Interview with Adolf Ratzka from the Independent Living Institute

Our series of interviews continues with Adolf Ratzka.
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Adolf lives in Sweden and has been founding chair for ENIL from 1998 to 1992. He is  a founder and board member of the Independent Living Institute and also a Personal Assistance user.

 

How long have you been involved with the Independent Living  Movement and
with ENIL in particular?

Since 1973

Please tell us something about your organisation…
The Independent Living Institute www.independentliving.org considers itself
a policy development center for influencing national policies towards more
self-determination for disabled people.

How do you see the development of the Independent Living Movement in the
last 10 years in your country and in Europe?

Too slow

How do you manage your personal assistance? How is it funded?
Some of my assistants are employed by STIL , the assistance user cooperative
I started. My other assistants are employed by the Independent Living
Institute. I have delegated some administrative tasks to the two bodies but
recruit, train, supervise etc my assistants myself. I pay for my assistance
with money from the Swedish social security system. Currently 14,000 persons
with extensive disabilities are legally entitled to payments for personal
assistance. Payments are not means-tested and depend solely on needs.

Have you experienced different approaches on personal assistance in other
countries?

Yes. It seems that parental homes or institutions are still the most common
solutions to our needs in Europe. In many countries some sort of community
based services exist that are insufficient both in quantity and in quality
to enable the user to live independently. In a few countries schemes are in
place that entitle the user to payments for personal assistance. These
systems, however, are still unsatisfactory in that amounts do not pay for a
sufficient number of hours and do not support competitive wages for
assistants. Also, it is often assumed that user are the employers of their
assistants with the financial risk and paperwork that being an employer
implies. In addition, most of the schemes I have seen require you to first
exhaust your own or your extended families financial resources until you are
entitled to the payments. Ironically, the same countries do not hesitate to
financially support residential institutions at considerably higher
payments. My conclusion is that we have a long way to go until our lobby is
as strong as the lobby of residential institutions.  

What are your wishes for the future regarding independent living and
personal assistance?

We need a new generation of angry people with disabilities, people who not
only want their fair share but are also willing to fight for it.

You can read interviews with current ENIL board members in the "About ENIL" section by clicking on the names marked in red: http://enil.eu/enil/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=11&Itemid=84

 

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