By an Act supplementing the Chancellor of Justice Act adopted on 13 June 2018, the Riigikogu imposed new duties on the Chancellor of Justice. As of 1 January 2019, the Chancellor’s institution serves simultaneously as the national human rights institution and also performs the tasks of protection and promotion arising from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The amendment to the Act will ensure better protection of human rights in Estonia, including the rights of persons with disabilities.

National Human Rights Institution

The new role as the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) strengthens the Chancellor's current daily work in protecting and promoting human rights, adding an international dimension to the Chancellor’s activities. National human rights institutions (hereinafter ‘human rights institutions’) are independent national institutions established under the Constitution or law and tasked with protecting and promoting human rights. These institutions are recognised partners for the United Nations and the European Union as well as for international organisations. This means, for example, that these are the institutions that UN agencies and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights contact when seeking independent and fact-based information about the human rights situation in a specific country. 

Network of human rights institutions

The idea of creating human rights institutions originated immediately after World War II. However, the official beginning of the network of such institutions is considered 1993 when the UN General Assembly approved the so-called Paris Principles. The Paris Principles adopted by UN General Assembly resolution set out that the member states will establish a National Human Rights Institution in line with the conditions set out in the resolution. In recent decades, the role of human rights institutions has gradually grown and their importance in promoting and protecting human rights has been repeatedly underlined by the United Nations, the European Union, as well as the Council of Europe. 

The national human rights institution is an independent institution not subordinated to the Government. It is not a civic organisation but cooperates actively with civil society organisations. The national human rights institution does not administer justice. 

The Paris Principles set out the principles and minimum standards to be observed when creating a national human rights institution, but do not impose restrictions on the institutional model. In line with the Paris Principles, it has to be an independent institution (inter alia, its autonomy should be ensured through adequate funding), independent of the Government, established under the law and the Constitution, and with a mandate set forth by law for protecting and promoting human rights. Thus, ‘national human rights institution’ is a general term, meaning that these institutions in Europe and across the world are very diverse – having a different structure (e.g. committees, ombudsman-type institutions, institutes), functions, and mandate. There are institutions the majority of whose work is made up of surveys and research projects (e.g. the Danish Institute for Human Rights). At the same time, there are institutions that bring important human rights cases before the courts (e.g. the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission). The diversity arises from countries’ different legal systems, history, and practice of human rights protection. A human rights institution similar to the one in Estonia exists, for instance, in Latvia (accredited, A-status). 

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights is currently preparing a study on human rights institutions in the European Union. The study will compare the models and powers of these institutions, as well as best practices in protecting human rights. The results of the study will be published in 2020.

Under the Paris Principles, the role of the human rights institutions is fairly broad, but they have two main areas of responsibility: 

  • promotion, i.e. creating and supporting a national culture of human rights;
  • protection of human rights, i.e. identifying, investigating and drawing attention to human rights abuses.

The tasks of the institution are the following:

  • advising the Government and the parliament on human rights issues; 
  • cooperating with other national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, stakeholders, international agencies and organisations; 
  • presenting overviews and reports on the human rights situation to the bodies and committees of international human rights organisations. 

Accreditation – what, how and why?

Every national human rights institution may seek official international accreditation status, which gives the institution additional rights within the UN human rights protection system and links it more strongly to other human rights institutions and international organisations. An international support system is extremely important for better protection of human rights, as it enables cooperation, receiving and disseminating information, seeking advice, and where necessary, finding official support. For example, in June 2019 the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) together with other organisations released a public statement in support of the Polish national human rights institution. 

In charge of the accreditation process is the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), more specifically its Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA). The SCA consists of human rights institutions with ‘A’ status: it comprises one institution from each of the GANHRI regions (Africa, America, Asia- and the Pacific, and Europe). Institutions are appointed as members of the Sub-Committee for a term of three years. 

In the accreditation process, the SCA assesses whether the specific human rights institution complies with the Paris Principles and determines the institution’s status. ‘A’ status means that the institution is in full compliance with the Paris Principles; ‘B’ status means that it is not fully in compliance with the Paris Principles or has not yet submitted the relevant documentation to assess this; and ‘C’ status means that the institution is not compliant with the Paris Principles. 

In 2019, there were over a hundred human rights institutions in the world, 79 of which are accredited and in full compliance with the Paris Principles (i.e. they have ‘A’ status). The full country list is available on the GANHRI website

In January 2019, the Chancellor submitted an official request to the Sub-Committee on Accreditation to start the accreditation process. A more specific schedule will be determined in October 2019 after discussion in the SCA. An institution with ‘A’ status may participate in sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and make oral presentations under any agenda item, participate in plenary debates through a video message, submit documentation and written opinions, and organise separate events in the areas of activity of the Human Rights Council. An institution with ‘A’ status may also submit comments on Estonia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report, or in other words, give an assessment of the human rights situation in Estonia. That is, opinions submitted by the Government and civil society organisations would be complemented by analysis from the Chancellor as the Estonian National Human Rights Institution. 

Since February 2019, the Chancellor’s institution is also a member of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI). This network supports the Chancellor in the accreditation process. 

Cooperation with civil society organisations and interest groups 

National human rights institutions actively cooperate with several interest groups. These institutions are like a bridge between civil society organisations and the government and the international human rights protection network. 

On 26 March 2019, the Advisory Committee on Human Rights set up by the Chancellor of Justice convened for the first time. 

The Advisory Committee has 50 members. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to advise the Chancellor on issues of human rights protection and promotion and in monitoring the situation, including:

  • identifying the human rights protection situation;
  • raising human rights problems and finding solutions to them;
  • identifying the need for studies on human rights and organising those studies;
  • promoting human rights education;
  • improving exchange of information between interest groups.

Advisory Committee members are selected through public competition by a committee set up by the Chancellor. The competition was announced on 20 February. In the announcement, the Chancellor noted that she expected people with education or work experience in the following fields to participate in the competition:

  • protection of the rights of the elderly, children and young people;
  • protection of the rights of people with disabilities;
  • social welfare;
  • equal treatment;
  • violence prevention;
  • education and research;
  • healthcare;
  • gene technology and medical ethics;
  • labour law;
  • protection of personal data;
  • ethnicity and language;
  • religion;
  • environment;
  • migration.

To stand as a candidate in the competition, an individual had to submit a brief opinion on the human rights situation in the field that they know best. In selecting the Advisory Committee members, the selection committee set up by the Chancellor proceeded from principles of equal treatment, diversity, and balance.

Under the Advisory Committee’s statutes, the Chancellor may where necessary invite new members to the Advisory Committee; a member’s mandate is personal; membership of and participation in the work of the Advisory Committee is voluntary. The Chancellor may also ask advice from an Advisory Committee member directly or convene sectoral working groups.

The Advisory Committee is elected for a term of four years and holds meetings at least twice a year. Opinions and recommendations expressed by members of the Advisory Committee are not binding on the Chancellor.

At the opening session on 26 March, all members briefly introduced their experience and knowledge and expressed their expectations as to the Advisory Committee’s work. The second part of the opening session was dedicated to discussion (both group discussion and plenary debate) on poverty and deprivation. Advisory Committee members noted that they wanted to know more about the Chancellor’s activities: an overview of problems resolved by the Chancellor and the competence of the Chancellor’s institution. 

Activities of the national human rights institution in 2019

January 2019

Head of NHRI activities took up their post in the Chancellor’s Office. 

The Chancellor submitted a request to the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions to become a member of the network.

The Chancellor submitted a request to the Secretariat of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation to start the accreditation process.

February 2019

The Chancellor became a member of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions. 

The Chancellor announced a competition to find members to serve on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights.

March 2019

The head of NHRI activities in the Chancellor’s Office attended a meeting of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions in Geneva. 

The Sub-Committee on Accreditation decided to schedule an overview of the Chancellor’s institution for March 2020. A more precise schedule will be determined in October.

The head of the NHRI was on a study visit to the Danish national human rights institution. 

On 26 March, the opening session of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights was held. 

April 2019

An official from the Chancellor’s Office participated in a meeting of the Asylum and Migration Working Group of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions in Zagreb.

June 2019

The head of NHRI activities attended a meeting organised by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna where she provided an overview of the situation in Estonia for a comparative study.

August 2019

Meeting with the Finnish human rights institution. 

September 2019

Second session of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights (on 24 September).

Protection of the rights of people with disabilities

The Riigikogu ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter ‘the Convention’) and its Optional Protocol on 21 March 2012. By doing so, Estonia assumed the obligation to promote the opportunities of persons with disabilities to participate fully and independently in society. Under Article 4 of the Convention, States Parties must undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures to implement the rights set out in the Convention. 

To attain the aims set out under the Convention, Article 33, paragraph 1, of the Convention obliges each State Party to establish an institution or organisation to deal with implementing the Convention. For years, debate was ongoing about which organisation(s) could fulfil this role in Estonia. In summer 2018, the Riigikogu decided to entrust the Chancellor of Justice with this task. The parliament supplemented the Chancellor of Justice Act with a provision, according to which, as of 1 January 2019, the Chancellor fulfils the role of promoter and monitor of the obligations and aims set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Chancellor helps to ensure that people with disabilities can exercise fundamental rights and freedoms on an equal basis with others. 

The new tasks were also accompanied by additional funding from the state budget that helped the Chancellor to include a Head of Disability Rigts in her Office. 

In spring 2019, the Chancellor convened the Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities, which held its opening meeting on 31 May. Members of the Advisory Council are people with disabilities and representatives of their organisations. The Advisory Council hold regular meetings at least twice a year. If necessary, working groups are formed to deal with specific subjects. 

At the first meeting, problems important for people with disabilities that need to be resolved were formulated and expectations were expressed regarding the work of the Advisory Council. Plans of the Riigikogu Social Affairs Committee for the next four years in relation to ensuring the rights of people with disabilities were also heard. The Advisory Council highlighted the issue of accessibility (of buildings and transport as well as information) and availability of services (regional differences, complicated and burdensome procedures, and inadequate amount of services).

The Chancellor’s Office also closely communicates with the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, in cooperation with whom we resolve problems of people with disabilities. 

Reporting on implementation of the Convention

Under Article 35 of the Convention, States Parties submit reports to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on measures taken to give effect to obligations under the Convention and on progress made in that regard. Estonia submitted its state report in November 2015. 

The Committee also expects organisations representing persons with disabilities, as well as organisations monitoring implementation of the Convention under Article 33, to express an opinion on reports submitted by States Parties.

On 9 April 2019, a meeting took place in Geneva with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A Chancellor’s Adviser as well as representatives of the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People attended the meeting. Together, they provided the Committee with an overview of implementation of the Convention and the situation of people with disabilities in Estonia. 

Prevention and promotion

The Chancellor’s task is to introduce the rights of people with disabilities and to ensure that they are involved in decision-making and in the life of society in general. We consider it important to raise awareness of society about the rights of people with disabilities.

The Chancellor and her advisers actively participate in public and specialist debates, speak at seminars and conferences and in the media. The Chancellor’s advisers have written in the journals Sotsiaalöö [Social Work] and Juridica. Kristi Ploomi and Riste Uuesoo dealt in their article with the issue of providing information about social services on websites of rural municipalities and cities, Juta Saarevet wrote about the Chancellor’s activities in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Vallo Olle about problems with mandatory social services organised by rural municipalities and cities

In order for us to be able to correctly assess the situation of people with disabilities, it needs to be studied. Currently, Estonia lacks a reliable integrated picture and statistics about how well or poorly the rights of people with disabilities have been ensured. For example, no overview of accessibility exists. It is not known how many healthcare or educational institutions or places of provision of social services are accessible to people with disabilities; data is also lacking as to the extent of accessibility of public transport for everyone. To obtain an overview, the Chancellor asked for information from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, the Health Board, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Social Insurance Board. An overview is necessary to enable moving step by step closer to a situation where the rights of people with disabilities are fully ensured.

Access to elections

The state must take care that all voters, including people with disabilities, can exercise their political rights on an equal basis. This means that voting procedures, facilities and materials should be adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, appropriate, accessible and easy for them to understand and use (Article 29 of the Convention).

The Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, in a shadow report (page 135) prepared in 2018, drew attention to the limited possibilities of people with disabilities to participate in elections. „Persons with disabilities cannot always decide on the manner of voting – they are forced either to cast an online vote or have a ballot box delivered to their home“, the Chamber noted in their report.

In 2019, two elections were held in Estonia: elections for the Riigikogu and for the European Parliament. In this connection, the Chancellor addressed rural municipal and city council chairs and rural municipal and city government mayors with a request to designate as polling stations only those buildings which are accessible to all voters. In cooperation with the national election service and the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, information needed by voters with special needs was made more accessible and is now easier to find. Information needed by voters with special needs was added to the elections website at Voters with special mobility needs could use the map application of polling divisions which enables a person to easily find the location of their polling station and obtain information about access to it. The map application showed whether the polling station was accessible independently in a wheelchair and, for example, also with a baby carriage.

Since not all polling stations were accessible, during the Riigikogu election the Chancellor repeated her call before the European Parliament election. On the European Parliament election day, the Chancellor’s advisers visited polling stations. It was found that alongside easily accessible polling stations there were still stations which voters with special mobility needs could not access independently. 

Although in the case of elections persons with special mobility needs may decide to vote online or request a ballot box to be delivered to their home, those solutions should not be forced on them. Everyone is entitled to vote at a polling station. In order to ensure that persons with disabilities can independently access all polling stations during the next election, the Chancellor made a proposal to the Riigikogu to lay down the requirement of accessibility of polling stations in election legislation.

Access to buildings 

Under Article 9 of the Convention, the state must ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, inter alia, to the physical environment and public buildings and services. In view of the resource intensity of reorganisation and rebuilding activities and the time needed for this, movement towards this goal should occur step by step. It is certainly necessary to rule out situations where access actually deteriorates as a result of a new construction or reconstruction. 

Currently, there is no overview of how many establishments performing public functions are accessible to persons with disabilities. However, taking a look at polling stations which usually operate in school or municipality buildings or community centres, it may be concluded that problems still exist with access to many public establishments.

Requirements for access to buildings arising from special needs of persons with disabilities have been established by the Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Regulation No 28 of 29 May 2018 adopted on the basis of the Building Code. As of 1 January 2019, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority was empowered with checking the conformity of buildings with these requirements. As no legal requirements on accessibility of buildings existed from 1 July 2015 (when the Building Act lost validity) to 3 June 2018, supervision is exercised only over buildings that were or have been built (or renovated) during the validity of the requirements. 

In connection with renovation of a hobby school in Tallinn, the Chancellor received a petition referring to a contradiction between the accessibility requirement and heritage conservation restrictions. Tallinn Education Board replied to an enquiry by the Chancellor’s Office that all schools (including the hobby school in question) are made accessible during renovations. Based on heritage protection requirements, the most suitable solution to achieve this is chosen.

In the Chancellor’s opinion, by weighing different interests and needs, a compromise can almost always be found in the case of which neither the unique historical character of a building under heritage protection nor the needs of people with disabilities suffer. Often, however, the easiest path is taken, thus leading to a conflict between the demands of people with disabilities and prohibitions imposed by the heritage conservation authorities. In recent years, lifts have been installed, easing the effort of the elderly and people with disabilities in accessing a building, for example, in Tallinn Town Hall and other buildings housing public entities. This demonstrates that invaluable historical buildings can continue serving public interests in line with 21st century conditions, needs and expectations. 

Access to public transport 

Article 9 requires the state to ensure equal access to public transport for persons with disabilities. Accessible public transport creates a precondition for persons with disability to be able to independently participate in the life of society. To fulfil the requirement set out in the Convention, the state must also amend laws and other legislation where necessary.

As in the case of buildings, access to public transport often also presumes large-scale investment. In this context, state and local authorities can move forward step by step. According to the „Transport development plan 2014–2020“, approved by the Riigikogu, “the transport system must enable safe and environmentally sustainable mobility for everyone, and planning and building of the mobility environment must proceed from the principles of universal design and the different needs of diverse social groups“. Under § 10(1) clause 1 of the Public Transport Act, public transport is intended for use by everyone, and its organisation must also take into account the mobility needs of persons with disabilities. A regional public transport centre must ensure that the residents of the region are provided with less expensive and economically more efficient public transport (§ 15(3) Public Transport Act). The law does not oblige a contracting authority or entity to procure accessible buses; accessibility requirements may be set by a contracting authority or entity themselves. 

A good example of creating accessible public transport is Pärnu County where it is expected that on 1 October 2019 all county bus transport will be accessible. In Tartu, too, all passengers are able to enter a bus without assistance. However, not everywhere is the situation like that.

The Chancellor was contacted by a parent whose child could no longer travel independently on a regular bus as bus transport on her way to school had been reorganised. State-owned low-entry buses were transferred from the Tallinn-Kiili route to service other routes. A child using an electric wheelchair who had so far been able to ride the regular bus to school as well as to leisure events was deprived of the opportunity of independent mobility. In cooperation with the bus company, an opportunity was found for the child’s transport to school and back, but other trips were left mostly for the local authority and the parents to arrange. The family, who until then needed no social transport, was forced to apply to the local authority for the social transport service for the child.

According to the Chancellor’s assessment, the issue of accessibility needs to be resolved in cooperation between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Road Administration, and regional public transport centres. Unless required by law that public transport vehicles must also be accessible ‒ for instance, to wheelchair users ‒ in legal terms there is nothing that entities procuring vehicles through public tender can be reproached for. However, where the situation of people with disabilities deteriorates – a bus route network is changed and/or an accessible bus is replaced with a one not suitable as transport for disabled passengers – Estonia is in conflict with the Convention requirements protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. On that basis, the Chancellor made a proposal to amend the law so that at least public transport financed from public funds should be accessible to everyone.

Another example of regression is public transport organisation related to train transport. Trains are accessible to everyone and enable people with special mobility needs to move independently. For the period of planned renovations on the railway, trains are being replaced with buses which are, unfortunately, not accessible to wheelchair users. 

The reply given by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications shows that the Ministry does not consider it necessary, possible or reasonable to obtain buses suitable for people with special mobility needs for the period of planned railway renovations. The reason is the higher price of the service and the fact that it is complicated to find buses for non-regular transport. Several organisations and establishments (including the Chancellor’s Office) have faced the same problem when needing to commission a public transport vehicle for their whole staff, also including employees with special mobility needs. 

Procurement rules neither for regular nor non-regular transport include a requirement of accessibility of buses, so that no sufficient supplay for such buses has developed on the market. 

Currently, Estonia is lacking a system to gradually improve the accessibility of public transport and rule out the setbacks described above. Problems with creating such a system may be understandable but hiding endlessly behind arguments of market failure, and the like, does not relieve Estonia of complying with the requirements laid down in the Convention. According to the Chancellor’s assessment, the law should be amended and the requirement for accessibility of public transport made mandatory for everyone. Where necessary, flexible transition periods could apply, taking into account depreciation of the existing bus fleet and other circumstances.

Access to social services

Petitions received by the Chancellor reveal that the organisation of social services in Estonia is still complicated and accessibility of those services causes problems. The first to suffer are people with disabilities who are unable to participate in the life of society without receiving the necessary service. (For more detail, see the chapter “Social security”.)

Access to e-services

By acceding to the Convention, Estonia undertook an obligation to ensure to persons with disabilities access to information and communication on an equal basis with others, including access to communications technologies and systems and public services. Estonia is a developed e-solutions based country where personal identity cards are widely used to access public as well as private e-services.

Introduction of ever new e-services means, inter alia, that some services are from the start developed only as e-services and the same service is not available by any other means at all. If IT development fails to pay sufficient attention to all users (including users with special needs), it is inevitable that new solutions are introduced that cannot be used by everyone. This excludes certain members of society, thereby violating their rights.

For example, at the beginning of 2019 the Estonian Information System Authority introduced new ID card software Digidoc4, but it turned out that the new version failed to function with screen readers used by visually impaired persons. However, when working with a computer and IT tools visually impaired persons use screen readers that read out the text to them. These people lost the opportunity to safely give digital signatures and verify their validity. Visually impaired people contacted the Chancellor for assistance.

For many people with disabilities, e-government means a convenient opportunity to independently communicate with the state and fulfil their duties. With the help of the ID card, they can carry out banking transactions, order food, books and commodities from an e-shop for delivery to their home, enter into contracts, operate as members of the board of an association, etc. However, if something happens with the electronic identity of these people (forgetting the password, the card getting locked, software renewal that is no longer interoperable with the screen reader, etc.), they also lose independent access to the state and the services offered by it. 

The Chancellor resolved problems related to Digidoc4 in cooperation with the Information System Authority and the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People. The Chancellor’s Office asked the Minister of Information about resolving the problems of Digidoc4 as well as more generally about all IT developments and new e-services. 

The Data Protection Inspectorate has been given a new task: to verify whether public websites and mobile applications conform to the requirements of accessibilityAccording to a study, only a small share of public websites conforms to the requirements of the WCAG 2.0 standard (WCAG 2.0 is an international standard administered by the World Wide Web Consortium and dealing with different user technologies for web content accessibility, including technologies intended for people with special needs). Naturally, upgrading websites requires money and time. A positive development is that several essential websites have been upgraded, for example the website for government agencies. According to the Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology, no additional funds have yet been allocated to the Data Protection Inspectorate for fulfilling the new task. 

Children with special needs in kindergarten and school

During the reporting year, the Chancellor received several petitions asking about creation of necessary conditions for children with special needs, including children with behavioural problems, in kindergartens and schools. Assistance was sought by parents wishing to offer the necessary support and help to their child with special needs, as well as parents whose children did not feel safe in school or kindergarten as the institution concerned was unable to control children with behavioural problems. 

A child in need of support in kindergarten and school

Schools and kindergartens have the duty to ensure the safety and well-being of a child in need of support as well as that of their peers and of the whole staff. Kindergartens and schools must create the necessary conditions for ascertaining the special educational needs of children and young people and on that basis offer them the necessary support. (For more detail, see the Chapter “Children and young people”).

Access to higher education at the University of Tartu

The Chancellor was contacted by a student from the University of Tartu claiming that she had been discriminated against during studies due to her disability. Although in the specific case no discrimination on the ground of disability was found, several shortcomings in the education of students with special needs were revealed. 

The University of Tartu deserves recognition for many things it has done in order to ensure the opportunity for students with special needs to participate smoothly in their studies, but administrative procedures at the university could nevertheless be clearer. On that basis, the Chancellor made a proposal to the University of Tartu to supplement the regulation on organisation of studies so that it would be absolutely clear for students with special needs, as well as their fellow students and teaching staff, that adjustments on account of special needs must be made (i.e. they are mandatory) in the study process. For example, a student with special needs may require additional time to sit an examination or they should be given an opportunity to write the exam paper on a computer and not by hand. Responsibility must be distributed clearly, so as to ensure that making adjustments during the whole study period is smoothly arranged. 

Information relating to special needs is deemed sensitive. Therefore, it is also necessary to regulate more precisely how much information students themselves must provide to the university so as to enable the school to make the necessary adjustments.

The principle of universal design

Article 2 of the Convention uses the concept of “universal design”: products, environments, programmes and services should be designed so as to be usable by all people. Universal design should apply to both products and services, including public services. Legislators should also bear the principle of universal design in mind. 

In order to enable people with disabilities to participate in the life of society on an equal basis with others, it may be necessary to make adjustments and changes. Adjustments and changes to the habitual way of dealing with matters should also be made by the state and local authorities.

A creator of a public service, including the legislator, should contemplate who might be using the service or who is compelled to use the service. It should be ensured that the service is created in line with the principle of universal design and functions flawlessly for all potential service users.

When enforcement proceedings are initiated in respect of a person, as a rule, the bank blocks their access to the internet bank. To carry out banking transactions, the debtor has to go to a bank branch and also pay a service fee for transactions made there. For a person with special mobility needs, closing the internet bank may mean a situation where they can no longer use their money as they cannot go to a bank branch. Thus, initiating enforcement proceedings in respect of a person with challenged mobility may mean leaving the person without money.

People with special needs for whom writing or coming for a personal appointment is inconvenient can petition the Chancellor’s Office without any hindrance. Instead of written documents, a petition may be submitted by telephone, or also as an audio or video file. The Chancellor’s Office has also received the first video file in Estonian sign language.