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Approved by the IPU Governing Council at its 183rd session
(Geneva, 14 October 2008)

    Policy statement

  1. The Inter-Parliamentary Union will implement practical measures to create and maintain inclusive, barrier-free environments to enable the participation of persons with disabilities in the work of the Organization. The IPU will put disabilities in the mainstream so that accessibility and the duty to accommodate are incorporated in all relevant policies and programs, by all those normally involved in policy-making and programming. Accessibility involves providing equal access to facilities and services to all, including persons with disabilities, and reasonable accommodation means making necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments for disabled persons without imposing a disproportionate or undue burden on the IPU.

  2. The IPU will encourage member parliaments to take action so that persons with disabilities can achieve the transition from exclusion to equality.

  3. The IPU will seek a representative Secretariat that is open to persons with disabilities, where opportunities in work are based on merit and all employees feel included and valued. This policy is to be implemented, up to the point of undue hardship taking into consideration issues of health, safety and cost by:
    • Facilitating the participation of people with disabilities in the various programs of the Union, including Assemblies, meetings, seminars and other events;
    • Building accommodation into relevant policies, standards, systems, processes and facilities;
    • Employing a variety of ways and means to communicate, and providing information in multiple formats to accommodate diverse needs;
    • Identifying and removing barriers to employment, career development and promotion of persons with disabilities, and accommodating individuals when such barriers cannot be removed.


  4. Persons with disabilities are persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment and who declare themselves disadvantaged by reason of that impairment. Examples of types of disabilities that may require accommodation are listed in the attached Guidelines.

    Policy requirements

  5. The IPU shall:

    As an advocate, with member parliaments, supporting democracy and the institution of parliament:

    • Raise awareness of the convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol;
    • Encourage States to ratify or accede to the Convention and its optional protocol;
    • Encourage law makers to translate the convention into national law;
    • Promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities;
    • Encourage parliamentarians to make society more accessible;
    • Encourage parliamentarians to demand periodic reporting;
    • Include a perspective on disability in technical assistance projects;

    As a convenor of meetings

    • As much as possible, choose physically accessible venues;
    • Offer live assistance and intermediaries to assist persons with disabilities;
    • Remove communications barriers by offering:
      - Sign language interpreters;
      - Assistive listening devices;
      - Transcripts of speeches; or
      - Alternate formats of meeting materials and other information;
    • Modify policies, practices and procedures to accommodate disabilities;
    • Use publicity and pre-registration for planning and ask participants to identify their special needs;
    • Ensure staff awareness and sensitivity;
    • Enlist cooperation and support of third parties, including host parliaments.

    As a provider of public information

    • Ensure that the website conforms with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Priority 1 checkpoints and set a longer term goal to reach a higher standard by 2010;
    • Promote the availability of publications in multiple formats on request:
      - Audio;
      - Availability on portable electronic storage media;
      - Large Print;
      - On screen Text.
    • Familiarize all order desks with multiple formats and prepare them for requests;
    • Create a full-text template for all publications as publications are first developed;
    • For inaccessible exhibitions, another version of the exhibition, such as a video display, shall be provided in an accessible area.

    As a facility manager,

    • Provide barrier-free access to the Union’s facilities in Geneva and New York;
    • Ensure sufficient conditions to guarantee health and safety for all users;
    • Document any exemption from accessibility requirements and the rationale for the exemption.

    As a potential employer,

    • Ensure that the selection process does not discriminate against persons with disabilities, unless the requirement is a bona fide occupational requirement;
    • Ensure that employment opportunities are advertised in an accessible format;
    • Ensure that assessment methods, including tests and interviews, accurately assess the qualifications required, do not constitute barriers and assess candidates fairly;
    • Accommodate individual candidates with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship; and
    • Inform all candidates of this policy and the procedure for obtaining accommodation during the staffing process.

    As an employer,

    • Create and maintain an inclusive, barrier-free work environment that is accessible;
    • Identify any barriers to employees with disabilities, and remove those barriers;
    • When barriers cannot be removed, efforts will be made to accommodate individual employees with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship, by:
      - providing and paying for technical aids, equipment and services for employees with disabilities as well as repairs to such aids and equipment;
    • Consult employees with disabilities, including employees with learning disabilities, with respect to:
      - any design, changes or upgrades to physical structures, new or existing systems or equipment so that the workplace is accessible to employees with disabilities, and
      - the planning and design of work-related events and conferences so that all events and opportunities are accessible to employees with disabilities;
    • Inform all employees of this policy and the procedure for obtaining accommodation.

    Implementation and Monitoring

  6. The Secretary General is responsible for ensuring the implementation of this policy, assessing and evaluating its effectiveness and reporting thereon to the Governing Bodies.

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 119th Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 595K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader