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Reflection and exchange on the coronavirus pandemic with regard to the situation of people with disabilities

Concerns about a new lockdown in sheltered workshops

NRW Commissioner for People with Disabilities, Claudia Middendorf, discussed with stakeholders in integration assistance

In light of rising coronavirus case numbers, social scientists and stakeholders in integration assistance are warning of another lockdown for people with disabilities. "We now need more differentiated solutions," demands Prof. Dr. Michael Boecker from Fachhochschule Dortmund.

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was right to react quickly and close workshops for people with disabilities as a precautionary measure. However, it must now also be taken into account "that not every person with a disability automatically belongs to the risk group," says Prof. Boecker. In recent years, there has rightly been an increased focus on participation in working life as part of self-determination. These standards must continue to apply during the pandemic.

The workshops have only been open again since September 21 with the obligation to operate at full capacity. However, the workplace is not only a place of participation, but also a place of care for relatives, for example, according to the social scientist from Fachhochschule Dortmund.

With regard to inpatient residential facilities, Prof. Dr. Michael Boecker and those involved in integration assistance are also calling on politicians to treat people with disabilities with sensitivity. Despite all concerns about health integrity, individual and facility-related pandemic measures must be taken in future that respect the participation rights of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the independence of people with disabilities. Month-long bans on visits contradict this. "Integration assistance facilities cannot be lumped together with care homes," emphasizes the researcher.

Together with Dr. Michael Weber, Managing Director of the Heilpädagogisches Zentrum Krefeld/Kreis Viersen, Professor Boecker invited representatives from academia and politics as well as stakeholders in integration assistance to a symposium in Dortmund on 21 September 2020. The focus was on discussing the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic with Claudia Middendorf, the state commissioner for people with disabilities and patients in North Rhine-Westphalia. She had explicitly requested the meeting in order to receive feedback from the field. Due to the pandemic, the number of participants was significantly reduced compared to previous years. Stephan Kohorst, Managing Partner of Dr. Ausbüttel & Co GmbH, had invited the guests to the symposium on the premises of the Dortmund-based family business. Dr. Ausbüttel & Co pursues an inclusive mission statement and has many years of experience in employing people with disabilities.

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Notes and references

Photo credits

  • Fachhochschule Dortmund | Michael Boecker

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