ENIL’s visit to Belarus: “What is IL and why is it needed?”

Independence Square from the Minsk Hotel

The Office for the Rights of Persons with a Disability (ORPD) in Minsk invited ENIL’s executive director Jamie Bolling to Belarus. The visit took place between 25th and 29th February 2012. The theme for the visit was “What is Independent Living and why is it needed?” The message was communicated through several gatherings bringing together disability organisations and other stakeholders.

On Sunday 26th of February 2012, a round table discussion took place on Enabling Independent Living through Accessibility in Belarus. About 20 people attended from six different organisations. The meeting was an opportunity to share experiences about what is happening in Belarus as well as in other European countries. A number of parent organisations were presented with questions about personal assistance as well as collective living. Before the round table Bolling met with the leaders from the Office for the Rights of Persons with a Disability to explore opportunities for future collaboration between the two organisations. (more…)

Protest in Germany

Every year around the 5th May, the European day of protest for equal rights for people with disabilities, there are many actions and initiatives of disability organizations in many parts of Germany.

On 10 May 2011 more than 1,000 people with and without disabilities met for a demonstration with the motto “bailout/parachutes for all!” going from the Brandenburg Gate to the Federal Chancellery. Many disability organizations supported the action.

The bailout has grown significantly since then. Nevertheless, it is not available for people with disabilities – in Germany and other European states. On the contrary. Instead of a prompt and full implementation of the UN Convention, the needs of people with disabilities are increasingly being cut due to “austerity measures”.

Therefore, disability organizations call for a the next European protest in 2012, again with the motto “Parachutes/bailouts for all!” on 27 April 2012 from the Federal Chancellery to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.



ENIL on the Joint Committee on Human Rights Report on Independent Living and UNCRDP

Rights of disabled people may be at risk, says Human Rights Committee 

The disability movement/Independent Living movement of the UK is very pleased about the outcome of this report. It was exactly what we needed after almost two years of challenging the government on how the cuts and austerity measures were affecting disabled people’s ability to live independently.

The report is highly critical of the government’s measures in cutting back services, and the ILF (Independent Living Fund) which is putting disabled people at severe risk for the future.

This is by far the most comprehensive critique of an EU Member State policies which are affecting disabled people severely. No other governmental level report has come out in Europe highlighting the impact the austerity measures are having on Independent Living. This report can be very useful for the Independent Living movement throughout Europe in challenging their current austerity policies.

The question is whether the UK government will take this seriously or just ignore it. (more…)

Spotlight: Hearing in the European Parliament: “Defend the Right of Independent Living – How the EU’s austerity policy is undermining the lives of people with disabilities.”

On the 9th February 2012 ENIL and the European parliamentary group GUE/NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left) held a hearing in the European Parliament. The purpose of this hearing was to show from a number of perspectives how people with disabilities are being negatively affected by the EU current austerity policies. This is the first time that ENIL has held a hearing in the European Parliament. ENIL presented its ‘Proposal for a European Parliament Resolution’ on the effect of the cuts. The hearing was received positively in the European Parliament and three Members of the Parliament participated in the hearing, Kartika Liotard, MEP, Netherlands, Cecilia Wikstrom, MEP, Sweden and Paul Murphy, MEP, Ireland. The hearing was streamed live and there was up to two hundred people watching online throughout the hearing, with approximately eighty people in the Parliament itself.

The hearing began on a optimistic tone with MEP Cecilia Wikstrom’s opening address in which she made it clear that the although the financial climate is affecting every faction of society that hope is necessary at this time.

Panel 1: Understanding the impact of austerity measures on persons with disabilities

The hearing was in two parts with two different panels. Understanding the impact of the austerity measures on persons with disabilities was the focus of the first panel. Throughout this first panel, four themes emerged; (a) disability and policy, (b) de-institutionalisation, (c) disability and the media and (d) individual accounts that were shared.

(a)   Disability and Policy: Since the financial crisis there has been an impact on the way in which policy has been implemented, interpreted and devised. One of the most important issues raised by Prof. Alan Roulstone (Expert on global and European disability policy)  was that short term cuts often ignore the long term benefits. These policy decisions do not just have economical effect, but social and political effects. John Evans OBE ( Advisory Board member of ENIL)  noted that throughout this financial crisis, it is the welfare systems that have been hit hardest and further reductions would increase poverty. He pointed out that many of these cuts have been made without any dialogue between governments and those whose benefits they are cutting. John Evans further argued, Independent Living has positively changed people’s lives, however some people are now struggling to survive. (more…)

Disability watchdog: Update on current events in Hungary

“We would like to make you aware of current concerns that disabled people in Hungary are faced with. Recently the Hungarian Government changed the whole disability pension system, which will be a lot worse than the previous system especially for disabled people. The biggest changes are connected to the rights that arise from the pension system. According to the new system the 1st and 2nd disability groups will remain unchanged, but persons belonging to the 3rd group will be reviewed and according to the decision of the reviewing committee some of them will no longer receive the pension as they did according to the old system. Those who fall out of the 3rd disability group under this new system will be obliged to take part in a rehabilitation programme at the end of which it is intended that they find employment in the labour market. However considering the current situation even non-disabled well-trained persons with university degrees can’t find employment as at the present time in Hungary it is almost impossible to find employment, similar to what is happening in the rest of Europe.


In addition to that there has also been the introduction of new regulations for people with serious physical disabilities obtaining a new car. These regulations effectively mean that the individuals who the car is for will not be able to use it themselves because it will only be possible to get small cars that are not big enough to take wheelchairs. Furthermore the cars will not be adapted or automatic and the monthly rate to obtain a car is very high.


In the case of obtaining a used car (second hand car), the amount of co-financing was raised to 2000 EUR, however this amount must represent at least 60% of the full price with the other 40% paid by the applicant.


Changes in repairing (servicing) of technical devices have also been introduced together with the new disability pension system. According to this new system for example:

For repairing a wheelchair, the travel costs for the mechanic to get to the person and the wheelchair that needs to be repaired, will have to be paid by the user as the Health Insurance system will no longer cover such expenses. In practice this new system will mean that if someone has a scooter financed by the Health Insurance Company, that person will not be able to claim for a wheelchair from the Health Insurance Company; although for many of us this is necessary in addition to a scooter to maintain our independent living.”

Save the date: Online seminars on the UNCRPD

The Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are holding a series of free online seminars about how the UN Disability Convention relates to what disabled people have told the Commission’s are the main barriers remaining to allow disabled people in Scotland to enjoy the full range of rights to which they are entitled. The first of these took place in December and you can watch or listen to a recording of the seminar.


The next seminar will take place on Monday 16 January and will discuss ‘Getting Justice’. The guest speaker will be from the Legal Services Agency and the seminar will cover some of the evidence disabled people have already told the Commission’s about access to justice – such as concerns from learning disabled people about using and accessing the court system, fears about reporting harassment and alternatives to court action – then the seminar will outline what the Convention says about access to justice and about how the Convention could be used in Scotland. During the discussion you can ask questions, suggest action that needs to be taken and share your own experiences. (more…)

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 secretariat@enil.eu (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

DOC Format

PDF Format


Link to a related article: http://www.euractiv.com/socialeurope/europeans-disabilities-terrified-analysis-509471

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: http://www.zeroproject.org/

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.”


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

The Swedish crisis

The Independent Living movement in Sweden has a long history of demonstrations. Now it’s time to take on the placards again and rescue assistance!

Country after country uses the economic crisis to cut the funding of reforms of personal assistance. In Sweden the savings proposals is threatening the world’s best personal assistance legislation.

Due to recent figures from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (who is responsible for all matters of personal assistance in Sweden) about five percent of the assistance users now are losing their personal assistance after their needs have been reviewed. They are no longer considered to have at least 20 hours of basic needs per week*, often because they are able to bring the spoon or fork to their mouth (not necessarily with food on).

The Social Insurance Agency has also pioneered the use of the term “active” time. This means that if you have need of assistance a few minutes now and again but manage yourselves in between, you are only granted assistance specifically for the active time.
Even people with more complex needs have had drastic cuts in their assistance. There are members in JAG who have lost their assistance hours at night despite the needs being uniformed, for example persons with epilepsy who are unable to alert in need of assistance.
The Social Insurance Agency is also trying to make the application of assistance benefit more “unified” by, among other things, define what specific activities and situations that should be considered as part of daily life. The Swedish Independent Living movement is of course questioning on what grounds the Social Insurance Agency considers it’s their mandate to define the law. It is totally against the intentions of the assistance legislation to deny someone support by reference to a norm! (more…)

ENIL Conference in the University of Valencia (Spain)


university-of-valenciaLast 18th  november 2011, there was a conference under the title “Independent Living, a Life Empowerment Strategy”, it took place in the Social Education Faculty of the Valencia University.

The speakers were the ENIL collaborators Katjia Villatoro, José Alfonso López and Juan Benages.

The conference sparked off big interest and the audience was implicated, beyond the academic interest. The issues treated were from the history of the independent living movement to the UN convention on the rights of people with disability. The final conclusión was that IL means equity, but at the same time it’s a viable economical model, a profitable driving force of social productivity, employment creation and socioeconomic growing. It provides a social investment system with a high rate of investment return for the public and private sector, as well gives everybody the opportunity  to choose his own way of living.

After that conference we had the opportunity to plan a future event for a full day duration workshop, under the idea of increasing the diffusion range of the IL philosophy.



Sterilization of Women and Girls with Disabilities: A Briefing Paper (November 2011)

In many parts of the world, women rely on access to a range of methods to control their fertility, including voluntary sterilisation. However, too often, sterilisation is not a choice. Women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to forced sterilisations performed under the auspices of legitimate medical care. The practice of forced sterilisation is part of a broader pattern of denial of the human rights of women and girls with disabilities. This denial also includes systematic exclusion from comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, limited voluntary contraceptive choices, a focus on menstrual suppression, poorly managed pregnancy and birth, involuntary abortion, and the denial of rights to parenting. These practices are framed within traditional social attitudes that characterize disability as a personal tragedy or a matter for medical management and rehabilitation. The difficulty some women with disabilities may have in understanding or communicating what was done to them increases their vulnerability to forced sterilisation. A further aggravating factor is the widespread practice of legal guardians or others making life-altering decisions for persons with disabilities, including consenting to sterilisation on their behalf.

This briefing paper has been jointly prepared by Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Open Society Foundations, and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) as part of the Global Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care. The paper gives a background to the issue of forced sterilisation, outlines various international human rights standards that prohibit forced sterilisation, and offers several recommendations for improving laws, policies, and professional guidelines governing sterilisation practices.

PDF format

Word format

The importance of the language

One of the ways we are discrminated is the way people talks about disabled people… Very good video.


The voters no one wants

If the political parties consider that the top politicians should mirror the electorate, people with disabilities represent the voters no one wants.

All political parties are aware that there has to be a certain correlation between their own representatives and the voters whom they want to attract. A party without a geographical balance at the top has for a long time equalled political suicide in Norwegian politics. The last decade’s gender balance has become equally important in almost all parties. But this also represents the end of this kind of awareness.
The Norwegian Labour party now defines itself as a party that celebrates equality because they have decided that “all posts, committees and appointments in the party shall have 50 percent representation of each sex”. This decision has had absolute consequence for the gender balance among government ministers, state secretaries and political advisers.
To claim that a country’s political leadership is “equal”, when 97,5 percent is white, heterosexual and non-disabled, may seem a bit odd. This represents a distinct underrepresentation of a number of minorities, as only about 75 percent of Norway’s population actually is white, heterosexual and non-disabled.


Good example: International Diploma in Mental Health Law and Human Rights 2011-2012


The World Health Organization and the Indian Law Society (ILS) Pune, India offers the International Diploma in Mental Health Law and Human Rights. In 2005 WHO published the Resource Book on Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislationto guide countries in amending and adopting human rights based mental health legislationfor the promotion and protection of rights of persons with mental disabilities. The aim of this course is to build the capacity of students to advocate for human rights and to influence national legislative and policy and service reform in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other key international human rights standards.

The Faculty of the course counts with key reserachers on disability of all over the world such as Professor Gerard Quinn from the Centre for Disability Law and Policy of the National University of Galway.

Brochure and flyer for the Diploma. More information about the Diploma is also available at: http://www.mentalhealthlaw.in/.

Applications can be submitted online at: http://www.mentalhealthlaw.in/content/online-application .

Good Example: Anizeto Calzeta and Ruedas a book by Guillermo Fresser

Drawing of Anizeto Calzeta

Anizeto Calzeta is not a regular detective, he solves everyday life mysteries and social issues and he has an exceptional assistant called Wheels (Ruedas).Wheels is the nickname of a 12 year old girl called Candela Mostos who happens to be amongst other things a wheelchair user.

The author shows with Wheels that a wheelchair doesn’t have to be a disadvantage and that it is only a different way to move around. He wants the reader to reflect about the fact that being a wheelchair user is just one aspect more of Candela but it shouldn’t be the only that pops in your mind when you think of her.Wheels skiing

In this first book, of what we hope will be a long detective saga, Anizeto and Wheels will try to solve “The mystery of the lonely ghosts”.