New Horizons in Disability Law: Challenges and Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in Post-pandemic World

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X). This special issue belongs to the section "Human Rights Issues".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2024 | Viewed by 5467

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Department for Legal Sciences, Miguel Hernández University, 03201 Elche, Spain
Interests: human rights; disability law and policies; rights of persons with disabilities

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

On May 8th, 2023, we will celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Convention was a remarkable milestone, which deeply changed the approach of society and Law regarding people with disabilities. However, the implementation of the Convention in national legal systems is progressing slowly and faces considerable difficulties. In many countries, people with disabilities are still deprived of their human rights (right to vote, right to legal capacity, right to inclusive education, among others) or do not have the necessary support to overcome the barriers which hinder their full participation in society. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected people with disabilities, who in many cases have even been denied appropriate sanitary assistance.

This Special Issue aims to provide the scientific knowledge necessary to improve the implementation of the UN Convention and to help people with disabilities to face the new challenges of an increasing digital world. Among other goals, Laws intends to bridge traditional boundaries and challenge the injustices inherent in the law, and this Special Issue will contribute to these ends.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to):

  • The right to legal capacity;
  • Accessibility;
  • The right to health of people with disabilities: lessons from the pandemic;
  • Legal instruments to improve labor inclusion of persons with disabilities;
  • The right to inclusive education;
  • Political participation of people with disabilities;
  • Persons with disabilities and digitalization.

We seek contributions that will help legal systems and public policies better protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Therefore, critical reviews of legal reforms that have been undertaken in recent years, as well as studies which propose new legal reforms or identify new potential threats for the rights of people with disabilities and suggest legal instruments and public policies to overcome these issues, are especially welcome.

We look forward to receiving your contributions. 

Prof. Dr. Antonio Luis Martínez Pujalte
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • persons with disabilities
  • right to legal capacity
  • accessibility
  • disability law
  • disability policies
  • inclusive education
  • political participation
  • digitalization
  • labor inclusion

Published Papers (2 papers)

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48 pages, 420 KiB  
Deinstitutionalization as Reparative Justice: A Commentary on the Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, including in Emergencies
by Tina Minkowitz
Laws 2024, 13(2), 14; - 7 Mar 2024
Viewed by 2196
In this paper, I argue that the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, Including in Emergencies function as an instrument and template for reparative justice towards persons still in institutions and survivors of institutionalization. The Guidelines construct deinstitutionalization [...] Read more.
In this paper, I argue that the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, Including in Emergencies function as an instrument and template for reparative justice towards persons still in institutions and survivors of institutionalization. The Guidelines construct deinstitutionalization as a reparative process at both the systemic and individual levels, as well as calling for the creation of reparation and redress mechanisms. I examine the entire body of the Guidelines, highlight their reparative content, and point out where the text may fall short of this perspective and how the shortcomings might be remedied. This paper is grounded in the situation of psychiatric institutionalization and the concerns of people subjected to that system, emphasizing issues faced by this constituency and its human rights concerns for redress and legal and societal change. The issues addressed include the following: the strengthening of normative standards with regard to the abolition of psychiatric institutionalization and forced interventions and the obligation to immediately end these violations; a policy shift towards the de-medicalization of psychosocial disability; the implications of reparative justice in diminishing the role and authority of those that have operated institutions including the mental health system; the role of adult persons with disabilities as members of families and the role played by some family members in institutionalization; issues to be considered in designing reparations processes and mechanisms. Following some introductory remarks, this paper is structured to follow the outline of the Guidelines, quoting the text with interspersed comments and ending with a brief conclusion. Full article
17 pages, 1132 KiB  
A Four-Speed Reform: A Typology for Legal Capacity Reforms in Latin American Countries
by Renato Antonio Constantino Caycho and Renata Anahí Bregaglio Lazarte
Laws 2023, 12(3), 45; - 10 May 2023
Viewed by 2441
In the past few years, Latin American countries have started to enact changes in their legal capacity regulations regarding persons with disabilities. However, even when these changes started over eight years ago, there were few to no analyses on the matter. In addition, [...] Read more.
In the past few years, Latin American countries have started to enact changes in their legal capacity regulations regarding persons with disabilities. However, even when these changes started over eight years ago, there were few to no analyses on the matter. In addition, there is no encompassing theory or typology on how these reforms happen and on their effects. In the present paper, we propose two axes of analysis for the reforms: enforceability and compliance with Article 12 of the CRPD. This matrix allows for four kinds of reforms: incipient, formal, conciliatory and radical. Using this matrix, we examined the legislative changes in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. Incipient reforms (Mexico) are not that effective but can lead to serious later change. Formal reforms (the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua) have few to no effects. Conciliatory reforms (Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica) are a legislative compromise that allows for progressive change. Finally, radical reforms create encompassing change that is good but might create problems in the implementation. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Sense of School Belonging: Looking beyond school placement for a quality education for children with disability.

Keywords: Inclusive education, special education, disabilities, quality education choices, post pandemic


Purpose of Review:  We have now had almost two decades during which most policy makers and service providers sought to implement the mandates of the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities in their education systems.  In recent years a number of challenges to this initiative have arisen in the education of children with disabilities and these challenges were highlighted by constrains to school participation that arose during the pandemic period, and which have continued into the post-pandemic period. Thus, this is an appropriate point to reflect upon the assumptions behind approaches to full inclusion and how these may be nuanced in systems and practices in coming decades.

The ambition to create fully inclusive education systems for children with disabilities has not been uncontested from the beginning (Kauffman & Badar, 2014; Slee, 2011). Theories of inclusion and inclusive education have important implications for special education policies and practices in both developed and developing countries (Artiles et al., 2011; Singal & Muthukrishna, 2014). This paper responds to important directions affecting Australian school students raised the recent Review of the Australian Disability Standards (2020) and the protocols ratified for the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with a Disability (2009). The Review recommends that States and Territories in Australia commission the development of nationally consistent principles and practices on collection and public reporting of data on school students with a disability.

Recent Findings: The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration, agreed by all Australian education ministers in December 2019, sets out a vision for Australia of a world class education system that encourages and supports every student to be the very best they can be, no matter where they live, or what kind of learning challenges they may face. This vision includes students with a disability, who are a part of every aspect of education.  In the backdrop of any discussion regarding the contexts of education in Australia are two UN Conventions to which Australia is a signatory.  The first is Article 18 of the Right of the Child (CRC), (CRC, United Nations, 1990) and the second is Article 24 of the 2008 Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), CRPD, United Nations [UN], 2006, 2020). However, it is at the level of practice that inclusivity becomes contested particularly as to whether it can be implemented across all educational settings or whether it be restricted to mainstream classes as some would advocate.

 A broad range of research over the years has portrayed that while the intent of mainstreamed inclusive education is positive, many operational problems prevent its fulfilment. These include gatekeeping, restrictive practices, low expectations, lack of factors that have been reported throughout the hearings and have been duly recorded in Report 2 (August 2020), the Commission’s Interim report in August 2020 (Royal Commission, 2020).  While access, participation and equity are all correctly used as benchmarks, a new and more collective benchmark is being given priority in the literature. This examines the student’s Sense of School Belonging. Are the provided provisions of access, support, and inherent goodwill enough?  To what extent does the child with a disability feel welcome and engaged as a part of the school that they attend?  Do they feel that they belong?  Do they feel that they are at the acceptable margins of their fully inclusive school?

Summary: For most students with disability the development of positive relationships, school connectedness involves feeling part of the school community, feeling part of the school community, and feeling a sense of belonging are factors that directly impact their health, social, emotional, and academic outcomes.  However, while school climate and context play an important role in students’ school belonging, there is very little data on how such contexts and climate influence students’ belongingness. More specifically, there is even less research pertaining to students with disabilities and sense of school belonging within both general and special education settings. In this paper, the authors seek to explore the perspectives School Belonging of students with disabilities (SWD) in Australian schools, and to highlight measures by which such voices might be heard by significant stakeholders.

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