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Thailand - Disability

Many people who have a disability in Thailand live in the rural areas of the country and it has traditionally been seen as the role of the family to care for those who have a mobility problem. In general, there is very little help offered by the Thai government for those with special needs and this work tends to fall on the charities that work in this field. Many employers in Thailand will not consider an applicant that has a disability although there are efforts to change their perception. The constitution says that nobody can be discriminated against because of a disability but this is not enforced and those who are turned down for a job because of a disability have little option but to accept it.

It is not very easy for a person with a disability to travel around the country. Facilities for the disabled are provided mainly in the holiday resorts and tourist attractions. Public transport is generally inaccessible to wheelchair users and in rural areas this is a limited service anyway. There are not many buildings which have wheelchair ramps and as the pavements are not very good quality they are uneven. Traffic crossings do not have audio signals for blind people and guide dogs are unheard of. In general, if you have a disability and you want to get around a busy area you will need to have somebody with you.

The issue with pavements is to be addressed by an organization called Disabled People International Asia-Pacific Region working in conjunction with the Bangkok authorities. They aim to make them more user-friendly and will also be tackling the issue of public transport. At the moment, disabled people are limited to taxis if wanting to travel anywhere but it should be noted that taxi drivers do not receive any special training to help disabled passengers although most will try.

The Sky Train system that is in use in Bangkok only has disabled access at a few stations, which makes it awkward to use the system as journeys have to be planned carefully. There are plans to install elevators at all the stations, making this type of transport more accessible. If you want to use the standard rail service then you will find that they also have no special facilities but if you arrange it in advance you can receive assistance from staff members. The Metro system in Bangkok does have much better access and those who need additional help can make a request. There is no legislation in place which makes it compulsory for companies to provide facilities for the disabled.

There is little financial help available to those who have disabilities, but Thai citizens are permitted to claim free medical rehabilitation. Most people will get help from organizations outside the government, but again, this is for Thai citizens only. In recent months, disabled people who are registered can claim 500 THB each month through the National Office for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. If you are a Thai citizen who is registered then you can apply directly to this department for the payment.

All children between the ages of 6 and 16 are supposed to attend school, but there are not many schools in Thailand which have facilities for disabled children. There are a number of special schools in the country which cater specifically for disabled children but these are not established in all areas. Home schooling is legal in Thailand and a large number of disabled children are taught at home.

The constitution of 1997 makes provision for the disabled to have equal rights, although there is little in the way of formal legislation which is enforced. There are, however, a number of organizations which support the disabled and lobby government on their behalf.

Those who need wheelchairs and other mobility aids can normally arrange these through their local hospital although there are private companies which supply these items too.

Useful Resources

National Office for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (NEP)
http://www.nep.go.th/home.php (website in Thai only)
Tel: + 66 2354 3388

Association of the Physically Handicapped in Thailand
Tel: + 66 2951 0569

Disabled Peoples’ International – Asia-Pacific Region (DPI/AP)
Tel: + 66 2271 2123
Email: saowalak@dpiap.org

Read more about this country

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