How the media is demonising Disabled People in Europe

Extract from the article ‘How the media is demonising Disabled People in Europe’  by Debbie Jolly

‘Disabled people in Europe are losing their battle in the fight for disability rights. While some countries have problems making their governments understand that assistance is needed for the extra costs of disability for independent living, P.A.s, and self determination, in other parts of Europe unfair financial cuts to disability assistance and support are being backed up by a campaign in the media showing disabled people as unworthy of the support they receive. The media do this by calling disabled people frauds.

This is happening at a time when states in Europe are looking for savings in their budgets. In the UK such media stories are being wrongly supported by government ministers who often add a quote saying how shocked they are that so many disabled people are fraudulent, but all are contributing to a myth that is having severe negative implications on disabled peoples’ lives.’

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ENIL Hearing on Cuts at the European Parliament

Save the Date!

9 February 2012, European Parliament


On 9 February 2012 ENIL is holding a hearing at the European Parliament entitled ‘Defend the Right of Independent Living – How the EU’s Austerity Policy Is Undermining the Lives of People with Disabilities’. The hearing is hosted by the European United Left / Nordic Green Left Parliamentary Group.


ENIL and its partner organisations will use the hearing to present evidence about the impact austerity measures are having on people with disabilities in the EU, and will set out actions that can be taken by the European Parliament and the European Commission to address this situation. These will include the ENIL Proposal for the European Parliament Resolution on the effect of cuts in public spending on persons with disabilities in the EU.


The hearing will take place on 9 February, 15:00 – 18:30, at the European Parliament inBrussels. Programme will be available by the 15 January 2012. To register, please write to the ENIL Secretariat at (please include your nationality, date of birth and passport/ID number, so we can arrange your access into the Parliament). Unfortunately, ENIL cannot cover participants’ travel or accommodation costs.


Read the ENIL Proposal

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Recent reports


ENIL would like to raise awareness on the work and publications of ESSL. The Essl Family have been involved in social affairs for many years. The Essl Foundation was established in 2007 in order to consolidate the family’s social activities with the mission to remove barriers, especially for disadvantaged persons, and to work for a more just and equal society.
The Zero Project is a project of the Essl Foundation. It allows for a new approach to broad-based advocacy and the work to remove barriers. In 2010 the Essl Social published its Index Pilot Study. This was based on a survey done in cooperation with some 56 NGO organisations around the world on the legal situations and living conditions of persons with disabilities a comparison of social indicators in 15 different countries. The clear appraisal of inequalities and injustices has been found to be an efficient method of advocacy and a way to get the media as well as policymakers interested.

The most recent report can be found on the following website:

ENIL would also like to draw attention to a new guide for the monitoring process of the CRPD.

The guide was developed as part of a project of the Mental Health Initiative and the Law and Health Initiative of the Open Society Public Health Program. The Community for All guide and checklist offers a detailed look at the rights identified in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), especially Article 19 of the CRPD. The guide and checklist can be used in advocacy work to oblige States to realize the rights. For downloading and more information see the website:

The first World report on disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, ” suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability.
People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. The report provides the best available evidence about what works to overcome barriers to health care, rehabilitation, education, employment, and support services, and to create the environments which will enable people with disabilities to flourish. The report ends with a concrete set of recommended actions for governments and their partners.
This pioneering World report on disability will make a significant contribution to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the intersection of public health, human rights and development, the report is set to become a “must have” resource for policy-makers, service providers, professionals, and advocates for people with disabilities and their families.”

Jim Mansell Recognised for Outstanding Contribution to Social Care

Jim Mansell, Emeritus Professor of Learning Disability at the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent, and a member of the Advisory Council of the European Coalition for Community Living (ECCL), was awarded the SCIE Knowledge Award for Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge in Social Care for 2011.


The UK’s Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) used its Tenth Anniversary celebration in November to recognise Prof. Mansell’s contribution to knowledge in social care and the impact his work has had on improving the quality of social care provision.


ENIL would like to congratulate Jim on winning this important award!


Further information:

NNDR launched a new webpage and a blog


Nordic Network on Disability Research new website

NNDR is a multidisciplinary network of disability researchers. The purpose of NNDR is to advance research and development in the field of disability. The main meeting place for the network is the biennial NNDR conference.

In order to increase the activity between our conferences, the NNDR launched a new webpage and a blog in October of this year. The intention is to have another forum to present and discuss disability issues. All members are invited to follow the blog written by varying authors, and post comments. It is also possible to get updates on the blog sent by RSS feed.


ENIL is active in the FRA

ENIL is active in the FRA (The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) and supports the research the FRA is conducting. The FRA launched a report on ‘The legal protection of persons with mental health problems under non-discrimination law’ in October.


The publication analysed how national and international non-discrimination legislation and case law defines “disability” and the consequences of this for the “duty to provide reasonable accommodation” for people with disabilities in employment.


The findings of the comparative legal research showed that people with mental health problems in the EU can benefit from the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of disability under EU law.


The research also looked at the duty to provide reasonable accommodation in employment for people with mental health problems. This means, for example, that an employer should consider the needs of employees to enable them to work, such as adapting working hours or some conditions. According to the report, in most EU Member States people with mental health problems can benefit from such “reasonable accommodation” measures at work. Furthermore, some EU Member States are extending these rights to other areas of daily life, such as education and the provision of goods and services, in line with international standards, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Such countries includeBelgium,Bulgaria, theCzech Republic,Ireland, theNetherlands,Spainand theUnited Kingdom.


The FRA recommended that other Member States consider the examples given providing even more comprehensive protection.


The FRA is looking at conducting research on the actual experiences of people with mental health problems and people with intellectual disabilities. The results of this research will be made available in 2012. You can find out more about the FRA disability research on the FRA website.


Please find the link to the report mentionned above and web statement:

Common European Guidelines on De-institutionalisation

Through its project the European Coalition for Community Living, ENIL is a member of the Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG). The Group, established in 2009 at the initiative of the then Commissioner Spidla, has already produced the Report of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (2009).


In order to assist Member States and the European Commission in implementing this Report, the Group decided to draft the Common European Guidelines on De-institutionalisation and the Toolkit on using Structural Funds (and other funding instruments) to support the process of de-institutionalisation. Both publications, as well as an accompanying Training Module are due to be published by September 2012.


Three mutual learning events in three EU countries, as well as two training sessions, will also be organised in the course of the project, in order to present and test all the publications. EEG will be consulting closely with member organisations of the different networks represented in the Group throughout the process.


The publications will encompass children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems and the elderly, and will be produced in partnership of all EEG members: ENIL/ECCL, the European Disability Forum, the Mental Health Europe, Inclusion Europe, the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities, Lumos, the European Social Network, the Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU, and UNICEF.

INNOSERV research project for innovative social services

ENIL is proud to be a member of the INNOSERV consortium starting its work in February 2012. A short description of the project follows:

Other members of the consortium are:
• Diakonhjemmet University College, Oslo, Norway
• University of Roskilde, Denmark
• Diakoniewissenschaftliches Institut, Heidelberg University, Germany
• Universite Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris, France
• Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
• Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, Hamburg, Germany
• Centre for Social Investement, Heidelberg University, Germany
• Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale, Area Politiche della Formazione e del Lavoro, Bologna, Italy
• Eötvös University, Budapest, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Budapest, Hungary
• European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Brussels, Belgium


DREAM – Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets

DREAM Project

ENIL is an Associated Partner in the EU funded project DREAM – Disability Rights Expanding Accessibly Markets, led by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway. During the 3-year project, ENIL will host two early stage researchers (ESRs) – Ciara Brennan and Orla Kelly – based at the University of Iceland. Ciara is focusing on the Right to Independent Living and the development of user-led personal assistance, and Orla will be doing research on ways to advance de-institutionalisation and community living. Both researchers are expected to join ENIL for up to three months in 2012.


The aim of DREAM, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, is to train the next generation of disability policy entrepreneurs to help drive and sustain the process of positive change across Europe.

The research agenda was crafted to produce tangible recommendations for reform both at EU level and in the Member States and to impart policy entrepreneurship skills to the researchers so that they themselves can become positive agents of change in their future careers.

The research agenda aims to contribute to the goals of EU 2020 in creating a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy of direct benefit to persons with disabilities. It also aims to contribute knowledge, insights and practical recommendations to the implementation of the new EU Disability Strategy (2010-2020) which seeks practical ways to ensure thatEurope’s 80 million persons with disabilities can enjoy all the rights of European citizenship. The research undertaken will also contribute to the ongoing process of finding ways of giving practical expression to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at EU level and in the Member States.

The project is implemented in partnership with the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Technosite (Spain), Maastricht University (Netherlands), University of Leeds (UK), NOVA Norwegian Social Research, the University of Iceland and Swiss Paraplegic Research.

Project website:

Fundamental Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Persons with Mental Health Problems

John Evans, a member of the Advisory Board of ENIL, is representing ENIL and its project ECCL (the European Coalition for Community Living) in the project ‘Fundamental Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Persons with Mental Health Problems’, launched by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in 2009 and finishing in 2012.


The project aims to better understand how the fundamental rights of persons with mental health problems and persons with intellectual disabilities are safeguarded in the EU and where violations of rights occur.


The project consists of legal and social research.


The focus of legal research is on the national and international legal framework, and it is implemented by FRA’s Network of Legal Experts (FRALEX). The first report to come out of this is ‘The Rights of People with Mental Health Problems and Intellectual Disabilities to Take Part in Politics’. (more…)

Active Citizenship & Disability – Toward a 21st Century – Model of Supports for Persons With Disabilities

National University of Ireland Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy

That was the title of the conference presenting the coming book on modern disability services to which ENIL has contributed this year. The book has been written by Dr Andrew Power a former member of the research staff at the National University of Ireland Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy ( and will be published in 2012. The book is an international comparison of the relative reform in support delivery models for people with disability. ENIL contributed to the chapters on Sweden and France. The other chapters will cover Canada, USA, UK and Ireland.


The coming book addresses the issue of a personalisation of supports as a current worldwide trend favouring the meeting of real individual needs as opposed to assumed needs. The new trend is opening up choice in personal living arrangements, being used as a basis for the redesigning of supports enabling active citizenship communities. New language is replacing the language of needs and services with concepts of active citizenship. There is a move from traditional models of support based on group services with limited choice towards giving people more choice and control over the support required to live independently and participate in the community. In terms of what is required for change in this way, there is the need for a wholesale rethink of the nature and operation of the welfare state entailing a more individualised approach to the design of services. This entails more consumer power and choice. In order to achieve this, market forces need to be harnessed.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities powerfully reinforces the current trends. Article 12 restores voice and power to the individual including voice and power over how services are designed and delivered and Article19 demands that services be closely tied to the achievement of choice and independence as well as community involvement.


The conference in November introducing the book provided a meeting point between theorists who bring important perspectives from the new UN disability convention, policy makers interested in redesigning service delivery models, service providers interested in re-imagining their services in the decades to come and persons with disabilities anxious to ensure that future services are adequate to ensure their right to live independent lives and be included in the community.

Role model: Meet Suvad Zahirović from Bosnia

My name is Suvad Zahirović. I was born in Brcko,Bosnia and Herzegovina on 31st May 1962. I am blind since birth. I  graduated at Faculty for political sciences, at Belgrade University in 1989.  I am living  in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with my wife and daughter.

  • What is your personal experience of disability?

In my childhood, my mother and my sisters always treated me as an equal in a way that they had  their expectations from me and in accordance to that they would have  given to me certain tasks and required fulfillment of those tasks, always having in mind my real abilities and limitations which blindness as type of disability imposes to me. That kind of attitude towards me from my closest family members helped me to feel confident in myself and to feel that I am able to do many things independently, to get a picture about different things and to learn how to establish and to maintain contacts with other people. (more…)

Conference: Implementing the rights of persons with disabilities

The Essl Foundation, the World Future Council and Bank Austria are working together to organize an International Conference on January 22-23, 2012, Vienna, Austria on future just policies which successfully implement the rights of people with disabilities.


Download brochure (PDF) (TEXT ONLY)



The Essl Foundation, the World Future Council would like to get in touch with policy makers, international academic institutions and practitioners, NGOs and foundations to cooperate in the planning process of the event.


Ingrid Heindorf

Policy Officer

World Future Council

22297 Hamburg,Germany

Phone +49 40307091419


Dr. Michael Fembek

Program Manager

Essl Foundation

3400 Klosterneuburg,Austria

Phone +43 22434209149


Independent Living Fund (ILF) in the UK: DPAC Signature campaign

To add your signature please email, or 


‘DPAC Independent Living Fund letter

Thousands of disabled people rely on funding from the Independent Living Fund to enable them to live independently with choice and control over their lives. ILF users have been left shocked and extremely anxious since it was announced in 2010 that it would be closed down by government in 2015. Already closed to new applicants since May 2010 this decision was taken with no evidence of an equality impact assessment having taken place nor any consultation carried out with current and potential beneficiaries of the fund.

 “The Independent Living Fund is a ring fenced resource, for a priority group of disabled people with high support needs that can provide a better lifestyle and outcomes for service users whose full needs would not be met by local authority funding. “


Personal Assistance as a condition of freedom

When we were at the beginning of our struggle for our right to personal assistance and we started looking for role models we began by reading up on the history of the independent living movement. We were very surprised to find out how similar the struggle these pioneers faced was to our humble beginnings. The only difference was that 30 years had passed since their effort had been embarked upon and that socio-economical situation and historical and cultural contexts are now vastly different.

Not only did we have to fight for our right to independent living outside of institutions and to close those institutions down, we were also forced to fight against the experts who would not let us go out of their clinch of treatment. For them, medical model was the ultimate solution and the safest way of maintaining and supporting their illusion of professionalism. We also had to convince politicians that we wanted to live, not merely passively languish, dragging ourselves through life. It was difficult to hammer into their heads why we did not want to live in institutions that they built just for us, so that people can provide care for us and that we are safe from the outside environment. Last but not least, we slowly worked our way to make the public aware that we are nothing special, we don’t demand nothing special and that we just want to live normal lives with all the rights and responsibilities that other people have and that we indeed can take responsibility for our decisions, even though they may seem wrong to them. We are addressing these events in past tense, but the truth is, these issues are still as current today as they were then.  (more…)

YHD: On the remembrance of the 3rd of December has been 20 years since the first attempts to implement Independent Living in Slovenia and 15 years since the foundation of YHD – Association for theory and culture of handicap, which is the only organization providing for independent living and personal assistance according to internationally accepted principles and the principles of the European Network on Independent Living, ENIL.

Unfortunately, the Law on Personal assistance has still not been accepted and many rights remain unsolved. Instead of adopting such a law on personal assistance, where the right to live independently binds to the individual needs and with that to enabling empowerment of persons with disabilities in all spheres of social life, we are still tied to the implementation of the program which is still uncertain. At the same time even little progress quickly dies away and rather than trying to build on good practices and programs in the community, we are returning to institutionalization, loss of power of individuals and to strengthen these and other elites – unfortunately also disability elites. As one of the initiators of changes in the funding of disability and humanitarian organizations by foundations FIHO we look forward to the adopted amendments to the Law on changes in ownership of the Lottery of Slovenia, which would enable a more transparent and equitable distribution of funds. But these days we are confronted with the initiative of collecting signatures for a referendum, which traditional disability organizations try to gather by deceiving and lies, with the aim to maintain the existing strength of some traditional disability organizations.


15 years of independent living initiatives in Serbia

CIL Serbia LogoCIL Serbia from its foundation has been working on providing the condition for PA service establishing and development.

The result of the 2-year pilot project from 2003 and 2005 and local advocacy activists is that 4 municipalities (Sombor, Smederevo, Jagodina and Leskovac) recognized the importance of the service and allocate the funds for it.

The 15 year work on capacity building, awareness raising on SPA importance and necessity and pre-condition providing for IL in Serbia resulted with the recognition of the issue by the Law against the Discrimination of PwDs, national strategy of improving the position of PwDs, Law of the professional rehabilitation and employment, and finally, the Low for the Social protection, that defines IL and services that enable IL in the community with its basic standards and conditions for potential service providers. The CIL Serbia was one of the initiators of these processes and actively participated in the laws and strategy drafting and its public presentation and debating. (more…)

Independent Living Scotland addresses its Parliament

Disabled people need the kind of welfare state which is not a mere ‘safety net’ but which invests in tackling disabling barriers and in providing resources to meet the additional costs related to impairment.

Read the complete document here

Independent Living Classics: the 2007 Barcelona speech by Dr Ratzka

If we speak about inspirational leaders in the Independent living movement we quickly come to Dr Adolf Ratzka. In 2007 he spoke in Barcelona on the dependency culture towards people with disabilities and how to break it. The title of his speech was: “Independent Living for people with disabilities: from patient to citizen and customer”. Read and enjoy!

Download the keynote at the conference in Barcelona 22 October 2007: Independent Living for people with disabilities: from patient to citizen and customer

John Evans from ENIL speaks to Europe about the devastating effect of the cuts

One of the greatest experts on Independent Living, John Evans, uses every opportunity to warn people with disabilities, policymakers and other stakeholders about the effects of the cuts in public spending that are going on. In many European countries governments take inhuman, irrational and contra productive decisions to cut budgets that are necessary to make Independent Living possible for people with disabilities.

John Evans was interviewed on this important topic by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. He also delivered a strong speech on the European Day of People with Disabilities on December 1stin Brussels. (Link in FRA website)

Download the full speech: The impact of the austerity measures on disabled people in Europe

Video: John Evans from the ENIL speaks to the FRA about the economic crisis, during a recent meeting of the FRA’s disability project