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Costa Rica and Disability Rights Law a comparative look to International and US Law


This is very important considering the landscape of Costa Rica. ... Costa Rica's law mandates that people with disabilities in both urban and rural ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Costa Rica and Disability Rights Law a comparative look to International and US Law

Costa Rica and Disability Rights Law a
comparative look to International and US Law
  • Erica Dean
  • Chaim Eliyah
  • Ursula Jennings
  • Jill Salo
  • LSJ/CHID 434

(No Transcript)
  • In the past forty years, an increased awareness
    about people with disabilities and their rights
    has led to the creation of numerous pieces of
    legislation regarding the status of disabled
    people and their relationships to their

Introduction Continued
  • Beginning in 1973 with the Rehabilitation Act in
    the United States and continuing today at the
    United Nations with the Convention on the Rights
    of Persons with Disabilities, countries now look
    to each other when drafting legislation.

Introduction Continued
  • With a national Equal Opportunities Law for
    Persons with Disabilities, also known as Ley
    (Law) 7600, and as a signatory to the UN
    Convention mentioned above, Costa Rica is one of
    these such countries working to improve the
    rights of people with disabilities in all facets
    of life.

Costa Rica is located in Central America,
bordering Panama and Nicaragua. Population of
4.1 million About the size of West Virginia
Has an advanced hospital system when compared
with other Central American countries.
Terrain Coastal plains separated by rugged
mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of
which several are major volcanoes Life
expectancy at birth for the total
population is 77.21 years Literacy rate of 96
Approx. 10 of the population is identified as
having a disability. 6.09 of men and 5.76 of
Law 7600 A Brief Summary
  • Section 1 Covers broad definitions, defines
    disability as Any physical, mental, or sensory
    impairment which substantially limits one or more
    of an individual's major activities (
  • Section 2 Outlines fundamental principles for
    accommodation includes broad statement defining
    states responsibility for providing services and
    programs for people with disabilities.

Summary Cont.
  • Section 3 Focuses on different components of
    society, such as access to education (Art. 1),
    employment (Art. 2), health services (Art. 3),
    and transportation (Art. 5)
  • Also emphasized is importance of job training and
    government assistance for employers

Summary Cont.
  • Section 4 Details sanctions that come with
    violations (fines for discriminatory practices
    and/or derogatory remarks) and enforcement
  • Clarifies housekeeping issues such as the process
    for legal complaints outlines budget
    allocations, etc.

Examples of main roadways. Notice that while
some streets have sidewalks, others dont have
much room for any pedestrians at all.
Law 7600 and Human Rights
  • The existence of Law 7600, Equality of
    Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, was
    created in 1996 and demonstrates some of the
    problems faced by Costa Rican society in terms of
    availability of social, educational and
    vocational services to those with disabilities.
  • The ideology behind this law is human rights
    based and is centered around the concepts of
    equality and autonomy.

Human Rights documents as they pertain to persons
with disabilities
  • The human rights instruments that most directly
    influenced the creation of Law 7600 were the
    ICCPR and the ICESCR.
  • The language of autonomy contained in Law 7600
    can be attributed to the first Article of each of
    these covenants, which guarantees the right of
    all peoples to self determination.

Relevant Articles from the ICCPR
  • Article 2 requires states to ensure to all
    individuals…the rights recognized in the present
    Covenant, without distinction of any kind this
    is reflected in Law 7600 in many places, most
    notably in Title III and Title IV, which mandate
    accommodations and remedies.
  • Article 16 provides legal protection against the
    construction of those with disabilities from
    being considered less than full persons. This is
    sufficiently implemented, at least in terms of
    the law, in Law 7600 an example is Article 6 of
    the second Chapter of Title I, which states that
    When, for whatever reason or purpose, the
    subject of disability is dealt with or utilized,
    it should be presented as reemphasizing dignity
    and equality among human beings. By no means
    should information with stereotypical or
    derogatory messages about disability be issued….

Relevant Articles from the ICESCR
  • Article 6, which ensures the right to work. Law
    7600 represents the attempt of the state of Costa
    Rica to include technical and vocational
    guidance and training programs, policies and
    techniques to achieve steady economic, social and
    cultural development and full and productive
  • Article 9 protects social security for those who
    are truly unable to work Law 7600 ensures that
    the CCSS, or Caja Costarricense de Seguridad
    Social, is as accessible to people with
    disabilities as to any other person. However, it
    is unclear whether these provisions can lead to
    institutionalization in the case of one who is
    unable to work and does not stay with family.
  • Further outlined in this document is the
    protection of education, including higher
    education. Law 7600 deals with this extensively
    in Title II.

Sidewalk at a popular Tico park.
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
  • Opened for signature on March 30, 2007
  • Costa Rica signed both the document and the
    optional protocol on this date.
  • Member states include China, Brazil, Cuba,
    Sudan, Korea and 120 others…but not the United

The Conventions definition of Disability
  • Disability Disability is an evolving concept
    and that disability results from the interaction
    between persons with impairments and attitudinal
    and environmental barriers that hinders their
    full and effective participation in society on an
    equal basis with others (Preamble section e).
  •  Persons with disabilities - Article 1 states
    that (p)ersons with disabilities include those
    who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual
    or sensory impairments which in interaction with
    various barriers may hinder their full and
    effective participation in society on an equal
    basis with others. 

Convention compared to Ley 7600
Both statutes recognize…
  • The importance the family plays in eliminating
    discrimination against persons with disabilities
    in all matters relating to marriage, family,
    parenthood and relationships (Article 23), (CR -
    Article 3).
  • Explicit inclusion of women and children in the
    Convention, recognizing the double discrimination
    they face (Articles 6,7).
  • Inclusion in cultural activities, including
    sports, recreation and leisure (Article 30) (CR
    Article 3).
  • The right to work is very protected, with lengthy
    instructions in each document, including people
    with disabilities be able to work on an equal
    basis with others this includes the right to the
    opportunity to gain a living by work freely
    chosen or accepted in a labor market and work
    environment that is open, inclusive and
    accessible to persons with disabilities (Article
    27) (CR Articles 23-30).
  • Also included but not limited to
  • Right to Health (Article 25) (CR- Articles 31-40)
  • Right to Privacy (Article 22) (CR Article 40)
  • Right to Education (Article 24) (CR Articles

Further comparison
  • In Article 23 of Ley 7600, the State recognizes
    the right to work includes that persons with
    disabilities of rural and urban areas the right
    to an adequate job, considering their personal
    conditions and needs. This is very important
    considering the landscape of Costa Rica.
  • Ley 7600, Article 41 sets specific standards for
    access issues to physical space, whereas the
    Convention merely asserts the right to mobility.
  • Example New constructions or remodeling of
    existing buildings, parks, sidewalks, gardens,
    plazas, lanes, restrooms, and other public
    spaces, must be performed in compliance with the
    mandatory technical specifications issued by the
    corresponding public or private entities Article
  • Ley 7600 outlines numerical amounts for fines
    related to discrimination against people with
  • Example 5000 colones (10 US dollars) for parking
    in a designated disabled parking spot

An example of a Costa Rican wheelchair.
Comparison to Section 504 of HEW
  • Main goal of 504 to prohibit organizations that
    receive federal funding from discriminating based
    on disability
  • Law 7600 does not outline a similarly explicit
  • Art. 8 Program/service that receives government
    funding must comply with the dispositions of
    this law

504 Comparison Cont.
  • Art. 18 Students with disabilities must comply
    to same educational standards and respond to the
    same norms and aspirations that guide the
    national education system (
  • Requires state to ensure everyone access to
    education regardless of disability - Ministry of
    Education must come up with necessary support,
    assistance, resources and training to make this

504 Comparison Cont.
  • Art. 5 focuses on transportation mandates
    public transit must be accessible to everyone
  • By means of an internal policy avoiding
    discrimination because of disability, educators,
    employers, and institutional authorities must
    sustain conditions of personal respect at work
    and in study environments (

Another example of road construction in Costa
Rica, exacerbated by the torrential rains.
Comparison with the ADA Similarities
Comparison with the ADA Differences

Costa Ricas Law 7600 covers many more aspects of
the social sphere. There is a deep commitment to
enable persons with disabilities to achieve
their maximum development, full participation in
society by ensuring equal opportunities for
the Costa Rican population in areas that include
health, education, work, family life, recreation,
sports, culture and other dimensions.
Comparisons with the ADA Differences
  • Legal Representation
  • Exercise their right to self-determination and to
    participate in the decision making process.
  • To have a permanent representation, 25 at the
    government institution in charge of disability
    issues of the country.
  • Legally constituted organizations of persons with
    disabilities must be consulted by the
    institutions in charge of planning, implementing,
    and evaluating services and actions in the field
    of disability.

This pool is not accessible. The only way to get
in and out is to use the ladder.
In conclusion…
  • While we have made gains in human rights for
    people with disabilities, there are still many
    more obstacles to be overcome.
  • Article 11 of Law 7600 obligates family members
    of those with disabilities to foster a sense of
    dignity and help the disabled family member
    exercise their rights fully whereas in the US
    disability rights are still very limited to the
    public sphere.
  • Costa Ricas law mandates that people with
    disabilities in both urban and rural areas have
    the right to an adequate job.

In conclusion…
  • Costa Rica has an impressive collection of
    national and international legal documents
    intended to provide benefits for those with
  • Costa Ricas law gives the sense, through its
    language, of creating an even more accessible
    environment than we have here in the United
    States. The problem, however, is implementation.
    Compared to the United States, Costa Ricas state
    infrastructure is relatively weak, and so the
    ability of the state to provide or demand
    accommodation is limited. Hopefully this will
    change over time.

Works Cited
  • Fleischer Doris and Freida Zames (2001).
    Groundbreaking Disability Rights Legislation
    Section 504. In The Disability Rights Movement.
    Philadelphia Temple University Press.
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
    International Covenant on Civil and Political
    Rights. United Nations 1966. 24 February 2008
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
    International Covenant on Economic, Social and
    Cultural Rights. United Nations 1966. 24
    February 2008 http//
  • Rivera, Oscar G (Translator). The Equal
    Opportunities Law for Persons with Disabilities
    (Law 7600). Retrieved February 12, 2007, from
    DREDF Website http//
  • United Nations. United Nations Enable Promoting
    the rights of persons with disabilities. 2007.
    Retrieved February 12, 2007, from United Nations
    Website http//
  • Other websites of interest
  • http//
  • https//