Disability in South America:
In Uruguay, cities like Montevideo are generally accessible while towns in the countryside are not. The same is true for Argentina, where Buenos Aires is very accessible and cities like Tucum'an are not, and communities like Amaicha del Valle are reminiscent of Alabama in the 1930's, with dirt roads and no provision for wheelchair access at all.
Countries Listed by Population in South America Include:
- Brazil - Population 193,891,867 - Brazil is one of the largest countries in South America, and thus has a large population of people with disabilities. The country's legal framework provides multiple protections for the rights of people with disabilities including Law 7853, which criminalized discrimination based on disability. In Brazil there are currently some 16 million people with special needs, of whom 9 million are working-age. Yet only 1 million Brazilians with disabilities are in the labor force and only 200 thousand have signed work papers.
- Colombia - Population 45,656,990 - Disability rights became explicitly recognized in Colombia when the national constitution was enacted in 1991. Columbia ratified the OAS Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities in 2002.
- Argentina - Population 40,085,130 - The number of people in Argentina with disabilities is estimated to be at least three million, with some government estimates rising to 7 - 8% of the total population. Disabled people's organizations estimate that 15% of the population has some form of disability.
- Peru - Population 29,368,000 - Peru became the 15th country to ratify the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the 9th country to ratify the accompanying Optional Protocol. The CRPD is an international human rights treaty focused on protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Some of the rights it is meant to protect include: equality before the law without discrimination; freedom from torture; right to live in the community; respect for home and the family; right to education; right to health; right to work; right to an adequate standard of living; right to participate in political and public life.
- Venezuela - Population 28,149,000 - In 2006 the Venezuelan National Assembly yesterday passed a new Law for Persons with Disabilities that will guarantee disabled people medical assistance and will ensure they are adequately represented in the work place. The law includes physical, hearing, mental, and visual disabilities.
- Chile - Population 17,295,000 - 25 years ago, Chile replaced its traditional old age security system with one in which workers contribute to accounts they individually own. The new disability system is less well-known than its pension scheme, but it is equally innovative. First, like the old age system, it is pre-funded, so each generation covers its own disability costs. Second, private pension funds and insurance companies participate in the process of assessing workers' disabilities, and financially benefit from controlling costs. Disability rates and costs in the new system are lower than in the old system and lower than in most other countries. Disabled workers who qualify are guaranteed a defined benefit for the balance of their lives: 70 percent of their average wage (if totally disabled) and 50 percent (if partially disabled)
- Ecuador - Population 14,228,000 - Approximately 13% of the population in Ecuador has some type of disability. Ecuador has a constitution that specifically addresses the topic of disability rights, to laws and regulations such as the Disability Act, the Regulations on the Registration of Persons with Disabilities, the Childhood and Adolescence Code, and the Labor Code. Unfortunately, poverty, social and architectural barriers, neglect, high levels of unemployment, and lack of access to training and education are just a few of the many obstacles that persons with disabilities must still overcome.
- Bolivia - Population 9,182,000 - Over 15% of Bolivia's population is disabled. Most disabilities are caused by preventable diseases such as polio and German measles, high malnutrition rates in children are also a major contributory factor. In 2007, International Service began a three year project in Bolivia, funded by Irish Aid, aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities and on mainstream disability issues in Bolivian society.
- Paraguay - Population 6,158,000 - Paraguay's definition of persons with disabilities is based on the WHO's definition of persons with disabilities. The Law 780, Article 6 defines them as exceptional, beneficiary or deficient persons who suffer a decrease of their mental or physical ability that affects their possibilities of self-sufficiency, learning or work, due to congenital or acquired causes. At the moment an accurate number of persons with disabilities in Paraguay and the distribution of persons with disabilities by age categories is unknown. However the majority of persons with disabilities in the country are children and youth, and the number of persons with disabilities is increasing due to the high rate of increase in population and lack of strategies for disability prevention, especially for primary prevention.
- Uruguay - Population 3,463,000 - Figures for Uruguay are separated for severe and all disability definitions. We observe a 2.5% of severe disability across the whole population. Only individuals aged 65 and more have more than average presence of disability, but the figure of 4.7% is not extremely large compared to the rest of the population. This indicates that, although severe disability is related to age, the incidence is not particularly higher for elderly people.
- Guyana - Population 751,000 - Guyana's constitution was recently amended by Bill 9 of 2003 which declared discrimination against people with disabilities unconstitutional. The government did not, however, sign the Inter-American Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination Against People with Disabilities. Important progress has been made in recent years to expand policy, programs and support to address the needs of persons with disabilities in Guyana through the further development to sector specific projects focusing largely on rehabilitation and education. But important and pressing challenges still remain to be addressed. Persons with disabilities are often the most disadvantaged of all groups in society. Many do not have access to education and employment which leads to social and economic exclusion. Persons with disabilities are often trapped in a cycle of poverty and disability; each being a cause and consequence of one another.
- Suriname - Population 499,000 - Disability rights are not high on the political agenda in Suriname. The development of services for people with disabilities has stagnated. The government lacks policy initiatives regarding this group and expresses limited support for initiatives by NGOs.
- French Guiana - Population 187,000
- Falkland Islands - Population 3,060
- South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands - Population 20