Timeline of disability rights outside the United States

This disability rights timeline lists events outside the United States relating to civil rights of people with disabilities, including court decisions, the passage of legislation, activists' actions, and the founding of various organizations. Although the disability rights movement itself began in the 1960s, advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities started much earlier and continues to the present.


  • 1947 - The School Education Law (Law No. 26) was enacted in Japan, and it provided education for disabled children such as general classes, special classes, non-residential classes, special schools and itinerant teaching, etc.[1]
  • 1947 - The Workmen's Accident Compensation Insurance Law (Law No. 50) was enacted in Japan, and it provided disability pension and disability lump-sum payments, as well as welfare services such as special allowance, medical services, health care, supply of prosthetic appliance, etc.[1]
  • 1947 - The Mail Law (Law No. 165) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that postage for Braille paper and recorded mail for visually impaired persons are free of charge, and parcels for disabled people can be mailed at half the cost. The postage for periodicals published by disabled person groups can be mailed at a small charge.[1]
  • 1949 - The Law for the Welfare of Physically Disabled Persons (Law No. 283) was enacted in Japan, and it provided the issuing of a "physically disabled persons' handbook", various counseling services, a grant of prosthetic appliances such as wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids and artificial limbs, technical aids for daily living such as bathtubs, toilet facility, beds and communication aids (e. g. talking machines and word processors, rehabilitation training, services necessary for participation in society such as sign language interpreter, translation Braille, guide helper and modification of motor vehicles, work opportunities, specialized facilities for nursing care, and living places.[1]


  • 1950 - The Inheritance Tax Law (Law No. 73) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that inheritance tax is reduced in the case of disabled persons' heir. Up to 70 years of age - ¥60,000 per year (¥120,000 for specified disabled persons.)[1]
  • 1950 - The Local Tax Law (Law No. 226) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that Local Resident Tax is reduced (disabled persons with annual incomes of ¥1,250,000 or less get a tax exemption). The Local Resident Tax exemption amounts are as follows: Specified disabled persons - ¥280,000 Other disabled persons - ¥260,000 There are cases of reduction or exemption from automobile taxes, light mobile taxes and automobile purchase taxes.[1]
  • 1950 - The Daily Life Security Law (Law No. 144) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that families who have difficulties in daily life because of their low income are given Public Assistant Benefit to ensure the minimum standard of living, and there is a system of supplemental allowance for disabled persons according to the condition of disability.[1]
  • 1950 - The Public Housing Law (Law No. 193) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that when living in public housing, disabled persons are given special consideration. There is a standard of larger living space for families with persons with disabilities. In addition, local public entities give priority in providing to disabled persons public housing and lowering of rent.[1]
  • 1954 - The Employees' Pension Law (Law No. 115) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that: According to the degree of the insured disability, Employee Disability Pension and Disability Allowance (a one time lump sum for minimal disabilities) are paid.[1]
  • 1957 - The Special Measures Act concerning Temporary Taxation (Law No. 26) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that regarding the Income Tax Law of 1965 (see below), those living severely disabled persons may get supplemental allowance. Supplemental allowance - ¥300,000 [1]
  • 1959 - The National Pension Law (Law No. 1412) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that: There is the Basic Disability Pension, which is granted after having joined the insurance program (Case A) or when a certain degree of disability has occurred prior to the age of 20 years (Case B). In the latter case; however, there is an income limitation. 1st grade - ¥981,900 (¥81,825 per month, 1997) 2nd grade - ¥785,490 (¥65,458 per month, 1997) These grades are different from the degrees indicated in the physically disabled person's handbook.[1]


  • 1960 - The Law for Employment Promotion, etc. of the Disabled Persons (Law No. 123) was enacted in Japan, and it provided:

(1) The Quota System: General employers including the government and municipal offices are obligated to employ disabled workers in excess of the quota. The legal quota was: Governmental bodies - 2. 0% (Non-clerical - 1. 9%) Private enterprises - 1. 6% (Specialized juridical person - 1. 9%) The quota was changed in 1998 as follows: Governmental bodies - 2. 1% (Non-clerical - 1. 9%) Private enterprises - 1. 8% (Specialized juridical person - 2. 1%) This ratio does not include mentally ill persons. Employers are obligated to report the number of disabled workers they employ to the head of the Public Employment Security Office annually. This office may announce to the public the names of enterprises who fail to meet the quota and request them to draw up plan for employment of disabled persons to meet the quota.
(2) The Levy and Grant System: This system works by collecting levy from those enterprises that fail to achieve the quota of disabled workers. The funds created by the levy system are used to encourage employers who employ disabled persons above the quota and to promote disabled workers' employment and improve working conditions. Collection of Levies: ¥50,000 a month per person (with more than 300 full-time employees.) Payment of Adjustment Allowance: ¥25,000 per month per person will be paid to the employers who employ disabled workers more than the legal quota (with more than 300 full-time employees). Payment of Rewards: ¥17,000 per month per person will be paid to the employers who employ disabled workers in excess of the fixed number (with less than 300 full-time employees). Payment of Grants: For establishment of work facilities, special employment management, vocational adjustment, ability development, etc. to promote such employment.
(3) Public Vocational Training Allowance for disabled persons and a loan system of funds for purchasing of technical aids and equipments.[1]

  • 1960 - The Law for the Welfare of Mentally Retarded Persons (Law No. 37) was enacted in Japan, and it provided specialized counseling provided by Social Welfare Offices and Rehabilitation Consultation Centers, training for independent life, in-house services such as home helper, day care and short stay programs, etc., technical aids for daily living such as electric toothbrush and special type mat, etc., living space such as welfare homes and group homes, etc., and specialized facilities to help daily life such as residential facilities for rehabilitation, nonresidential facilities and so on.[1]
  • 1960 - The Road Traffic Law (Law No. 105)was enacted in Japan, and it provided safe transportation for visually impaired persons. Thus, sighted persons are prohibited to walk with a white or yellow cane, and to walk with a guide dog.[1]
  • 1964 - The Special Child Rearing Allowance Law (Law No. 134) was enacted in Japan, and it provided - Special Allowance for Disabled Persons: Provided to those 20 years of age and over with degrees of disability requiring special care and attention in daily life due to serious disability either mental or physical. ¥26,230 per month with income limitation (1997). Special Child Rearing Allowance: Granted to parents or guardians of children, under 20 years of age with moderate/severe disability. ¥50,350 per month for those with severe disability (1997). ¥33,530 per month for those with moderate disability (1997). Welfare Allowance for Disabled Children: ¥14,270 per month is granted to children with severe disabilities.[1]
  • 1965 - The Income Tax Law (Law No. 33) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that taxpayers with disability or who have a disabled family member may get exemption from income tax. The exemptions are as follows: Specified disabled persons, that is (a) Grade 1 or 2 in a physically disabled person's handbook or (b) Severe level in a handbook for people with mental retardation - ¥350,000 Disabled persons other than above - ¥270,000 [1]
  • 1966 - The Employment Countermeasures Law (Law No. 132) was enacted in Japan, and it provided measures to improve vocational training for people with disabilities and assist them to find employment, vocational training facilities and improvement of training contents, training of guidance workers and the enhancement of their quality, the supply of an allowance for adjustment training, and the supply of a training allowance to employers.[1]
  • 1969 - The Human Resources Development Promotion Law (Law No. 64) was enacted in Japan, and it established Vocational Ability Development Centers for Disabled Persons.[1]


  • 1970 - The Disabled Persons' Fundamental Law (Law No. 84; major revision in 1993) was enacted in Japan. It includes:

"Article 2 (Definition): "Disabled persons" as used in this Law means persons whose daily life or life in society is substantially limited over the long term due to a physical disability, mental retardation or mental disability.
Article 3 (Fundamental Principles): The dignity of all disabled persons shall be respected. They shall have the right to be treated accordingly. All disabled persons shall, as members of society, be provided with opportunities to fully participate in such a manner.
Article 4 (Responsibilities of the State and Local Public Entities): The State and local public bodies shall be responsible for promoting the welfare of disabled persons and for preventing disabilities.
Article 5 (Responsibilities of the Nation): The nation shall, on the basis of the principle of social solidarity, endeavor to cooperate in promoting the welfare of disabled persons.
Article 6 (Efforts to Achieve Independence): Disabled persons shall endeavor to participate actively in social and economic activities by making effective use of the abilities they possess. The family members of disabled persons shall endeavor to promote independence of disabled persons.
Article 6-2 (Disabled Persons' Day): Disabled Persons' Day shall be established for the purpose of raising the public awareness to the welfare of disabled persons and stimulating disabled persons' desire to actively participate in social, economic, cultural and other areas of activity.
Article 7 (Fundamental Policies): The measures regarding the welfare of disabled persons shall be carried out according to their age and to the types and severity of disabilities."

There are other fundamental principles in this law regarding programs for persons with disability covering the State, Metropolitan and prefectural governments, and cities, towns and villages; as well as those regarding medicine, education, employment, pension, housing, public facilities, information, culture, sports, etc. The total number of the Articles of this law is 29.[1][2]


  • 1981 - The United Nations established this year as the International Year of Disabled Persons. At the conclusion of the year the UN called on member nations to establish in their own countries organizations for and about people with disabilities.
  • 1981 - Argentina enacted "Comprehensive Protection System for the Disabled" in order to give disabled people health care, education, and social security.[3]
  • 1982 - The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms declared physical or mental disability as a prohibited reason for discrimination; this was the first time that such a right was guaranteed in the Constitution of a country. Section 15 of the Charter makes it illegal for any governments in Canada to discriminate against persons with disabilities in their laws and programs.[4]
  • 1984 - The Telecommunication Service Law (Law No. 86) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that disabled persons may get NTT telephone directory service for a free of charge, and persons with speech disorder may get lower fee of usage fee of public telephone through calling by credit.[1]
  • 1985 - The Canadian Human Rights Act was enacted, and it banned discrimination against people due to their physical or mental disability. Furthermore, the Act requires federally regulated employers to prevent discrimination and to provide access and support to individuals with disabilities.[4][5]
  • 1988 - The Consumption Tax Law (Law No. 108) was enacted in Japan, and it provided that items for disabled persons (e. g. prosthesis, cane, artificial eyes, Braille writer and wheelchair) are exempted from consumption tax.[1]


  • 1990 - China enacted the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons, which (among other provisions) declared that China must "provide disabled persons with special assistance by adopting supplementary methods and supportive measures with a view to alleviating or eliminating the effects of their disabilities and external barriers and ensuring the realization of their rights...provide special assurance, treatment and pension to wounded or disabled servicemen and persons disabled while on duty or for protecting the interests of the State and people...guarantee the right of disabled persons to education...[and] guarantee disabled persons' right to work," as well as banning discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, engagement, status regularization, promotion, determining technical or professional titles, payment for labor, welfare, labor insurance or in other aspects.[6]
  • 1992 - The Disability Discrimination Act became law in Australia, and it banned discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, education, access to premises, accommodation, buying or selling land, activities of clubs, sport, administration of Commonwealth laws and programs, provision of goods, and services and facilities.[7]
  • 1993 - The Law for Promoting Businesses that Facilitate the Use of Communications and Broadcast Services by the Physically Disabled Persons (Law No. 54) was enacted in Japan, and it promoted services to make media like telecommunications and broadcast accessible to people with disabilities. For instance, it provided subsidies for the production of superimposed television programs or those with narrations explaining the action.[1]
  • 1993 - New Zealand passes the Human Rights Act 1993, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities, except in cases of insurance policies. HIV status is also included within the legislation. Discrimination is banned within accommodation, employment and goods and service provision.
  • 1994 - The Law for Buildings Accessible to and Usable by the Elderly and Physically Disabled Persons (Law No. 44) was enacted in Japan. It aims to build public buildings which meet the needs of people with disabilities. It is also called the "Heartful Building Law." [1]
  • 1995 - The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA 1995) became law in the United Kingdom. [8] This made it unlawful in the United Kingdom to discriminate against people with disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education, and transport. [8] The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides support for this Act. Equivalent legislation exists in Northern Ireland, which is enforced by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.
  • 1997 - In Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General) [1997] 2 S.C.R. 624, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sign language interpreters must be provided in the delivery of medical services where doing so is necessary to ensure effective communication.[9]
  • 1999 - The Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 abolished the National Disability Council and replaced it with a Disability Rights Commission. Like the Council, the Commission covered England, Scotland and Wales. However unlike the Council it also had power to support individuals seeking to enforce their rights (Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 s.7) and powers of investigation (Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 s.3).[10]



  • 2010 - The Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 came into operation on 25 January 2010. These Regulations lift the exemption which applied to transport providers from Part 3 of the DDA. This means that from 25 January 2010 transport providers must not discriminate against disabled people when providing goods, facilities, and services.[16]
  • 2010- The Equality Act 2010 was passed in the United Kingdom. The primary purpose of the Act is to consolidate the complicated and numerous array of Acts and Regulations which formed the basis of anti-discrimination law in Great Britain.[17]
  • 2012 - The Supreme Court of India declared that a deaf and mute person need not be prevented from being presented as a witness in court merely on account of their physical disability. The court explained that a deaf and mute person can testify in writing or through gestures.[18][19]
  • 2012 - The government of England announced a £2.6 million fund from 2012 until March 2014 to help people with disabilities become MPs, councillors, and police and crime commissioners.[20]
  • 2012 - Canada's Department of Veterans Affairs ended its policy of deducting the amount of disabled veterans' pensions from benefits for lost earnings and Canadian Forces income support, which were introduced in 2006 under the New Veterans Charter.[21]
  • 2013 - Turkey officially removed words considered insulting to people with disabilities (such as “gimp” and “faulty”) from over 95 of its laws.[22]
  • 2013 - Guide dogs began to be allowed at the Western Wall, due to a new ruling by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.[23]
  • 2014 - The German national memorial to the people with disabilities systematically murdered by the Nazis was dedicated in 2014 in Berlin. [24][25] It is located in Berlin in a site next to the Tiergarten park, which is the former location of a villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 where more than 60 Nazi bureaucrats and doctors worked in secret under the "T4" program to organize the mass murder of sanatorium and psychiatric hospital patients deemed unworthy to live. [26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "The 30 Selected Japanese Laws Related to Persons with Disabilities". Dinf.ne.jp. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  2. ^ "Social Development in Asia-Pacific | Protection, Empowerment, Equality". Unescap.org. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  3. ^ Videla, Jorge. "Sistema de protección integral de los discapacitados". infoleg.gov.ar/:accessdate=7 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Canadian Heritage - Human Rights and Disabilities". Pch.gc.ca. 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  5. ^ "Canadian Human Rights Act". Dredf.org. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  6. ^ "Protection Of Disabled Persons Law". Asianlii.org. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  7. ^ "A guide to Australia's anti-discrimination laws". Hreoc.gov.au. 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  8. ^ a b Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  9. ^ Adam Badari. """Centre for Constitutional Studies, article title "Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General) (1997) – Equality Rights and Services for the Deaf. Law.ualberta.ca. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  10. ^ "Latest British Employment Law News". emplaw.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  11. ^ "Canadian Legal Information Institute, article title R. v. Latimer, 2001 SCC 1, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 3". Canlii.org. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  12. ^ "Dalhousie University, Health Law Institute, article title Case Summaries: Advance Directives, Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders and Withholding and Withdrawal of Potentially Life-sustaining Treatment Cases". as01.ucis.dal.ca. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  13. ^ Alison M. Konrad, Kaye Leslie, Don Peuramaki (October 2007). "Full accessibility by 2025: will your business be ready?". Ivey Business Journal. Retrieved 2012-03-14. It won’t be long before companies in the province of Ontario, like companies in some other jurisdictions around the world, will be obliged by law to accommodate people with disabilities. These authors, who have extensive experience in researching and implementing workplace disability programs and initiatives, provide a concise and comprehensive “how to” for organizations on everything from defining “disability” to meeting their ultimate obligations. 
  14. ^ "Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 | Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister". Ofmdfmni.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  15. ^ "Harvard Law School Project on Disability". Hpod.org. 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  16. ^ "Disability | Equality | Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister". Ofmdfmni.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  17. ^ "Equality Act 2010". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  18. ^ Firstpost. "Deaf-mute can be credible witness: Apex court". Firstpost. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  19. ^ "Deaf-mute can be credible witness: SC - The Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  20. ^ "New fund announced to help disabled people into politics - The Information Daily.com". Egovmonitor.com. 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  21. ^ "Ottawa ends clawback on disabled veterans' pensions | CTV News". Ctvnews.ca. 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  22. ^ "Discriminative wording about disabled removed from Turkish laws". http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com. May 4, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Guide dogs allowed at the Western Wall". Times of Israel. December 10, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  24. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/germany-opens-memorial-nazis-disabled-victims-25212339
  25. ^ http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184679
  26. ^ http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184679
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