Disability is a matter of human rights

The analysis of findings gathered in this research can be found in the publication ‘Disability is a matter of human rights’ published by the Association of Students with Disabilities in 2006 and can be downloaded in either .doc or .pdf format.

The survey was conducted by the Association of Students with Disabilities among persons with disabilities in the period from November 2005 to February 2006.

The aim of this research was to look into experiences and personal attitudes of persons with disabilities regarding discrimination based on a disability and the fight against discrimination through various forms of legal aid.

The survey was published on a sample obtained by simple random sampling technique from the list of persons with disabilities available in the associations of students with disabilities in Serbia and Montenegro and by snowball sampling (a sampling technique where participants are chosen based on referral from prior participants – Trochim, 2004).

During the research process, 545 persons with varying forms of disabilities, level of education and age were surveyed. The research was conducted in 15 municipalities in Serbia (Belgrade, Aleksandrovac, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Zaječar, Niš, Majdanpek, Leskovac, Bor, Doljevac, Svrljig, Pirot, Kladovo, Negotin and Knjaževac) and 12 municipalities in Montenegro (Podgorica, Bar, Nikšić, Berane, Cetinje, Žabljak, Bijelo Polje, Danilovgrad, Herceg Novi, Tivat, Mojkovac and Kotor).

The survey was conducted using a questionnaire which contained multiple choice questions, open-ended questions and questions with both multiple choice and open-ended options. The questionnaire consisted of five parts.

In the first part of the questionnaire the data was gathered, based on which the analysis of the participants’ social status was made.

The second part of the survey provided the answers based on which the attitude of persons with disabilities towards discrimination based on their disability was analysed. Discrimination was investigated with regards to the participants’ period of life, and it was investigated also with regards to the discriminative environment in order to identify the environments in which the persons with disabilities are most discriminated. The surveyed persons could also describe the situations when they were discriminated in order to see how they understand mechanisms of discrimination.

The aim of the third part was to analyse the trust in legal system and the relationship of the participants towards legal advocacy for persons with disabilities in cases of discrimination based on their disability as well as experiences regarding the use of legal aid and obtaining information about the rights in general.

The fourth part investigated the areas in which persons with disabilities need legal aid most, from which organisations/institutions they expect the greatest support in the provision of legal services, as well as which conditions should be met for them to opt for a direct action.

The aim of the fifth group of questions was to investigate how participants perceive the status of persons with disabilities compared to the society as a whole, to look into the needs of persons with disabilities with regards to legal aid as well as the willingness to engage personally in exercising their rights.

For this research, the Association of Students with Disabilities managed to provide volunteer assistance from the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Along with the research team of the Association, a great contribution was made by partner organisations from Niš, Kragujevac and Podgorica, which are members of the Network of Youth and Students with Disabilities, but also by organisations that the Association has good cooperation with: the association of citizens with disabilities ‘SIZIF’ from Svrljig, the association ‘FREND’ from Majdanpek, the association of citizens ‘Good Tree’ from Zaječar, the association of persons with disabilities ‘Fenix’ from Pirot and the kids club without discrimination ‘Love, Faith, Hope’ from Kraljevo.

Some results obtained in this survey differ significantly from scarce official data. It is worth noting that the results obtained are valid only for the surveyed sample of persons with disabilities and not for the whole population of persons with disabilities.


The following factors were taken as relevant to our research: participants’ gender, age, type of disability, social status (which implies level of education, employment and purchasing power of participants), then place of residence as well as the place of residence at the time of growing up.

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