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To work at a European level to promote the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to exchange practices is in any way an exciting task. But even if we often feel like we share the same philosophy and the same will to act, the language issue is undoubtedly a difficult barrier to overcome.This glossary should function as a tool to improve our mutual understanding on fundamental and decisive terms in the field of disability policy.

The principle of accessibility is to ensure for persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.

Care vs support

Care refers to the provision of services related to health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something. Support refers to the provision of services which aim to enable someone to maintain or develop an active social life; either through work and employment, education or active participation in the community.

Community-based services

Enable individuals to live in the community and, in the case of children, to grow up in a family environment as opposed to an institution. It encompasses mainstream services, such as housing, healthcare, education, employment, culture and leisure. It also refers to specialised services, such as personal assistance for persons with disabilities, respite care and others.


Coproduction is an inclusive working practice between experts by experience (users), organisations being of support, public authorities and, if relevant, families and other stakeholders. The ultimate goal is the delivery of a service, policy or activity that is responsive to the user’s needs and preferences in line with the principles of the UN CRPD. Through coproduction all stakeholders are empowered and are empowering as they are continuously involved in the design, development and delivery of the service, policy or activity.


The transition from institutional to community-based care and specialised services, in order to respect the human rights and restore legal capacity to all persons with disabilities.


A long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder someone's full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Early (Childhood) Intervention

Early Intervention programmes generally offer a range of services to children diagnosed with disabilities before they start school (most commonly below the age of six) and to their families. They focus on developing a child's skills based on their individual needs, capabilities and resources in order to promote the best possible development.


The UN CRPD provides a framework to empower people with disabilities, so that they can enjoy their rights by participating fully in society and to remove the barriers that prevent this from happening. For example legal capacity on an equal basis with others or the right to live independently and be supported in the community.


The inclusion in society as fully participating members of social networks is also fundamentally rooted in labour market, education or economic inclusion. The key is participation and not segregation.

Inclusive education

Inclusion in the education sector means that every person has the same possibilities to enjoy a high-quality education without being segregated. In an inclusive school children with disabilities are included in mainstream classrooms, but it refers to education at all levels (e.g. parallel, informal and post-graduate learning).

Independent living

Persons with disabilities have the right to choose their place of residence and the right to live in the community. This includes not obliging them to live in a particular living arrangement and the obligation to provide people with disabilities with access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance.


Any place in which people who have been labelled as having a disability are isolated, segregated and/or compelled to live together. An institution is also any place in which people do not have, or are not allowed to exercise control over their lives and their day-to-day decisions. An institution is not defined merely by its size and the requirements of the organization itself tend to take precedence over the users' individual needs.


Integration is the inclusion of an individual into an existing larger unit, while the individual needs to adjust to fit into the existing system. Inclusion on the other hand postulates the social conditions to be designed so flexiblly that they allow participation on an equal bases for each individual.
In German the words Integration and Inclusion are often falsely used synonymously.

Job coach

A job coach is a person who is hired to provide specialized on-site training to assist the employee with a disability in learning and performing the job and adjusting to the work environment.

Legal capacity

An inherent right accorded to all people, including persons with disabilities. It is the ability to hold rights and duties and to exercise those rights and duties. It poses the key to accessing meaningful participation in society.

Mentoring programme

The mentoring programme is a practice in which an experienced disabled person - called mentor - provides support and guidance to another less experienced disabled person. The mentor may be older or younger, but have a certain area of expertise. This learning and development partnership is applicable to several areas such as employment, education or independent living.


The principle of participation is that service providers should encourage the active involvement of their users, and, when appropriate, of their families, trusted persons and informal carers in decisions concerning the planning, delivery and evaluation of services. It is the key issue of coproduction.

Peer mentoring

A peer mentor is a student or colleague who offers support to individuals when they enter a new environment, be it in the framework of education, employment, etc. Peer mentoring provides guidance, information, encouragement and help, depending on the needs of the individual, to ensure a successful transition in the new environment.

Person centred technology (PCT)

Specialist and mainstream technologies that can be used to enhance people’s independence and safety, making them less dependent on carers. Based on a user centred, user empowering and user involving approach, people with disabilities should benefit from new technological developments.

Policy impact group (PIG)

The Policy Impact Group - one of EASPD's Standing Committees - monitors and influences European policy and legislation on the broader legal and financial frameworks of social services of general interest, job creation and improving working conditions and structural funds.

Public procurement

The purchase by governments of goods, services and works. An efficient and effective public procurement system should ensure the delivery of quality services to the public.

Quota system

Quota systems for private and public enterprises or institutions can be found in the majority of EU-countries. Their basic target is to stimulate labour demand by committing employers to employ a certain proportion of employees with disabilities. Typically, the stipulated percentage ranges between 2% and 7% of the workforce.

Reasonable accommodation

Modifications and adjustments not imposing an undue burden, to provide the conditions, equipment, and environment that enable the exercise of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with others.

Respite care

Respite care is planned or emergency care provided to a child or adult with support needs in order to provide temporary relief to families who are caring for a child or an adult. This provides temporary relief to those who are caring for family members.

Right to Employment

The right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.

Segregating Institutions

Referring to an often large residential centre which isolates and excludes persons with disabilities - or any other group - from the rest of a community through the nature of the living arrangement.

Sheltered employment or sheltered occupational services

Provides a simulated work environment and vocational training to equip people with disabilities ideally with the skills for open employment.

Sheltered workshops

Generally are facilities where adults with disabilities can work under supervision as an alternative to working in the open labour market. Work in sheltered workshops has different meanings ranging from occupational therapy to actual source of income and there is no common definition.

Social Dialogue

Social Dialogue is the process of negotiations between employers and Trade Unions.

Find out more about EU Social Dialogue in our video: EU Social Dialogue in 60 seconds

Social protection

There is no common definition for social protection. However, social protection systems are usually designed to provide protection and empowerment against the risks and needs associated with: unemployment, parental responsibilities, sickness and healthcare, disability, invalidity, loss of a spouse or parent, old age, housing and social exclusion.

Social services

There is no common definition for social services, however we can state that they cover a diversified range of services which are intended to improve the living standards of the population, especially of those in vulnerable or risk situations. Social services are an important tool for reducing the exclusion of people with disabilities.

Supported decision making vs substituted decision making

A supported decision-making regime comprises various support options which give primacy to a person’s will and preferences and respect human rights norms.
Any decision made by a substitute decision-maker is based on what is believed to be in the objective “best interests” of the person concerned, as opposed to being based on the person’s own will.

Supported employment

There is no clear definition agreed upon. One way to describe supported employment is as a method of working with disabled people and other disadvantaged groups to access and maintain paid employment in the open labour market. It provides assistance such as coaches, assistive technology training or supervision.

Universal Design

The design of products, environments, programmes and services so that they are usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design.

User involvement

The systematic, ongoing and structural participation of service users in the development and provision of a service, based on the principle that the service must be built around people’s needs and preferences.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Education and training which aims to equip people with knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences required in particular occupations or more broadly in the labour market. VET programmes generally offer training to people with disabilities to prepare for employment.