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An international perspective on inclusion: delegation from Brazil visits the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

How can inclusion work? What benefits are available to people with disabilities? And how are disabilities classified? Questions such as these were the focus of the exchange of ideas with a delegation from Brazil that visited the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs from 22 to 24 February 2016. The background of the visit was a project that was agreed on last year as part of the German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations.

When welcoming the delegation, State Secretary Yasmin Fahimi made the following statement:

The question of which instruments we use to classify disabilities is a key issue for the people with disabilities, one we discuss in international contexts. It is a starting point for real participation, from which we are still a long way away in many areas. It is urgent that we change this.

State Secretary Fahimi added that this imperative derived not only from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She went on to say that economic factors play a significant role in inclusion in the labour market: We can not afford to do without the skills and potential of an entire group of people - neither in Germany nor in Brazil.

Of central interest for the Brazilian delegation during their three-day stay was the question of how the "International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)" of the World Health Organization (WHO) is applied in Germany. In the ICF, the WHO gave up the purely medical classification of disability in 2001 and extended it to include the "biopsychosocial" approach. This approach sees disability not as an individual deficit, but rather includes barriers related to social and environmental factors in the classification of disability.

In addition to various technical presentations on the German social system and the implementation of the UNCRPD in Germany, the programme also included talks about how important the ICF is in medical assessment in Germany, for example in the issuing of severely disabled person's passes. Visits to the institutions responsible for Germany's statutory accident insurance (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung) and the statutory pension insurance scheme (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) also offered insights into the assessment practice in the social insurance institutions and their participation benefits for people with disabilities. Also on the programme were visits to the Emergency Hospital Marzahn, a rehabilitation clinic in Hoppegarten and a vocational retraining centre, the Berufsförderungswerk Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.

As part of the project, a study comparing Germany and Brazil will be produced by the summer of 2016. In this study, the German model of assessment of disabilities for the purpose of granting social insurance benefits will be examined and compared with the Brazilian model. This will be presented at a wrap-up event in Brazil in October 2016, to which the Brazilian delegation invited the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.