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Disability inclusion petition launched for foreign residents in Taiwan

Petition calls on health ministry to enable foreign permanent residents to qualify for disability certificate

(Carrie Kellenberger image)

(Carrie Kellenberger image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of foreign residents with disabilities in Taiwan created a petition calling on the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) to enable permanent foreign residents to qualify for a disability certificate.

Foreign residents with disabilities, including the blogger behind My Several Worlds, Carrie Kellenberger, and the non-profit organization Crossroads on April 14 launched a petition calling on Taiwan's health ministry to allow foreign permanent residents with physical or intellectual disabilities to qualify for a disability certificate. Foreign residents, even if they have lived in Taiwan for decades, are not eligible for disability assistance and services that Taiwanese citizens are able to receive.

Based on the estimated 5.1% of Taiwan's population and 16% of the global population with disabilities, the petition organizers estimated that there are between 40,000 and 176,000 foreigners with disabilities in Taiwan, due to age, accidents, disease, or genetic factors.

However, the current regulations only allow foreign residents from Japan to apply for a disability certificate. As a result, most expatriates are unable to employ home care migrant workers, apply for financial assistance for expensive medical equipment and services, enroll in special education, or obtain disability parking permits.

The petition calls on the MOHW to correctly enforce Article 4 of Taiwan's Act to Implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which directs Taiwan's government institutions to conform to Article 12 of the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which says "avoid violating the rights of persons with disabilities; protect the rights of all persons with disabilities from infringement by others; positively promote realization of human rights."

Michael Boyden, a U.K. citizen who has lived in Taiwan for 34 years and is diagnosed with Atypical Parkinsonism was quoted in the petition as saying: "I am not allowed home visits by medical professionals to evaluate care needs, no parking sticker for disability, no financial support for wheelchair taxi, no grants for the purchase of any assistive devices, no support to my wife who is taking care of me, no information on therapist need, no support on public transportation fare..."

Andrew Klerck, a South African citizen who has resided in Taiwan for 19 years and has been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa was cited as saying: "I am legally blind in both eyes with no functional vision. Some foundations offer training courses, counseling, and social care assistance to people with visual impairments, but their services are only for Taiwanese nationals. Assistive devices such as walking canes can be freely obtained, but only by local Taiwanese who are blind."

Kelleberger, who has lived in Taiwan since 2006 and suffers from Axial Spondyloarthritis, wrote the following in the comments section:

"I live in chronic pain every day. Disability affects EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. It’s expensive: Meds, supplements, vitamins, & liquid meals; medical supplies, parking costs, at home assistance, mobility aids, prosthetics, dietary needs, adaptive devices; disability taxis at NT$400, and many hospital visits each year add up. People with disabilities face higher healthcare costs, lower quality care, & less preventative care. It is important that everyone has access to disability services. Disability does not discriminate. Anyone can become disabled at any time. We all deserve to have equal access to Taiwan’s disability services."

The authors of the petition have set a goal of 5,000 signatures. As of publication, the petition has gained 316 signatures and will be open for further submissions until June 14.