Strasbourg Study Session: Recommendations to National Governments

Strasbourg Study Session: Recommendations to National Governments

These recommendations were drafted by the participants of the Study Session “Supporting Young Disabled People to Become Future Leaders of the Independent Living Movement” held at the European Youth Centre Strasbourg between 21 and 28 October 2012. The activity was organised by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) in co-operation with the Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation, Youth Department of the Council of Europe.

 

Changing perceptions and attitudes towards young people with Disabilities by society.

When sharing the experiences from our lives this week we realised that through communities we can raise the awareness of disability issues. Through positive role models of disabled people we can promote the benefits of Independent Living to disabled and non-disabled people. Through educational workshops, we believe that we can raise awareness of the situations which affect all minority groups (for example: black and ethnic minorities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and disabled people).

Therefore, Governments are recommended to:

  • Fund local disability groups to run their own campaigns about independent living in their communities. The impact of these campaigns should be monitored by independent disabled people.
  • Put pressure on learning and training environments to include positive representations of disabled people in order to change people’s perceptions.
  • Workshops on the situations which affect all minority groups should be part of the school programme; this is to ensure the inclusion of all the issues affecting these minority groups and acknowledging multiple identities people have, as a means for combating segregation.

Education

During this meeting we realised that, although we had access support at different points in our educational career, we finished our education due to our own determination and continual family support. As young people with disabilities coming from all over Europe we observed that we are the exception instead of the rule when it comes to successfully completing higher education. Better continuous accessibility support, which is streamlined between institutions and stages in the education process, is important to ensure the success of disabled learners.

Therefore, Governments are recommended to:

  • Facilitate continuous access to education for disabled young people in Europe. Our definition of ‘Access’ refers to physical access, human support (including sign language interpreters and palantypist), technical aids and accessible curriculum that reflects different learning styles.
  • Training of teachers to meet disabled students access needs.
  • Improving the technical support and issuing departments in educational establishments to have responsibility for informing disabled students of the support available. This department should employ experienced disabled students to support its work and distribute information about its services.
  • Governments need to allocate specific funds within education budgets to support the needs of students with disabilities.
  • Mainstream schools need to become fully inclusive of all disabled students so that special schools are no longer needed. Special schools and institutional education settings should be turned into resource centres to support disabled young people’s inclusion in all aspects of their lives.

Transition to employment

During the past year we have experienced that those of us which have completed our academic study and are actively seeking for jobs, had to wait much longer than most of our non-disabled colleagues to enter the open labor market. We were not provided with the needed peer support and career counselling which would facilitate our job seeking process. We need to give our voice to young peers who also faced similar challenges and underline the importance of a smooth transition of persons with disabilities from education to employment.

In order to ensure the inclusion of young women and men with disabilities in the open labor market, we would urge MEPs to communicate that:

  • Governments should guarantee schools, universities, NGOs, career centres and other agencies that promote employability of youth have the information and resources to see the abilities of persons with disabilities to meet the standard of job requirements for meaningful work;
  • Governments should support NGOs to implement peer counselling and mentorship programmes in the job seeking process for people with disabilities;
  • Governments should ensure that EU policies promoting employability of youth are for everyone including young women and men with disabilities

Institutions and Independent Living

More than 200,000 disabled people live in closed institutions. 1 in 2 disabled people in Europe have no access to any leisure or vital public facilities (40 million people). As young people we do not want to see this continue and become a reality for our generation. When we discussed these issues it reasserted the importance of promoting independent living.

Therefore, we recommend governments to:

  • Not spend more money on institutions.
  • Include conditions to any funds related to disability and institutions given to member states of the Council of Europe and the European Union, specifically:NO new institutions should be built at all from the money of the grant being approved.
  • That member states can only spend the disability element of the money on the following:
  • Improving accessibility for the disabled residents and visitors of that Council of Europe and European Union member states
  • Training provided for professionals and support staff who are involved with individuals with disabilities
  • Enhancing the provision of employment within the disabled community
  • Raising the profile and awareness of the disabled community
  • Provide structures which support independent living

In annex 1 you can find additional information on deinstitutionalisation, its benefits and the ground for making it an obligation of society to ensure its realisation.

We thank you for taking our opinions in consideration and are available for questions and comments.

Ryan, Karin, Sidney, Peter, Alexandra, Bethany, Raluca, Dilyana, Zara, Embla, Miro, Danči, Milica, Agnes, Gatis, Iain, Stelios, Mirela, and Sofiya

Email: enilstudysession2012@gmail.com

Annex 1

Deinstitutionalisation

See analysis gathered by Kent University on the cost effectiveness of Independent Living when compared to institutional based care.

If existing institutional care is relatively less expensive, decision-makers can expect that transfer of the less disabled residents to good services in the community will be achieved at the same or lower costs and at the same or higher quality; cost-effectiveness in the community will be the same or better. More disabled residents in less expensive institutions will cost more in good community services but the quality will be higher and so cost-effectiveness in the community will be the same or better (and decision- makers should not assume that they can keep institutional costs low).

 

Cost effectiveness to state services

After transition to Independent Living

Lower grade institution

Costs

Quality

Cost-effectiveness

Less disabled individual

Same or Lower

Same or Higher

Same or Better

More disabled individual

Higher

Higher

Same or Better

Higher grade institution

Less disabled individual

Lower

Higher

Better

More disabled individual

Same or Lower

Higher

Better

 

In more expensive institutions, decision-makers can expect that transfer of the less disabled residents to good services in the community will be achieved at lower costs and at the same or higher quality; cost-effectiveness in the community will therefore be better. More disabled residents in more expensive institutions will cost the same in good community services but the quality will be higher and so cost-effectiveness in the community will be better.

In conclusion, this is fundamentally a breach of most institutionalized disabled people human rights. Most notably Article 5 of the ECHR and Article 8, but most crucially Article 3 which is non-derogable and places an obligation on states to ensure freedom from torture which is clear still happening in most of these facilities.

 

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