Jordan: An
International Leader
in Disability Rights
By Sarah Jeglum, Carissa
Tyler, Saerom Han and
Shallon Counts
About Jordan
Population: 5,906,760
Population growth rate: 2.49%
Language: Arabic
Government type: Constitutional Monarchy
Independence: May 25, 1946 (from League of
Nations mandate under British administration)
Constitution: January 1, 1952; amended 1954,
1955, 1958, 1960, 1965, 1973, 1974, 1976,
Jordan as an International
Role Model
 Jordan is recognized by the
international community as leading the
Arab world in promoting disability
 Jordan was the first country in the
Middle East to enact disability-specific
legislation and introduce building
codes aimed at disability.
 Jordan was the first Arab or Islamic
state to receive the Franklin D.
Roosevelt International Disability
Award in
The CIEE (Council on International
program directly invites people with disabilities to participate in
its study-abroad programs in Jordan.
Jordan’s Disability Law
Through the Lens of
Jordan’s Constitutional Education Laws and
Jordan’s Laws for the Welfare of Disabled
Comparing Definitions of Disability: Jordan,
Jordan’s Disability Law on Education
US Disability Rights Law on Education
UN Disability Rights Law on Education
Summary of Comparison and Contrast
Among Jordan, US, and UN Disability Rights
Law on Education
Constitution on
 Chapter 2, Article 6
 (i) Jordanians shall be equal before the law.
 (ii) The Government shall ensure work and education within the limits of
its possibilities, and it shall ensure a state of tranquility and equal
opportunities to all Jordanians
 Article 19
 Congregations shall have the right to establish and maintain their own
schools for the education of their own members provided that they
comply with the general provisions of the law and be subject to the
control of Government in matters relating to their curricula and
 Article 20 (from revision in 1952)
 Elementary education shall be compulsory for Jordanians and free of
charge in Government schools
Jordan’s Disability Law
Laws for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (1993)
 The philosophy of the Kingdom of Jordan with regard to its disabled
citizens is based on Arab-Islamic values, the Jordanian constitution,
the National Charter, the Laws governing education and higher
education, the World Declaration on Human Rights, and the
International Declaration on Disabled Persons; and stresses the
following rights with respect to education:
 integration into the general life of the society
 education and higher education commensurate with his/her
 obtain such aids, equipment and materials that assist them in
 access to education, training and rehabilitation for those who have
multiple and severe disabilities
 participate in decision making pertaining to them
Defining Disability
 “any person with a permanent, partial or
total impairment in any of his senses or
physical, psychological or mental abilities
to the extent that the ability to learn to be
rehabilitated or to work, is limited in a
way which renders him/her short of
 An individual with:
fulfilling his/her normal daily
 (A) a physical or mental
requirements in circumstances similar to
impairment that
those of able-bodied persons.”
substantially limits one or
more of the major life
activities of such individual;
(Article 1) Persons with disabilities include
 (B) a record of such an
those who have long-term physical, mental,
impairment; or
intellectual or sensory impairments which in
 (C) being regarded as
interaction with various barriers may hinder
having such an impairment.
their full and effective participation in society
on an equal basis with others.
Education-related Definitions in
Jordan’s Law
Special Education: “Educational and teaching
services offered to disabled persons for the purpose of
fulfilling their needs, developing their capabilities and
helping them integrate into the society.”
Rehabilitation: “The services and activities, that
enable the disabled person to pursue his/her life in a
better manner on the physical, social, intellectual,
psychological and vocational levels.”
Jordan’s Disability &
Education Law
B. The right of disabled persons to education and higher
education commensurate with his/her abilities
G. The right of those who have multiple and severe
disabilities to education, training and rehabilitation.
 The Ministry in cooperation with the other Ministries,
Governmental Departments and all parties concerned with the
Welfare and Education of disabled persons, shall work towards
the provision by these parties of their services and programs for
the welfare of disabled persons.
 These ministries are to address issues involving education,
access to health care, integrating disabled persons into the
society, vocational training, mandoratory employment quotas,
Whose job is it to
 ARTICLE 4, B. The Ministry of Education
 Shall provide the educational assessment required for the determination
of the nature and degree of disability.
 Shall provide primary and all forms of secondary education for disabled
persons as commensurate with their capabilities, among which the
educational provisions that include programs of special education.
 Public and private schools concerned with the education and teaching of
disabled persons shall be covered by the Laws for the Welfare of
Disabled Persons and supervised by the Ministry of Education.
 ARTICLE 4, C. The Ministry of Higher Education and the
governmental and non-governmental Institutes for Higher
 Shall provide opportunities for disabled persons to exercise their rights to
such education as commensurate with their capabilities and potential.
 The Ministry of Higher Education shall work towards the training of
qualified technical staff to work with the various categories of disabled
Goals of Jordan’s Education
The Ministry of Social Development
 Special Education: The ministry provides educational, vocational,
rehabilitation, care, accommodation, and curative services for
disabled persons, through institutions, schools, centers and
special classes.
 It also implements a disabled employment program, and provides
free services and other exemptions to the disabled.
The existence of these goals is beneficial to
disabled individuals because they benefit
from the larger goals of the educational laws
in Jordan including:
 Abolishing illiteracy by opening more primary schools
 Establishing a limited number of secondary institutions
 Endowing them with human virtues and perfection
 Improving the professional training of teachers in rural and urban schools
 Fully developing their personalities in their various aspects, i.e. physical,
mental, spiritual, emotional, and social
Jordan’s Support for U.S.
Disability Rights Law
Disability Testimony by Her Majesty Queen Noor of
Jordan: U.S. Senate Victim Assistance Briefing, April 2002
“Full participation in society will
be achieved not by quote
"fixing" disabled people.”
“Americans have already made
great strides to dispel negative
stereotypes and ensure access
to care and livelihood. The
Americans with Disabilities Act
is setting important precedents
for disability rights around the
U.S. Disability & Education
Law: Secondary Education
The Law of Special Education: Preschool-12
Three major federal statutes typically regulate the
law of special education for children in preschool
through twelfth grade: Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, Titles II and III of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
For most children with disabilities, IDEA is the
primary source of legal protection.
 About the IDEA
 IDEA is a statute that gives children with disabilities certain
procedural protections (through their parents or guardians) as well
as certain substantive guarantees.
 The IDEA is the major federal statute that guarantees that each
child under the age of 21 receives an appropriate education. To
qualify for these services, the child must be at least 3 years of age
but not yet 22 years old, and it does not apply to postsecondary
 The purpose of the IDEA is to ensure that all children with
disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public
education that emphasizes special education and related services
designed to meet their needs and prepare them for employment and
independent living.
 Definition of Disability
 Like the ADA, the IDEA contains its own definition of disability. Only
children who are educationally disabled fall within the scope of the
Disability Defined by the IDEA
In general, a child in K-12 is disabled for the
purposes of the IDEA if he or she has:
Mental retardation
Hearing impairments
Speech or language impairments
Visual impairments
Serious emotional disturbance
Orthopedic impairments
Traumatic brain injury
Other health impairments or specific learning
disabilities and thus needs special education and
related services.
Disability Further Defined
Regarding children age 3-9, a state
may include children who are not
specifically labeled as disabled under
one of the categories listed above but
who are experiencing developmental
delays in one or more of the following
Cognitive development
Physical development
Communication development
Social or emotional development, or
Adaptive development
And thus need special education
and related services
U.S. Postsecondary Education
 Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA prohibit
colleges and universities from discriminating on the basis of a
 Laws Governing Disability Discrimination in
Postsecondary Education
 Section 504 governs all postsecondary institutions that receive
federal financial assistance.
 Title II of the ADA applies to all state-funded or supported
a postsecondary institution governed
by Section 504 or ADA Titles II/III may not
 Title III of the ADA covers all private institutions
exclude an otherwise qualified student from any
part of it’s program or services or otherwise
discriminate against an applicant or student with
a disability.
Entities covered by Section 504 or ADA Titles II
or III must ensure that students with disabilities
 Colleges are not required to engage in
affirmative action in admitting students with
disabilities. The only requirement is that
institutions do not discriminate against qualified
individuals with disabilities in the admissions
 A qualified individual with a disability is one who is
capable of fulfilling the essential functions or
requirements of the educational program, with or
without the provision of reasonable accommodations,
and meets the academic and technical requirements
of the program.
 Regarding Pre-Admission Inquires
 A college or university has the option of making preadmission inquiries as to whether an applicant for
admission is disabled.
Eligibility Criteria and Accommodations
 Regarding Eligibility Criteria
 Schools are not required to lower their admissions
standards for applicants with disabilities.
 Regarding Reasonable Accommodations
 Schools are required to make reasonable
accommodations for qualified individuals with known
An accommodation is not reasonable if it would
constitute and undue burden or hardship to provide it
or if it would require a fundamental alteration to the
program at issue.
Suggested Accommodations are:
Changes in the length of time permitted for
completion of a course or degree,
Substitution of specific courses required, and
Adaptation in the manner in which specific courses
are conducted.
Individuals with Learning Disabilities
 The IDEA mandates services for students who have a
learning disability, which is defined as a disorder in one
or more of the basic psychological processes
involved in understanding or in using language,
spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself
in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write,
spell, or do mathematical calculations.
 Learning is considered a major life activity under the ADA.
 A person with a learning disability is considered disabled
under the ADA only if the learning problem significantly
restricts the condition, manner, or duration of his learning
disability as compared to the average person in the
general population.
Jordan’s Support for UN Law
Jordan: Prince Raad bin Zaid in Support of the UN Conventio
Paralympic Committee Symposium, Greece
 “Thus differences based on arbitrary
factors from a moral point of view
over which a person has no control,
are considered invalid. This is not to
say that there are no differences
between the people; but in the realm
of disability rights our struggle was to
call for a genuinely egalitarian
society, one that has a positive and
just approach human differences.
The disability rights debate is not
about the enjoyment of specific
rights, but about ensuring the
effective enjoyment of all human
 Disability:
UN Definitions
 Disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction
between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers
that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with
 People with disabilities:
 Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental,
intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may
hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with
Discrimination on the basis of disability" means
any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the
basis of disability which has the purpose or effect
of impairing or nullifying the recognition,
enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with
others, of all human rights and fundamental
freedoms in the political, economic, social,
cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all
forms of discrimination, including denial of
reasonable accommodation.
Education: Article 24
 1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities
to education. With a view to realizing this right without
discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States
Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels
and life long learning directed to:
a. The full development of human
potential and sense of dignity and selfworth, and the strengthening of respect
for human rights, fundamental freedoms
and human diversity;
b. The development by persons with
disabilities of their personality, talents
and creativity, as well as their mental
and physical abilities, to their fullest
c. Enabling persons with disabilities to
participate effectively in a free society.
States’ Responsibilities
2. In realizing this right, States Parties
shall ensure that:
 a. Persons with disabilities are not excluded
from the general education system on the
basis of disability, and that children with
disabilities are not excluded from free and
compulsory primary education, or from
secondary education, on the basis of
 b. Persons with disabilities can access an
inclusive, quality and free primary education
and secondary education on an equal basis
with others in the communities in which they
 c. Reasonable accommodation of the
individual’s requirements is provided;
 d. Persons with disabilities receive the support
required, within the general education system,
to facilitate their effective education;
 e. Effective individualized support measures
States’ Responsibilities
 3. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to
learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full
and equal participation in education and as members of the
community. To this end, States Parties shall take
appropriate measures, including:
a. Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script,
augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of
communication and orientation and mobility skills, and
facilitating peer support and mentoring;
b. Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion
of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
c. Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular
children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the
most appropriate languages and modes and means of
communication for the individual, and in environments which
maximize academic and social development.
What is
 4. In order to help ensure the realization of this right,
States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ
teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are
qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train
professionals and staff who work at all levels of education.
Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and
the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative
modes, means and formats of communication, educational
techniques and materials to support persons with
 5. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities
are able to access general tertiary education, vocational
training, adult education and lifelong learning without
International Covenant
on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights
Article 13
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant
recognize the right of everyone to education. They
agree that education shall be directed to the full
development of the human personality and the
sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They
further agree that education shall enable all persons
to participate effectively in a free society, promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among all
nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups,
International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant
recognize that, with a view to achieving the full
realization of this right:
 (a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to
 (b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical
and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally
available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in
particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
 (c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on
the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in
particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
 (d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as
far as possible for those persons who have not received or
completed the whole period of their primary education;
 (e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be
International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant
undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents
and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for
their children schools, other than those established by
the public authorities, which conform to such minimum
educational standards as may be laid down or
approved by the State and to ensure the religious and
moral education of their children in conformity with
their own convictions.
4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to
interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to
establish and direct educational institutions, subject
always to the observance of the principles set forth in
Convention on the
Rights of a Child
Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to
education, and with a view to achieving this right
progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity,
they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary
education, including general and vocational education, make
them available and accessible to every child, and take
appropriate measures such as the introduction of free
education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of
capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance
Convention on the
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures
to ensure that school discipline is administered in a
manner consistent with the child's human dignity and
in conformity with the present Convention.
3. States Parties shall promote and encourage
international cooperation in matters relating to
education, in particular with a view to contributing to
the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout
the world and facilitating access to scientific and
technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In
this regard, particular account shall be taken of the
needs of developing countries.
ummary of Jordan vs. U.S. Disability Law on
Compare Education
 Similar definitions of disability
 Integration and inclusion of
disabled individuals
 Compulsory education for
certain age groups
 Both contain elements related
to helping disabled individuals
with obtaining employment
 US defines disability more
specifically with respect to
educational laws
 Jordan focus on medical
model: vocation, rehabilitation,
and curative services
 US defines what constitutes a
reasonable accommodation to
educational services and
 Jordan does not have any
laws regarding admittance to
post-secondary education
 Jordan goal in education to
enhance students’
personalities and human
 One US goal in special
education is to prepare
students for independent living
Summary of Jordan vs. UN Disability Law
Compare on Education Contrast
 Both recognize the right of
disabled persons to enjoy
educational opportunities free
of discrimination
 Both mention development of
disabled individuals
 Both stress integration into
society through education for
people with disabilities
 Both seek to train qualified
individuals to help disabled
individuals fully realize their
rights in the area of education
 Definition of disability, UN
mentions long-term descriptor
and hindrance in integrating
into society
 UN mentions specific
measures educational facilities
should take to facilitate
learning by disabled
individuals with visual or
hearing impairments
 UN includes provisions related
to post-secondary education,
adult education, and lifelong
Jordan has proven itself to be a leader in disability
rights law. The views of the country’s monarchy also
reflect the progressive trend of Jordan’s stance on
disability rights law.
Jordan’s support for US and UN disability rights law
symbolizes its shift away from a medical model and
towards a social model of disability rights.
Jordan has the opportunity to use its status as a
leader in disability rights laws in the Middle East to
spread its views on disability rights to other nations in
the region.
Comparing Jordan’s disability rights law with similar
US and UN laws reveals that Jordan has a