SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, OCTOBER 25, 2018 — The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a first “5-year plan (2018-2022) to help the disabled stand on their own” in an attempt to realize a universal welfare for the disabled. The goal of the plan is to help the disabled fully stand on their own by expanding and strengthening the existing policy that has been implemented in relation with their everyday life, mobility, housing, economic activities, culture and leisure.
First, public jobs will be newly created for people with severe or developmental disabilities. Starting from next year, a total of 800 jobs will be created. Typical positions will include assistants to public librarians who facilitate returning books, cleaning persons taking care of “Ttareungyi.” In addition, a field training program will be established to provide a pool of 500 skilled workers by 2022 and to customize the matching of jobs.
Support for stable housing will also be expanded and strengthened. As alternatives to residence facilities, models that take into consideration the individual characteristics and needs of the disabled will be developed to provide houses for cohabitation, medical services, etc., so that they can live independently within the community. Their supply will be significantly increased from the current 20 houses to 260 houses. The supply of rental housing for people with low incomes and severe disabilities will be also be 5 times increased (from 1,300 in 2018 to 6,500 by 2022).
Measures against the blind spots will also be strengthened, in relation to child care, health, and education. A care service will be provided for the disabled aged over 65. “Lifelong education centers” will be established for adults with developmental disabilities who have been not able to receive lifelong education, in all 25 districts by 2022. The Seoul Medical Center and Boramae Medical Center are designated as health checkup centers for the severely disabled, and will be supporting a customized management of their health.
There will also be increased efforts to eliminate any discrimination in everyday life in relation with mobility, communication, and information access. Currently, the “voucher taxi for the disabled” is available only for a limited number of people, including those with visual impairments, but starting from next year it will be expanded to all types of disabilities in an attempt to improve mobility. People with disabilities who also have difficulty communicating will be subject to an alternative communication service which provides special phones, text translation, braille data, as a “promotion center of communication rights” will be launched next year. A comprehensive sports facility and a space for culture and art will also be built, and they will be applied a universal design to allow their use to both people with disabilities and without disabilities.
“The 5-year comprehensive plan to help the disabled stand on their own” will be promoted as 10 political tasks in 5 major fields (26 project units). It is a mid-to long-term plan that has fully integrated the opinions of the disabled through the “survey on the status of independent living for the severely disabled (February to December 2017),” and that has been established after the work of a public-private joint TF composed of persons with disabilities as well as external experts.
The 5 major fields are ① enhanced assistance in everyday life, ② better accessibility and housing support, ③ better economic independence support, ④ support in culture, sports, and leisure, and ⑤ increased support services for self-reliance within the local community.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government says that “even though Seoul has continued supporting the independent living of people with disabilities, blind spots remain, and there are still much needs from the disabled concerning their daily lives and social activities,” claiming that Seoul City will “especially focus on responding to the need for a total self-reliance which will allow them freedom in every aspect – everyday life, housing, economy and culture, and ultimately ensure a successful implementation of the comprehensive plan.”