Bulgarian disability policies are developed in a political and populist manner, without any analyses and surveys of their efficiency and effectiveness, and at odds with the principles and values of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by Bulgaria in 2012. Our project aims at developing a methodology for monitoring disability policies that can provide objective and scientifically based evidence of how appropriate the respective policies are. Following a number of analyses carried out, the need of in-depth reforms in the social field will be demonstrated, reforms that can be the foundation of decision-making, formulation of public policies and holding a debate about the degree of social inclusion of people with disabilities. The planned activities, i.e. a sociological study, an empirical data analysis, publication of reports, public events, meetings with politicians and opinion leaders, aim to change attitudes and achieve public consensus about the reforms of disability policies. An inclusion index of people with disabilities will be developed under the project and it will be tested and systematically applied in the future so that the project outcomes will remain sustainable after the two years of planned activities as well. In addition, a research community will be set up under the project and researchers will be equipped with the tools to monitor disability policies aimed at the social inclusion of people with disabilities. The project is a joint effort of a coalition including two NGOs of people with disabilities, Sofia University and a private sociological agency. This organizational architecture is an example on its own of the manner in which cooperation in the area of disabilities should take place, combining the interests of people with disabilities, the scientific potential of the academic community and the entrepreneurial spirit of the business.
Summary of project results
The Inclusion and Disability project aimed to generate a methodology for monitoring disability policies that would provide – in an objective and scientifically based way – evidence for the appropriateness of certain policies. Through the development of a series of analyses, the need for deep reforms in the social sphere was shown, which will be the basis for decision-making, formulation of public policies and debate on the degree of inclusion of people with disabilities in society.
The complex political and epidemiological situation made the project team look for different and innovative forms of communication with the target groups and all stakeholders. Thus, the "new reality" of online meetings allowed us to communicate with the public all project activities, including holding a series of meetings with candidate deputies and various politicians.
Ultimately, through the combination of activities – a sociological research, analysis of empirical data, publication of reports, public events, meetings with politicians and members of the public – we aimed to change attitudes and achieve public consensus for disability policy reforms. In the course of the work, an index for the inclusion of people with disabilities was developed, which was tested in practice.
After the completion of the project, a methodology for monitoring disability policies has been developed, which will be systematically used in the future, so that the project will have sustainability even after the two years of planned activities.