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New law on disability opens ‘new era’ for country — official

Legislation includes broader definition of disability, provisions that better protect rights of PWD

By Laila Azzeh - Jun 09,2017 - Last updated at Jun 09,2017

AMMAN – The new law on the rights of people with disabilities (PWD), which was endorsed by the Lower House last month, is set to bring a “new era” for this segment of the society, a concerned official said. 

With its “clear” anti-discrimination provision and broadened definition of disability, the law is deemed to be the “most advanced” in the region, and is expected to realise a “quantum leap” in the way the country handles the issues facing people with disabilities, who account for around 13 per cent of the population. 

“The new legislation perceives those with disabilities in a new way by adopting a definition of disability that takes into account the physical barriers that hinder their ability to lead a normal life,” said Muhannad Azzeh, secretary general of the Higher Council for People with Disabilities (HCD). 

The previous law only considered the “pure medical angle of disability, without giving much notice to the physical and behavioural barriers that stand in the way of those with disabilities”, he told The Jordan Times on Monday.

Moreover, the new law introduces the concept of “informed consent”, which gives citizens with disabilities the right to decide for themselves after receiving enough information about the consequences of each of their decisions. 

“This concept is a proof of a country’s enlightenment. It means that the country is obligated to explore all means and tools to acquaint people with disabilities of the consequences of any of their decisions and allow them to practice their legal capacity as citizens,” Azzeh highlighted. 

Violence, on the other hand, is handled by the law with a “new angle” that not only holds those who abuse the disabled accountable, but also those who ban them from enjoying their rights, according to the HCD secretary general.

Under the new legislation, people with disabilities will be given “disability IDs” that will serve as a “gatekeeper” to access all services granted to them instead of having to apply each time for exemptions and privileges. 

Furthermore, those who suffer from temporary disability will also benefit from a number of services, Azzeh said.  

The law stipulates that the government should incorporate the needs and rights of people with disabilities in their programmes and plans, while intensifying the oversight system, especially in disability care centres.

Azzeh highlighted that the “political will” and Jordan’s constitutional and international obligations have all contributed to “drawing up such a modern and rights-based law”.  

Jordan was one of the first countries to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2008, but a “gap has been evident between principles and practices when it comes to the rights of citizens with disabilities”, the HCD secretary general said. 

In a statement to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Social Development Ministry Spokesperson Fawaz Ratrout praised the new law for its “potential to address the different needs of people with disabilities and help integrate the disabled into the society”. 


There are five government-run disability accommodation centres in Jordan that deal with 700 people with multiple disabilities, according to Ratrout. 

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