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Switzerland - Disability

Switzerland on the whole has an awareness of the difficulties facing disabled people and has legislation and facilities in place to assist. This ensures standards of access and mobility comparable to those in the EU. A national Disability Discrimination Act (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetzes) was put into effect on 1 January 2004. Efforts are being made by the Federal Office for Equality of People with Disabilities to raise further awareness. Financial assistance is given to disability organisations to enable further integration of disabled people into all aspects of life. Work is also underway to make all pre-existing public buildings accessible to disabled people. New private buildings must also be constructed to be accessible, unless exempt under certain size conditions.

Residents with an appropriate medical certificate may obtain a disability card that is recognised nationally.

There are seats for the use of disabled persons on public transport. For longer journeys it is advisable to pre-book to reserve the seat. There are also disabled parking spaces, outlined in yellow and displaying a wheelchair symbol. These can be used by holders of a parking authorisation card and apply throughout Switzerland. You may be allowed into traffic restricted (ZTL) and pedestrian zones and can park for up to 2 hours in 20 minute zones. You may additionally be permitted to park for up to 6 hours in time-restricted zones, depending on local regulations. As this can vary, do first check any notices. Some private car parks may waive the parking fee but this should be confirmed otherwise you risk a fine. You cannot park in a private space marked with the holder's details, but can otherwise park in no-parking zones for up to 2 hours if you are not obstructing traffic or pedestrians or causing any kind of hazard.

Visiting holders of a blue badge can display the badge if accompanied by an explanation in the appropriate language. See http://www.myhandicap.com/disabled-parking-eu.html for the translated texts which you may copy and display clearly next to the badge.

The network of cycle paths can make wheelchair mobility easier. In circumstances where public transport cannot be accessed directly by a wheelchair user, either by ground-level access, ramps or lifts, transport staff will assist. Disabled toilets/restrooms can be found in larger centres.

Visually impaired holders of the disability card will be able to use any public transport with a guide dog without requiring the additional dog pass. Visually impaired persons alternatively may have a sighted companion who will be covered by the same ticket. Although there are not large numbers of guide dogs in Switzerland, the legislation recognises their right of access into all buildings. It may be possible to arrange to bring a guide dog into Switzerland following the usual procedures for import of animals.

Useful Resources

Federal Office for Equality of People with Disabilities
Eidgenössisches Büro für die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen EBGB, Inselgasse 1, CH 3003 Bern
Tel: 031 322 82 36
Email: ebgb@gs-edi.admin.ch

Swiss Paraplegics Association
Kantonsstrasse 40, CH 6207 Nottwil
Tel: +41 (0)41 939 54 00
Email: spv@spv.ch

Égalité Handicap
Advice and support if you have been discrimated against for having a disability
Égalité Handicap, Marktgasse 31, CH 3011 Bern

Providing support and lobbying for disabled people
Procap Zentralsekretariat, Froburgstrasse 4, Postfach, CH 4601 Olten
Tel: 062 206 88 88
Email: zentralsekretariat@procap.ch

Swiss National Association of and for the Blind SNAB, Schützengasse 4, CH 9001 St. Gallen
Tel: +41 (0)71 223 36 36
Email: sekretariat@szb.ch

Swiss Association of the Deaf
Schweizerische Gehörlosenbund/Fédération Suisse des Sourds SGB-FSS, Avenue de Provence 16, CH 1007 Lausanne
Tel: +41 (0)21 625 65 55
Email: info-f@sgb-fss.ch

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