Our first webinar this year – about the history of the Independent Living (IL) movement took place on 2nd March with 19 participants from 14 countries. We had diverse participation, with interpreters, engineers, social economists, managers among the attendees, which made the session interesting and fun.
Jamie Bolling, the Executive Director of ENIL, introduced the roots of Independent Living and some of the pioneers – Ed Roberts and Judith Heumann, who were among those who started the movement in the USA. Adolf Ratzka, Bente Skansgård, Kapka Panayotova, Martin Naughton and John Evans were also introduced as being among those who brought Independent Living to Europe and their own countries.
Some of what Independent Living pioneers share is their conviction and experience of disability. Through peer support, they have empowered others with disability and disabled people’s organisations to lobby for Independent Living legislation and good practice. In order to allow for choice, control, participation and inclusion, disabled people started pilot projects and showed how direct payments worked – ensuring payments for personal assistance.
Finally, Tove Brandvik, an ENIL Board member from ULOBA, shared information about the recent thematic study on the rights of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community, produced by the UN OHCHR.
One of the webinar participants suggested that a future webinar should focus on sharing experience from various countries. ENIL thinks this is a great idea, so please watch for the announcement on our website, in case you would like to share the experience of your country during one of our next online events.
Photo: Ed Roberts, one of the founders of the Independent Living movement