“Participation must become a matter of course”

Hubert Huppe, the long-time spokesman on disability policy for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, is the new Federal Government Commissioner for the Disabled. Through his political commitment, Mr. Huppe, himself the father of a disabled son, has earned a reputation as a reliable advocate for people with disabilities. In an interview with the Catholic News Agency (KNA), he talks about the focus of his future work.

CBA: Mr. Huppe, what do you want to focus on in your new office??
Huppe: The focus will be on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Together with the people concerned, I would like to develop an action plan that ensures their participation in all areas of life. This extends from kindergarten to school to working life. In the upcoming reform of the social inclusion system, it is important that participation be understood as a human right and that the principle of care be replaced.
CBA: Germany is at the bottom of the EU in the joint education of disabled and non-disabled children. What do you want to do about it?
Huppe: School policy is a state matter. Nevertheless, the federal states are bound by the UN Convention, as is the federal government. They are committed to a speedy introduction of an inclusive school system. International, but also German examples show how well such joint teaching works and how everyone benefits from it. I will counteract reservations through education. I offer the countries support in the implementation process, but I will also remind them again and again. It would help if the private schools, especially the church schools, would take the lead in this area.
CBA: Unemployment among people with disabilities is sometimes twice as high as among the rest of the population. What efforts are needed here?
Huppe: There are numerous instruments and programs that should enable participation in working life regardless of the form of disability. Unfortunately, they are not sufficiently used, are often hardly known to employees, employers but also to consultants. Instead of complicated and expensive inclusion programs, I focus on sustainability and independence. I consider combi-wages and personal budgets for work to be suitable instruments. Overall, though, it's not just a financial ie; it's also about a societal shift in thinking. Participation of people with disabilities must become a matter of course. The interview was conducted by Karin Wollschlager.

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