Good to Know

Barrier-free accessibility

Barrie­r-free accessibility is an approach that seeks to reduce or eliminate barriers. It covers the following dimensions:

  • Physi­cal accessibility to facilitate mobility

  • Accessible communication to facilitate communication with people with visual impairments, nonverbal persons, and people with language and/or reading difficulties

  • Intel­lectual accessibility to make information easy to understand for people with learning disabilities

  • Social accessibility to reduce prejudice, stereotypes, and other attitudes that prevent social inclusion

  • Economic accessibility to provide affordable access to services for strengthening inclusion, regardless of the individual’s financial means (e.g. personal assistance or sign language interpreters)

  • Insti­tu­tio­nal accessibility to reduce or eliminate structures of segregation in all contexts  of life, e.g. at schools or at the workplace

Cf. Austrian Deve­lop­ment Agency (2013): Menschen mit Behin­de­rungen. Inklu­sion als Menschen­recht und Auftrag, p. 4-5

Compensatory payments (Ausgleichstaxe)

Pursuant to § 9 of the Disabled Persons Employment Act (Behin­der­ten­ein­stel­lungs­ge­setz), the Sozialministeriumservice authority levies compensatory payments (Ausgleichstaxe) from employers who do not fulfill the required statutory quota for the employment of registered beneficiaries. The amount of the compensatory payments is calculated based on the size of the company or organization and on the number of registered beneficiaries that it is short of fulfilling its quota. Depending on the size of the company or organization, the amount ranges from € 253 and € 377 per month (2017 figures, cf. Sozi­al­mi­nis­te­ri­umser­vice). (See also: Registered beneficiary status)

Dimensions of diversity

The six main dimensions of diversity – age, disability, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (in alphabetical order), sometimes referred to as the “big 6” – are included in the EU’s non-discrimination directives and the national legislation derived from them. The individual categories are not always equally important in all contexts, and the ways in which they produce or reproduce difference or even inequality in organizations can vary. The categories gender, ethnicity / skin color, and sexual orientation are also referred to as structural categories because they are seen as important structural factors for creating and maintaining social inequality (cf. Bendl, R., Eber­herr, H. & Mensi-Klar­bach, H. (2012): Vertie­fende Betrach­tungen zu ausge­wählten Diver­si­täts­di­men­sionen. In: Bendl, R., Hanap­pi-Egger, E. & Hofmann, R. (eds.): Diver­sität und Diver­si­täts­ma­nage­ment, p. 79f).


Our concept of what disability means is constantly evolving. Today, disabilities are seen less and less as medical conditions or a matter of charity, but rather as a problem of legal and social marginalization. The social model of disability focuses on the interrelationship between health conditions and barriers. According to the social model, disabilities are created in the interaction between impaired individuals and society.

“People are disabled by society, not just by their bodies.”

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons 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 others.” (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Art. 1 and Preamble, item e).

In Austria, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force in 2008.

The Austrian Disabled Persons Employment Act (Behin­der­ten­ein­stel­lungs­ge­setz, BEinstG) defi­nes disability as follows:

“Within the meaning of this federal act, disability is defined as the effect of a non-temporary impairment of a person’s physical, mental, or psychological abilities or sensory functions which is likely to make it more difficult for the person to engage in gainful work activity. Impairments are considered non-temporary if they are expected to persist for more than six months.” (§ 3 of the BEinstG


Discrimination is defined as unjustified unequal treatment of certain (groups of) people, putting them at a disadvantage compared to others. The relevant legal regulations are based on this definition of discrimination. Discrimination is illegal in many areas, especially under European law.

Austrian federal and provincial legislation bans discrimination on the following grounds:

  • Sex

  • Ethnicity

  • Reli­gion and worldview

  • Disability

  • Sexu­al orien­tation

  • Age

The ban on discrimination applies to the areas employment and access to goods and services.

(cf. Klags­ver­band litigation association)


Diver­sity refers to the variety that different people bring to the table, the heterogeneity of their differences and similarities. We are convinced that this diversity offers great innovative and creative potential that we need to cultivate and put to use.

Identity card for disabled persons (Behindertenpass)

The Austrian identity card for disabled persons (Behin­der­ten­pass) is a photo ID card issued by the Sozialministeriumservice authority that is recognized as official confirmation of a disability in Austria. Holders of an identity card for disabled persons are entitled to various discounts on recreational activities, public transportation, and insurance policies. To be eligible for an identity card for disabled persons, you need a degree of disability or reduction of earning capacity (Minderung der Erwerbsfähigkeit) of at least 50%, and you must have your registered or habitual place of residence in Austria (cf. Sozi­al­mi­nis­te­ri­umser­vice, page in German).


Inclu­sion, in the sense of social inclusion, refers to the equal participation of all people in society. “Inclusion is not just a good idea, it’s a fundamental human right. Inclusion means that no one must be excluded or marginalized. As a human right, inclusion is directly linked to the right to freedom, equality, and solidarity. In this sense, inclusion is not only an individual right, but also a key principle. If this principle is not put into practice, the implementation of human rights remains incomplete.” (German Institute for Human Rights, 2017)

Social categories

Social categories are “normative social structures that categorize people into different groups and, in doing so, lead people to believe that homogeneous groups exist.” (Bendl, R., Hanap­pi-Egger E., & Hofmann R. (eds.). (2012): Diver­sität und Diver­si­täts­ma­nage­ment, p. 358)