NOTE: this translation has not been provided by a translator who specializes in legal translation. Please refer to the original law in Spanish for all questions pertaining to specific legal issues and interpretation.
THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES LAW FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Translated into English by: Oscar G. Rivera M.
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF COSTA RICA, DECREES
TITLE I, CHAPTER I: GENERAL DISPOSITIONS
Article 1. Public interest. The total development of the population with disabilities, on equal conditions of quality, opportunity, rights, and oblgations as the rest society, is hereby declared public interest.
Article 2. The following definitions are established:
Equal opportunities: The principle recognizing the importance of the different needs that individuals have and of how these needs must serve as the basis for social planning, to ensure that resources are being used in ways that guarantee persons equal opportunities of access an participation in identical circumstances.
Equalizing opportunities: The process of adjusting environmental conditions, services, activities, information, documentation, as well as attitudes, to the needs of the people, particularly to those of persons with disabilities.
Disability: Any physical, mental of sensory impairment which substantially limits one or more of an individuals major activities.
Organization of Persons with Disabilities. These are the organization run by persons with disabilities or family members, with the purpose of promoting and defending the principle of equal opportunities.
Technical aids: Any of the elements required by persons with disabilities to improve functionality and ensure personal independece.
Support service (accommodations): Technical aids, equipment, auxiliary resources, personal assistance, and special education required by persons with disabilities to improve personal independence and to ensure their equal opportunities for access to development.
Special education needs: Any substantial situation confronted by a persons which is derived from his or her learning capacity or difficulties.
Early stimulation: The attention provided to children ages from zero to seven years in order to prompt and develop, to maximum degree, their physical, intellectual, sensory, and emotional capacities, by means of systematic and sequential programs which include all areas of human development, without forcing the logical maturity process.
CHAPTER II: FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
Article 3. Objectives. The objectives of this law are:
a) To serve as an instrument to enable persons with disabilities to achieve their maximum development, full participation in society, including the exercise of all the rights and obligations of our legal system.
b) Ensure equal opportunities for the Costa Rican population in areas that include: health, education, work, family life, recreation, sports, culture and other dimensions.
c) To eliminate all types of discrimination against persons with disabilities.
d) To establish the legal and material foundations that will allow the Costa Rican society to adopt the necessary measures for equalizing opportunities and eliminating discrimination of persons with disabilities.
This Article 4. Obligations of the State. The State has the following obligations regarding this law:
a) The State institutions must include, in the plans, policies, programs, and services, the principles of equal opportunities and accessibility to all services provided pursuant this law. These institutions must also develop projects and specific actions to consider the less relative development of the regions and communities of the country.
b) The State must ensure that the environment, goods, services, and accommodations for public use are accessible and enjoyable for all persons.
c) The State must eliminate all actions and dispositions that directly or indirectly foster discrimination or impede persons with disabilities from having due access to programs and services.
d) The State must provide social sectors and organizations of persons with disabilities due support for achieving equal opportunities.
e) The State the right of organizations of persons with disabilities to participate in the activities regarding the establishment of plans, policies, and services affecting them.
f) The State must make this law publicly known and foster prompt its compliance.
g) The State must, through its corresponding institutions, the prevision of the support services that persons with disabilities need to remain with their families.
h) The State must ensure accessible means to persons with disabilities whom had been the victims of physical, emotional, or sexual aggression or otherwise mistreated, or abandonmed, so they may exercise their rights to personal independence and to live with dignity.
Article 5. Technical aids and support services. Public institutions and private public service organizations must provide the support services and technical aids that are needed by persons with disabilities to fully exercise their rights and obligations.
Article 6. Whenever and for any purpose thereto the topic of disability is addressed or used, it must be covered in such manner as to reinforce dignity and equality among human beings. No mass media (newspaper, radio, television or the like) should issue stigmatizing or defranchaized messages in relation to disability. The organizations of persons with disabilities must be consulted in this respect.
Article 7. Public institutions and public service organizations that provide services to persons with disabilities and to their families must provide reliable, comprehensible, and accessible information regarding disability and the services they offer.
Article 8. Programs and services. Programs and services partially or totally founded by the State, and those receiving gogernmental or municipal benefits and also private programs, must comply with the dispositions of this law.
Article 9. Local governments. Local governments must support public and private institutions in the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs, projects, and services to promote equal opportunities and development for persons with disabilities.
Article 10. Community. Persons with disabilities must have equal opportunities to participate in the definition and implementation of activities in the communities.
Article 11. Family. All family members must help persons with disabilities in developing a dignifying living and full exercise of their rights and obligations.
Persons with disabilities which at present are not able to enjoy the right to live with their families, must have access to other living options, that ensure their dignity and in non-segregated environments.
The Costa Rican General Attorny Office must request guardianship for an abandomed person with disabilities when is it so requested, particularly by a State agency. In this case, the Court must previously ensure that the person is actually in a state of abandonment.
Article 12. Organizations of Persons with Disabilities. Legaly established organizations of persons with disabilities must:
a) Exercise their right to self-determination and to participate in the decision making process.
b) To have a permanent representation, 25% at the government institution in charge of disability issues of the country.
c) To have available resources for collecting, reproducing, translating and broadcasting information regarding disability as needed to inform and provide counseling to institutions, companies and the general public regarding elimination of architectural barriers, technical aids, and support services. For this purposes, a committee composed by members of said organizations.
The resources need must be allocated by the government institution in charge of the disability issues or by any other sources provided by public and private institutions.
Article 13. Obligation to consult legally established organizations of persons with disabilities. Legally constituted organizations of persons with disabilities must be consulted by the institutions in charge of planning, implementing, and evaluating services and actions in the field of disability.
TITLE II, CHAPTER I: ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Article 14. Access: The State must ensure persons with disabilities due access to education, not withstanding their disability, from early stimulation to high education stages. This regulation includes both, public and private education within the National Education System.
Article 15. Educational programs. The Ministry of Public Education must create programs to address the special education needs, ensure its proper performance at all levels of attention.
Article 16. Participation of persons with disabilities: Persons with disabilities must participate within the educational services that best meet his or her condition and development, this regulation includes the right to have access to the required support services. Said persons may not be excluded from any activity.
Article 17. Adaptations and support services: Educational centers must provide the necessary adaptations and will provide the support services as required to ensure the right to education for persons with disabilities. These accommodations and support services include specialized human resources, educational curriculum adaptations, evaluations, methodology, educational resources and physical facilities. These provisions will be defined by the staff of the educational institution, and shall have the needed technical assistance.
Article 18. Types of education within the Educational System. Persons with special educations needs may receive their education within the Regular Education System, with the required support services. Students whose needs are not met by regular classroom settings, will have access to appropriate services ensuring their development and well-being, including those provided at the special education facilities.
The education of persons with disabilities must comply with the same standards of quality, the same schedule, and preferably imparted at the nearest educational facility to the students home, and at all times they must respond to the norms and aspirations guiding the national education system.
Article 19. Educational materials. The educational programs and materials that include text and images on disability topics, must present them in ways that reinforce the dignity and equality of all human beings.
Article 20. Rights of parents. This law ensures that parents or legal custodians of students with disabilities, have the right to participate in the selection, allocation, organization, and evaluation of the educational services.
Article 21. Hospitalization and convalescence period. The Ministry of Public Education must ensure that hospitalized or convalescent students who are not able to attend school, have the necessary options to continue with their studies during said period. The studies performed during this hospitalization or convalescence period, will have official recognition.
Article 22. Obligations of the Ministry of Public Education. In order to comply with the dispositions of this chapter, the Ministry of Public Education will provide the necessary support, assistance, resources, and training.
CHAPTER II: ACCESS TO WORK
Article 23. Right to work. The State will ensure that persons with disabilities of rural and urban areas the right to an adequate job, considering their personal conditions and needs.
Article 24. Discriminatory acts. The use of personnel selection mechanisms which do not adapt to the conditions of the applicant, to demand additional requirements with respect to those established for other applicants, and not hiring because of disability an otherwise idonous worker, constitute discriminatory practices.
The denial of access to means of production because of disability, will also constitute a discriminatory practice.
Article 25. Priority training. This law established job training as a priority to be provided to persons with disabilities, older than eighteen years of age, who as consequence of their disability have not had access to education and lack job training.
Article 26. Technical assistance to employers. The State must provide technical assistance to employers in order for them to be able to adapt job requirements and the work environment to the needs of persons with disabilities. Said modifications may include changes on the physical space and providing technical aids or support services.
Article 27. Obligations of the employers. The employer must provide, without any form of discrimination, training opportunities so all the workers may improve their capacities.
Article 28. Social security. All persons with disabilities performing any profitable activity, have the right to social security coverage, including work hazards, medical attention, maternity, disability, old age, death benefits.
Article 29. Obligations of the State. Whenever a government-insured person presents a disability due to illness or injury, the Costa Rican Social Security must provide him or her the corresponding medical and rehabilitation treatment, including the technical aids or support services as needed. Likewise, and as needed, the State must provide said persons a financial aid during hospitalization, not exceeding one year. This financial aid may not be lower than the maximum pension plan awarded by the Costa Rican Social Security.
The State must ensure labor training of persons who, due to the presence of illness or injury, develop a disability which impedes them from continue working. Said training should include provisions for the person to remain on his or her job with accommodations responding to the new conditions.
The State must undertake pertinent measures so persons with disabilities may continue in their work or change to other positions in accordance with their capacities.
Article 30. Obligations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security must maintain a service of qualified professionals to provide job readaptation, job placement, adaptation to new positions for persons with disabilities. To improve the performance of its activities, this service must be in contact with the organizations of persons with disabilities.
CHAPTER III ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES
Article 31. Access. Health services must be provided with equal conditions to all persons. With respect to health services, the following will be deem discriminatory practices: to deny said health services, to provide services with less quality or to offer them at a different heath center than the usual for a person because of his or her disabilities.
Article 32. Coordination and supervision procedures. In order to establish policies that best respond to the needs of the population, the Costa Rican Social Security must establish the coordination and supervision procedures for public health centers offering specialized rehabilitation services.
Article 33. Rehabilitation services. The Costa Rican Social Security and the National Insurance Institute must provide rehabilitation services in every region of the country. Said services include home services and ambulatory services. All services must be equal in quality, with the adequate human and technical resources, and must provide the necessary support services to ensure an optimal attention.
Article 34. Services made available. The public health institutions with in charge of providing rehabilitation services, must ensure that such services are readily available, at all levels of attention, including the support services and technical aids as required by applicants.
Article 35. Adapted means of transportation. Public institutions providing rehabilitation services must offered their own accessible means of transportation according to the needs of persons with disabilities.
Article 36. Responsibility of the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health is responsible of certifying de quality and the strict compliance regarding the specifications of the technical aids delivered to State institutions or that distributed in the market.
Article 37. Life insurance and insurance polices may not be denied. Insurance entities may not deny persons with disabilities, alleging the presence of disability, the right to acquire their life insurance or medical treatment policy.
Article 38. Hospitalization. A person with disabilities being hospitalized has the right to use his or her personal technical aids or support services.
Article 39. Specific norms. All health centers and rehabilitation services must provide applicants and their families, specific guidelines to prompt and facilitate the rehabilitation process.
Article 40. Security, accommodations and privacy measures. With the purpose of not harming personal dignity and in order to comply with the objectives establish by this law, rehabilitation services must ensure that their facilities provide the security, accommodating and privacy measures required by its users.
CHAPTER IV: ACCESS TO PHYSICAL SPACE
Article 41. Mandatory technical specifications. New constructions or remodeling of existing buildings, parks, sidewalks, gardens, plazas, lanes, restrooms, and other public spaces, must be performed in compliance with the mandatory technical specifications issued by the corresponding public or private entities.
All private buildings destined for public use must comply with the same indications of the paragraph hereinabove.
The same mentioned obligations must be meet for all housing projects which are partially or totally funded with public funds. In projects of this type, houses assigned to persons with disabilities or to families where one of their members has a disability, must be built on an accessible location.
Article 42. Technical requirements for pedestrian pathways. All pedestrian pathways must comply with the necessary technical requirements including: ramps, handrails, visual, sound and tactile signals. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to use said pathways without risks.
Article 43. Parking spaces. Public entities and private entities providing services to the public that have parking spaces, must offer five percent (5%) of the total parking space exclusively for vehicles driven by persons with disabilities or that carry persons with disabilities. Under no circumstances said entities may separate less tha two parking spaces for this purposes. Vehicles must carry the corresponding identification and authorization to transport and to park with persons with disabilities issue by the Costa Rican Ministry of Public works and Transportation.
Parking spaces destined for vehicles driven or transporting persons with disabilities must be located near the locations where the public services are being provided. The characteristics for said parking spaces and services thereof, shall be established by the regulations to this law.
Article 44. Elevators. Elevators must be provided with access, operation, visual, sound and tactile signals, including emergency devices, so persons with disabilities may used them.
CHAPTER V: ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION
Article 45. Technical measures. To ensure mobility and security as needed by persons with disabilities, technical measures must be adopted within the transportation system, including the signaling devices and adequate distribution of space.
Means (vehicles and facilities) for collective transportation must be totally accessible and designed to meet the needs of all persons.
Article 46. Permits and concessions. In order to obtain permits or concessions to provide public transportation services, the beneficiaries of this type of contracts, shall be required to comply with the dispositions stated by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation. Said applicants must prove their compliance with the dispositions established by this law and pertinent regulations.
Article 47. With respect to taxi type transportation, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation must require, on each public transportation bid for permits or concessions, that at least a ten percent (10%) of the total vehicles for which said permits or concessions is requested should be adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities.
Article 48. Terminals and stations. The terminals and stations for massive transportation must be built and equipped with the adaptations required for their use by persons with disabilities, including easy access
to the entrances and to comfortably travel on the different public transportation vehicles.
Article 49. Parking accommodations. Administrative police authorities will assist in parking vehicles transporting persons with disabilities, and provide for their access to the diverse means of public transportation.
CHAPTER VI: ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION
Article 50. Provisions for accessible information. Public and private institutions must ensure that all information for public use is accessible for all persons, in accordance with the persons´ particular needes.
Article 51. Information programs. In order to ensure the right of persons with hearing impairments to be, Public information programs broadcasted by public or private television, must provide support services, including sign language or close captioning.
Article 52. Telephones. The entity in charge of the national telecommunications systems must ensure that all persons have accesse to telephone devises. Public telephones must be installed and located in such a way as to ensure their accessibility for all persons.
Article 53 Libraries. Public libraries and private libraries servicing the public, must provide support services, including personal assistance, equipment and furniture to ensure access to its users.
CHAPTER VII: ACCESS TO CULTURE, SPORTS AND RECREATION
Article 54. Access. All physical spaces where cultural, sports, or recreation activities are performed, must be accessible for everyone. Public and private institutions conducting or sponsoring these types of activities, must provided the necessary accommodations and technical means to ensure their access and use by all persons.
Article 55. Discriminatory acts. If, because of his or her disability, a persons is denied from participating in any cultural, sports, and recreation activity, performed or sponsored by a public or private institution, such act shall constitute an act of discrimination.
TITLE III, SINGLE CHAPTER: ACTIONS
Article 56. Budget measures. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Ministry of Education, the Social Security System, the Nations Insurance Institute, the National Learning Institute, the Social Assistance Institute, and the San José Social Protection Board, the centers for higher-education and the rest of the state institutions, must undertake the necessary budget measures to acquire technical aids and to provide for the support services, medical treatment, equipment and prothesis, as require in order to comply with this law.
Article 57. State assistance for centers of higher education. The state must foster the centers of higher education and shall support them at imparting specific training career in all disciplines and at all levels, so as to ensure equal opportunities of persons with disabilities.
Article 58. Disability topics. In order to ensure development opportunities for all persons, the centers of higher education must include general and specific content materials on disability which are relevant to the different careers, at all course levels.
Article 59. Training programs. Public institutions and public service private organizations, must include educational, awareness and disability components, within their personnel training programs.
Article 60. Institutional measures to prevent discrimination. By means of an internal policy avoiding discrimination because of disability, educators, employers and institutional authorities, must sustain conditions of personal respect at work and study environments. Said internal policy must be designed to correct and prevent future acts of discrimination.
By this law, public institutions and public service private organizations, must develop and disseminate said policy. This internal policy to prevent discrimination must be notified in written form to the directors, officers in charge, supervisors, advisers, representatives, educators, students and users of said institutions.
Article 61. For the purposes of this law, said institutions must adopt within their internal regulations, personnel and administration covenants, direct arrangements, notifications and other administrative acts, the pertinent measures and sanctions.
TITLE IV, SINGLE CHAPTER: PROCEDURES AND SANCTIONS
Article 62. Fees. Any physical or judicial person engaged in any discriminatory act, including making distinctions, excluding or preferential treatment against anyone for disability reasons, thus limiting the persons right to equal opportunities with respect to accessibility, work, education, health, transportation and other environments, shall be fined with a fine equaling a half of the minimum wage that is established by the Law No. 7337 of May 5, 1993.
Article 63. Sanctions for irregularities occurred during hiring or selecting personnel. At any of the State´s institutions or corporation, any appointment, destitution, suspension o transfer, promotion, depromotion or recognition performed against the disposition of this law.
All personnel hiring or selection procedures shall be deem void to the extent that they contradict this law.
Public officials acting against the dispositions of this law shall be personally held responsible for their actions and they shall respond with their personal patrimony for any damages caused.
Article 64. Applicable legislation. In order to determine the truth concerning the facts and to apply what is established in the above article, the ordinary procedure pursuqant to the General Public Administration amd the relevant article of the Administrative Jurisdicction Law.
Article 65. Traffic fees. A fee of five thousand colones, pursuant to the article 131 of the Costa Rican Public Transportation Law, Law No. 7331, the vehicle found parked on designated parking spaces for duly identified vehicles transporting persons with disabilities.
Article 66. Fees for conccessionaries of public transportation. Public transportation concessionaries of shall be sanctioned with of no less than ten thousand colones and not exceeding thirty thousand colones, public transportation concessionaries that do not comply the regulations of this law concerning the right that every persons has to use public transportation.
Said concessionaries of public transportation must correct the problem with in a period of three months, otherwise, the corresponding concession or circulation permit for the corresponding vehicle shall be suspended until the necessary adaptations are introduced.
Article 67. Sanctions for not complying with accessibility regulations. Construction authorities (the constructors) who do not comply with accessibility regulations contained in this law may be obliged, upon the victims request, to perform, at its own expense the necessary adaptations to ensure said accessibility right.
TITLE V, CHAPTER I, REFORMS, SECTION I: (PENDING TRANSLATION)
TRANSITORY I. The Ministry of Education shall initiate, immediately and with the existing resources, measures to comply with the obligations established by the present law. Said compliance measures must be completed within a period not exceeding a seven year period.
TRANSITORY II. Building spaces on public or private property destined for gatherings or services to the public, must be made accessible within a period not exceeding a period of ten years. Accomodations to ensure accessibility must be established on the rent contract and are ti be paid by the property owners or by the tenant in the case of public offices or commercial establishments.
Transitory III. Within a maximum period of two years, the Costa Rican Public Service Personnel General Bureau shall introduce adaptations to personnel hiring and selection procedures and mechanisms in order to comply with the dispositions of this law.
TRANSITORY IV. The Costa Rican Social Security and the National Insurance Institute shall initiate, immediately and with the existing resources, measures to comply with the obligations established by the present law. Said compliance measures must be completed within a period not exceeding a seven year period.
TRANSITORY V. In order to comply with the disposition of article 41 of this law, public institutions and privite service entities shall initiate, immediately and with the existing resources, measures to comply with the obligations established by the present law. Said compliance measures must be completed within a period not exceeding a seven year period.
TRANSITORY VI. The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation shall initiate, immediately and with the existing resources, measures to comply with the obligations established by the present law. Said compliance measures must be completed within a period not exceeding a seven year period.
TRANSITORY VII. The national telephone service shall have a period of seven years in order to make the necessary adaptations pursuant to article 52 of this law.
The Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, May 2, 1996