges for disabled people. The rate of different benefits is determined in reference to the monthly subsistence cost established by the Government on year-by-year basis (currently it is EUR 33). The size of the individual benefit depends on the type and severity of the impairment and the income of a person. Disabled people are also entitled to a non-reported cash payment for assistance of up to 10 hours a year, which is an extra allowance for income support in the form of assistance service. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 17:39:45 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Social Security Code [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/1597824512 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135491478 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135497213 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Social Assistance Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2134405633 ) [4] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Social Assistance Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/-13038592 ) ) ) [29] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D7. Additional costs [theme_slug] => d7-additional-costs [theme_id] => 29 [contents] => The Regulations for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act (Art.39 and the following) provides for one-time targeted fixed disability benefits - for purchase/adaptation of a car - EUR 615 (for persons with over 90% of reduced working capacity who work or study and if the monthly income of each member of the person’s family is smaller than EUR 100 during the last 12 months); for adaptation of a house – EUR 300 (for persons with over 90 % of reduced working capacity using wheelchairs if the monthly income of each members in the person’s family is smaller than EUR 65 during the last 12 months) and for purchase and repair of 14 enlisted medical appliances and devices – the size of the benefit is determined by the minister of social policy, minister of finance and minister of economics.
No provisions for other additional costs are available through the law. Numerous charities run fundraising campaigns to help disabled people cover the extra cost of compensation for the deficit caused by the impairment. Bulgarian Christmas is the largest initiative launched by the Bulgarian President. Donors’ Message Service DMS is run by the Bulgarian Donors' Forum and collects donations through text messages. [update_date] => 2017-05-09 17:46:16 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Bulgarian Christmas [url] => https://www.bgkoleda.bg/ ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Bulgarian Donors' Forum [url] => http://www.dfbulgaria.org ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Regulation for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135497213 ) ) ) [30] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => D. Independent living [theme_title] => D8. Retirement income [theme_slug] => d8-retirement-income [theme_id] => 30 [contents] => Retirement, in terms of age and years of work service, is not relevant as disabled Bulgarians acquire retirement status when they are granted disability status and are entitled to a disability pension and all other related benefits. Nevertheless, they may continue working and receive their salaries and pensions at the same time. However, the employment among disabled people is not as high as among the non-disabled population, but the legal option exists for this. In addition, if the disability status is acquired at retirement age, a disability pension is granted based on an individual assessment of the level of disability, duration of work service, amount of social security contributions during the work period, etc. As of 1 January 2015 if another pension is received by the person with disability, the social pension for disability status (which currently is EUR 65) is terminated. [update_date] => 2017-05-31 14:58:05 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => National Social Security Institute [url] => http://www.noi.bg/pensions ) ) ) [32] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => E. Education [theme_title] => E1. Special schools [theme_slug] => e1-special-schools [theme_id] => 32 [contents] => Mainstream schools are not allowed to refuse enrolment of a child with special needs, and if this happens, parents may complain. However, schools are not generally prepared to accommodate the needs of such children and most parents opt for special education or individual learning programmes (teachers visit students at home), which happens upon referral from a Panel of Educational Experts within the Regional Education Authorities by residence of the applicant. The Bulgarian education system remains dominated by segregated forms of teaching and learning, although for the last 15 years inclusive education has significantly developed. The new 2016 Preschool and School Education Act provides that the former special schools for children with intellectual disabilities will function as Centres for Special Educational Support (municipal and state) that are established to: perform diagnostic, rehabilitation and therapeutic work with children with special needs after being assessed as such by inclusive education departments; provide teaching and psychological support; implement programs for training of the families of students with special needs; provide education at the compulsory school age as well as vocational training of students with special needs (Art.49, para.2). As there is not any publicly available statistical data about the number of students in these schools in 2017, data from the planned budget standards of the Ministry of Education was reviewed. According to it, 2,722 children study in centres for special educational support in 2017. The annual allowances per child who studies in special schools are: BGN 4,565 (EUR 2,341) for centres for special educational support (and BGN 8,337 (EUR 4,275) when the centre is with a boarding house); BGN 9,891 (EUR 5,072) for special schools for children with sight disabilities on boarding house (317 such children study in such schools) and BGN 9,544 (EUR 4,894) for special schools for children with hearing disabilities on boarding house (401 children study in such schools). However, a large proportion of disabled children remain outside the education system (children with extensive disabilities and complex needs, as well as those in residential care). [update_date] => 2017-07-25 11:33:00 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Preschool and School Education Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2136641509 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ordinance for Inclusive Education [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2136927891 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Education, 2017 Planned Budget for Schools according to ME information [url] => http://www.mon.bg/?go=page&pageId=9&subpageId=66 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Education, 2017 Planned Budget for Schools according to the State Budget Act [url] => http://www.mon.bg/?go=page&pageId=9&subpageId=66 ) ) ) [33] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => E. Education [theme_title] => E2. Mainstream schools [theme_slug] => e2-mainstream-schools [theme_id] => 33 [contents] => The new Preschool and School Education Act (PSEA) was enforced on 1 August 2016. It introduces the concept that education aims at personal development of the students and acquiring of key competences for their personal and professional development as well as understanding and implementing values like: sustainable development, democratic principles, tolerance, human rights, cultural heritage, global development processes etc. The act provides for the components of the right to education – life-long learning and inclusive education (Art.7) and provides that school education in state and municipal schools is free of charge after the compulsory school age (Art.9, para.2.). The PSEA does not allow for discrimination on any grounds, including disabilities. Children with disabilities are enrolled in mainstream schools, special schools or in centres for special educational support depending on their assessment by Regional Education Panels and the wish of their parents/guardians. The law provides for the establishment of the municipal centres for personal support to develop interests, potential, competencies of students in science, arts and sports; to provide career guidance; to provide resource support to students with special needs; to ensure teaching and psychological support; to implement programmes for training of parents and to perform preventative, diagnostic, rehabilitation and resocialisation activities with students (Art.49). These centres together with Centres for Special Educational Support provide additional support to students with special needs.

An Ordinance for Inclusive Education issued by the Council of Ministers on 4 November 2016 provides detailed rules for the qualification and work of the staff, for the requirements, terms, activities, cooperation and coordination between educational institutions in provision of education, diagnostic, therapeutic and other services for special educational support in mainstream and special schools and kindergartens. It also determines the way in which individual plans for education and development are elaborated, updated and implemented and the procedure for assessment and certification of the acquired knowledge and skills in inclusive education.
New Ordinance for the State Requirements for Professional Qualification of Teachers was adopted on 11 November 2016 which among other matters increases the overall training units (with 30 to 50 %) and introduces training in inclusive and dual education. Another Ordinance from 1 September 2016 provides for the status and professional/carrier development of teachers and other pedagogical staff. Several projects for raising professional qualification of over 17,000 teachers are ongoing. State budget for education was increased with BGN 230 million (EUR 115 million ) in 2017 allocated for raising teachers’ remuneration, inclusive education, etc.
The 2017 budget estimates show that around 14,000 students use resource support for some learning problem or disability while studying in mainstream schools. The annual allowance for resource support in mainstream schools per child with special needs is BGN 2,190 (EUR 1,123). [update_date] => 2017-07-25 11:42:05 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Preschool and School Education Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2136641509 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ordinance for Inclusive Education [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2136927891 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Education, 2017 Planned Budget for Schools according to the State Budget Act [url] => http://www.mon.bg/?go=page&pageId=9&subpageId=66 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Education, 2014-2016 Report of the Activities [url] => http://www.mon.bg/?go=page&pageId=9&subpageId=66 ) ) ) [34] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => E. Education [theme_title] => E3. Sign language and Braille in school [theme_slug] => e3-sign-language-and-braille-in-school [theme_id] => 34 [contents] => There is no reference to learning Braille or sign language in mainstream schools and no special provision to this end. Braille and sign language are subjects of teaching in special schools only. According to the 2016 Preschool and School Education Act schools for children with sensory disabilities are special and they provide primary and high school education as well as vocational training (Art 44). [update_date] => 2017-05-10 13:42:37 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Preschool and School Education Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2136641509 ) ) ) [35] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => E. Education [theme_title] => E4. Vocational training [theme_slug] => e4-vocational-training [theme_id] => 35 [contents] => The new 2016 Preschool and School Education Act refers to Vocational Education and Training Act (VETA) for specific matters related to vocational training including for students with disabilities. VETA introduced dual education and training in 2016. The 2016 amendments of VETA provide for validation of acquired knowledge and skills by informal education for the purpose of continuation of vocational training and access to labour market (Art.5). The 2014 and 2016 amendments in VETA regulated in details the four levels of acquiring vocational skills and the prerequisites for each of them in terms of finished levels of education. Centres for special educational support have also right to teach students with disabilities in vocational training for the first level of professional qualification (Art.9, para.5). However, vocational training of persons over 16 years of age in state and municipal schools is to be paid by the trainee (Art.14b, para.4).
According to the National Statistical Institute data in 2015/2016 academic year there were 2,014 mainstream schools, 46 special schools for children with intellectual disabilities (with 2,427 students), five special schools for children with sight and hearing disabilities (with 588 students) and 387 mainstream vocational training high schools with around 93,000 students in them. No data is publicly available about the students with disabilities enrolled in mainstream schools including in vocational training high schools. The lack of data makes it impossible to assess the impact of the new legislative provisions on students and young persons with disabilities.
The Vocational Education and Training Act does not explicitly prohibit discrimination but provides that vocational education of students with disabilities should be done in accordance with their health condition - the students with sensory disabilities are to be trained in professions “appropriate” for them and the students with intellectual disabilities are trained in part of profession or 1st level of professional qualification (Art.32). The policy and strategic documents do not contain any information about vocational skills programmes (or professions in which training is offered) in which young persons with disabilities may be involved.
The 2016-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) envisages elaboration of new curricula and vocational training modules for students with disabilities at post-compulsory age and organisation of vocational training courses for students with disabilities at the vocational training high schools in 2017. [update_date] => 2017-05-10 13:41:33 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Vocational Education and Training Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2134673921 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => National Statistical Institute [url] => http://www.nsi.bg/bg/content/3479/%D1%81%D0%BF%D0%B5%D1%86%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BD%D0%B8-%D1%83%D1%87%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%89%D0%B0-%D0%BF%D0%BE-%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => 2016-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) [url] => https://www.mlsp.government.bg/index.php?section=POLICIESI&I=282 ) ) ) [36] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => E. Education [theme_title] => E5. Higher education [theme_slug] => e5-higher-education [theme_id] => 36 [contents] => The Higher Education Act does not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disabilities. It does not include an explicit obligation on colleges and universities to accommodate the needs of disabled students and report on the measures taken. The Act provides for easier access to university education (depending on the internal regulations of each university) of persons with permanent disabilities and over 70 % of reduced working capacity (Art.68) and for the right to support during the studies (Art.70). The 2016-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) envisaged the introduction in 2016 of a university education fee-waiver and facilitated access to scholarships for persons with over 70 % of reduced working capacity. A review of most university websites shows that some of them waive their admission fees for disabled applicants but fewer have provided appropriate accommodations for disabled students. Most universities announce equal opportunities policies but no evidence could be traced of special measures to implement them (administrative or resource allocations). [update_date] => 2017-05-31 15:12:57 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Higher Education Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2133647361 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Council of Ministers: 2016-2018 Action Plan for Implementation of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2020) [url] => https://www.mlsp.government.bg/index.php?section=POLICIESI&I=282 ) ) ) [38] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => F. Employment [theme_title] => F1. Non-discrimination in employment [theme_slug] => f1-non-discrimination-in-employment [theme_id] => 38 [contents] => Article 2 of the Employment Promotion Act prohibits direct or indirect discrimination on the disability grounds. Under the Labour Code employers who have hired over 50 employees must determine annually job positions appropriate for persons with disabilities of 4 to 10 % of all positions depending on the type of economic activity. The concrete share of the job positions for persons with disabilities for each economic activity is determined by the Minister of labour and social policy and the Minister of healthcare. Out of all job positions determined under the Labour Code the employer must determine at least 50 % for persons with permanent disabilities. The employer should inform the Employment Departments for these job positions and must announce the vacant ones in 14 days after their determination. The Labour Code also provides for protection against dismissal – no matter what the reason for dismissal, the employer has to go through a procedure to acquire an approval from the Labour Inspection Office and the Expert Medical Panel. The Employment Promotion Act contains several provisions for subsidized employment options concerning persons with permanent disabilities (Art.36, para.2; Art. 51, para.2; Art.52) and one – for supported employment (Art. 43a introduced in 2015). [update_date] => 2017-07-18 17:46:42 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Labour Code [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/1594373121 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Employment Promotion Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/-12262909 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Labour Inspection Agency [url] => http://www.gli.government.bg/page.php?c=41 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Ministry of Healthcare: Ordinance RD-07-1 of 2 February 2012 for determination of workplaces, appropriate for persons with reduced working capacity [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135775738 ) ) ) [39] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => F. Employment [theme_title] => F2. Public employment services [theme_slug] => f2-public-employment-services [theme_id] => 39 [contents] => The Employment Promotion Act imposes an obligation on the Employment Agency to ensure support for job-seekers through its local employment offices. They should all assist clients with and without disabilities. Annually a National Programme for Employment and Training of Persons with Permanent Disabilities is adopted to raise employability and to ensure training and subsidized employment to persons with permanent disabilities registered as job-seekers at the local employment departments.
In addition, the Human Resource Development Programme (one of the operational programmes for use of the EU Structural Funds) has a key priority of ‘increased employment rates’. Several significant schemes focused on training and employment of disadvantaged groups on the labour market (among which are persons with disabilities) are ongoing.
According to the 2015-2020 Action Plan for the Implementation of the UNCRPD legislative amendments for introduction of promotion employment mechanisms in regular and specialized environment as well as supported employment should be elaborated and adopted until 2020. [update_date] => 2017-07-18 17:56:35 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Employment Agency [url] => https://www.az.government.bg/ ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Agency for Persons with Disabilities [url] => http://ahu.mlsp.government.bg/ ) ) ) [40] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => F. Employment [theme_title] => F3. Workplace adaptations [theme_slug] => f3-workplace-adaptations [theme_id] => 40 [contents] => Under the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act the employer is obliged to provide reasonable accommodation for the person with disability unless the expenses for it are unreasonably high and would be a serious burden for the employer (Art.24). The government has to promote employment of disabled people, inter alia through providing support to employers willing to hire disabled people. Since 2010 the employers may apply with projects at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) for funding for ensuring access to the workplace, adaptation of the workplace and equipment of the workplace of the person with permanent disability (Art.25). The APD annually determines the amount of the project funding for employers which it administers. It signs contracts with the employers and provides the funding for approved projects to them. The APD mentions in its 2016 report that the employers are obliged to keep persons with disabilities for at least 36 months in order to achieve sustainability of the program.
According to the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act, if the employer does not receive funding under the Employment Promotion Act, he/she may receive: 1) funding from the state budget for 30% of the paid by him/her social, health and additional pension security contributions for his/her employees with disabilities under the Regulations for Implementation of the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act; 2) expenses for access, adaptation and equipment of the workplace which are reported in the accounting and tax documents. The APD controls the expenditure of the abovementioned funding. The APD reported that in 2016, only 20 employers applied for this program and 15 were approved with the total amount of BGN 266,671 (EUR 136,754) and thus 45 workplaces for persons with disabilities were adapted and equipped. However, the APD notes that private companies do not apply for this kind of funding.
The amount of funding provided by the APD, however, is fixed at minimum level and regardless of the individual needs of disabled people. There is no personal assistance or transportation allowance for disabled employees. Amounts of funding are: for physical access to the work place EUR 5,128; for adjustments of the work place EUR 2,051 and for equipment at the work place: EUR 3,076. [update_date] => 2017-07-18 18:02:30 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135491478 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Agency for Persons with Disabilities, 2016 Activity Report [url] => http://ahu.mlsp.government.bg/home/ ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Guidelines for application for funding for workplace adaptations [url] => http://ahu.mlsp.government.bg/portal/page/8 ) ) ) [41] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => F. Employment [theme_title] => F4. Financial incentives [theme_slug] => f4-financial-incentives [theme_id] => 41 [contents] => The Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act contains a section on employment where mainstream employment is mentioned, and the quota system and specialised enterprises are regulated in a comprehensive manner. Article 29 of the Аct requires the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to keep a pubic register of specialised enterprises and to provide funding for their business development projects on top of subsidies granted for having disabled people on the payroll. There are also taxation laws that stipulate incentives for the self-employment of disabled people in addition to start-up business grants provided by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (Art.31). The APD reports that the interest to these grants is very high. In 2016 the total of 163 persons with disabilities applied for funding out of whom only 36 projects were approved and implemented at the total amount of BGN 647,767 (EUR 332,188). People with disability are entitled to double tax-free income levels. Employers of disabled people benefit from corporate tax relief proportionate to the number of the disabled people hired in the business, while special enterprises are totally exempt from paying corporate taxes on the profits they make, as well as from paying local taxes. Provided that these businesses are members of national umbrella organisations, they are entitled to a 50% return on the social security contributions of the employer. The Employment Agency, along with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) run disability programmes that support the demand side of the labour market. Under these programmes, employers may apply for funding to employ disabled people if they make a commitment to maintain the job for 36 months. The allocated money is earmarked for minimum monthly salaries over 12 months plus social and health security contributions. However, disabled employees under these programmes are not provided with access to individual support on the job such as personal assistance, mobility allowance, etc. According to the report about the implementation of the 2016 National Programme for Training and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, during the period January-November 2016, there were 1,227 persons involved in these activities. The average monthly number of employed persons with disabilities under the programme is 1,169 and the allocated funding was BGN 5,666,700 (approx. EUR 2,833,350). [update_date] => 2017-07-18 18:18:25 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Individuals Income Taxation Act [url] => http://lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135538631 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Employment Promotion Act [url] => http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/-12262909 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Ministry of Labour and Social Policy: Report about the Implementation of the 2016 National Employment Action Plan [url] => https://www.mlsp.government.bg/index.php?section=POLICIESI&I=249 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [title] => National Programme for Employment and Training of Persons with Permanent Disabilities [url] => https://www.az.government.bg/pages/nacionalna-programa-zohtu/ ) ) ) [43] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => G. Statistics and data collection [theme_title] => G1. Official research [theme_slug] => g1-official-research [theme_id] => 43 [contents] => National publicly available research is almost non-existent. Most research results come from international sources and are funded internationally. There is not much funding allocated for disability research. The most recent research commissioned by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) was carried out in 2008 - 2009 and the report was uploaded on the APD website (2009) and used as the basis for launching a tender procedure to set up a country wide database of disabled people. However, such a research had not been identified on this website in 2017. The Centre for Independent Living (NGO) carries out important and critical analysis and researches related to the UNCRPD, especially in the context of Art.19. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD envisages a concept paper for the needed legislative amendments concerning data collection and statistics (Art.31) to be elaborated until 2020. [update_date] => 2017-05-10 13:50:12 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Centre for Independent Living [url] => http://www.cil.bg/userfiles/nabliudatelnitsa/Report-Benefits-Final.pdf ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967 ) ) ) [44] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => G. Statistics and data collection [theme_title] => G2. Census data [theme_slug] => g2-census-data [theme_id] => 44 [contents] => The last Census was run in early 2011 and had a chapter on disabilities. The published results show that the total number of disabled people is 474,267, of which 9,039 are children. [update_date] => 2017-05-31 15:15:21 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => National Statistics Institute - Census 2011 Disabilities [url] => http://www.nsi.bg/EPDOCS/Census_Disability2011.pdf ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => National Statistics Institute - Census 2011 General Information [url] => http://www.nsi.bg/EPDOCS/Census2011final.pdf ) ) ) [45] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => G. Statistics and data collection [theme_title] => G3. Labour Force Survey [theme_slug] => g3-labour-force-survey [theme_id] => 45 [contents] => The Labour Force Survey in Bulgaria does not distinguish disability in labour activity statistics. Calculation of the employment/unemployment rates is data that is secured from other sources such as the Employment Agency, Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Disabled people were not included in the Labour Force Survey ad hoc module in 2002 and 2011. [update_date] => 2017-05-10 13:59:51 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => National Statistics Institute - Labour Force Survey [url] => http://www.nsi.bg/bg/content/3990/%D0%BD%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%BB%D1%8E%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B0-%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B0 ) ) ) [46] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => G. Statistics and data collection [theme_title] => G4. Disability equality indicators [theme_slug] => g4-disability-equality-indicators [theme_id] => 46 [contents] => There are no disability equality indicators established in Bulgaria. Most government disability-related initiatives state results in terms of 'clients served' or ‘increase in number’ but equality is not measured. [update_date] => 2012-03-23 14:18:45 [links] => Array ( ) ) [48] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => H. Awareness and external action [theme_title] => H1. Awareness raising programs [theme_slug] => h1-awareness-raising-programs [theme_id] => 48 [contents] => There are no special publically funded programmes targeted at awareness raising A few private donors offer funding opportunities to disabled people’s organisations to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), for instance the Special Initiatives of the Open Society Institute in New York. Awareness raising among disabled people is also limited - government funded Disabled People’s Organisations do not do this kind of work and other organisations capable of doing awareness raising are not funded for the purpose. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD contains awareness raising measures such as: application of communication strategy for change of societal attitude towards persons with disabilities; carrying out of a national round table and a conference about the UNCRPD; seminars for the State and municipal administration servants, employers etc.; seminars for members of organisations of and for persons with disabilities. [update_date] => 2017-05-10 14:07:32 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Open Society Foundation – Human Rights Initiatives [url] => http://www.soros.org/initiatives/rights-initiatives/focus/disability ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967 ) ) ) [49] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => H. Awareness and external action [theme_title] => H2. Training for teachers [theme_slug] => h2-training-for-teachers [theme_id] => 49 [contents] => After the adoption of the legislation on integrated education of children with special educational needs and the setting up of 28 resource centres around the country during the period of 2006 - 2010, teachers have been offered different training opportunities focusing on new teaching techniques and skills in handling mixed classes. This process was further facilitated by the career development provisions in the Public Education Act, which correlates training experience with the salary of the teachers. Training sessions are usually offered by universities conducting social pedagogy and special education courses. Education and training, however, are focused on the development of skills and not on attitudes. The new 2016 Preschool and School Education Act and the Ordinances adopted for its implementation provide for trainings of teachers in skills and techniques aimed at effective inclusive education. The 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD does not envisage any trainings for teachers. [update_date] => 2017-05-10 14:15:34 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967 ) ) ) [50] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => H. Awareness and external action [theme_title] => H3. Training for lawyers [theme_slug] => h3-training-for-lawyers [theme_id] => 50 [contents] => The Report on the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD mentions that four seminars are to be organised in the mid 2015. One of them was planned for judges, prosecutors and other judiciary officers. No other information in the public domain was identified about the training efforts to raise disability awareness among lawyers. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (NGO) and Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation (NGO), when they manage to get earmarked funding for the purpose from private donors, develop training sessions on discrimination and accessibility legislation, trial procedures and legal specifics, which sometimes but not always contain awareness raising sessions. [update_date] => 2017-07-25 11:44:37 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Bulgarian Helsinki Committee [url] => http://www.bghelsinki.org/en/ ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights [url] => http://www.blhr.org/en/ ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Report on the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=784 ) ) ) [51] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => H. Awareness and external action [theme_title] => H4. Training for doctors [theme_slug] => h4-training-for-doctors [theme_id] => 51 [contents] => The Report on the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UN CRPD mentions that a training seminar with doctors and other medical staff working with persons with disabilities is planned to be organised in 2015 under a EU funded project. However, no other information was identified about this training. [update_date] => 2017-07-25 11:48:07 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => Report on the Implementation of the 2013-2014 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=784 ) ) ) [52] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => H. Awareness and external action [theme_title] => H5. Training for engineers [theme_slug] => h5-training-for-engineers [theme_id] => 52 [contents] => Information on this item is not yet available [update_date] => 2012-03-23 14:18:46 [links] => Array ( ) ) [53] => stdClass Object ( [parent] => H. Awareness and external action [theme_title] => H6. International development aid [theme_slug] => h6-international-development-aid [theme_id] => 53 [contents] => According to the 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD unified guidelines for international cooperation (Art.32) should be elaborated until 2020. [update_date] => 2017-05-10 14:26:24 [links] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [title] => 2015-2020 Action Plan for Implementation of the UNCRPD [url] => http://www.strategy.bg/StrategicDocuments/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=967 ) ) ) ) ) ) )