Hello everyone, my name is Michael Goossens and I am the new Human Rights Officer at ENIL. I am happy to be part of the team, which has welcomed me and is helping me to integrate well and have the best tools to work and advance the fight for Independent living across Europe and beyond.

As a graduate in International Relations, I am concerned about the respect and application of human rights. I have always abhorred injustice and have therefore always been keen to support wherever I was needed.

I believe my strength lies in my versatility. I like to use different channels of expression to get messages across: whether it is through the creation of audiovisual content (photos, videos, images) or even texts of all kinds (narrative, sociological study, human rights). I love people, I love what we can get from little interactions and I am a big supporter of the idea that everyone’s voice counts. Within ENIL, I really want to be able to put all my skills at work and get the best out of it.

I consider that, I too, have things to bring to the table. However, not being disabled myself, I am aware that I don’t have the same relationship to disability and all that it implies and that’s why I’m trying to listen a lot at the moment. Find out and try to understand as much as possible the opinion, the needs and the expectations of all disabled people. For example, I know I have a lot to learn when it comes to accessibility and making my work available to all, as far as possible.

My relationship to disability is rather indirect. I grew up with a blind father and several members of my family are visually impaired or blind. I knew my father was blind although it took me some time to ‘question’ his disability, what it means and put it in perspective. Of course, it’s not the first thing I think of when I think about my father. I didn’t feel like I had a different childhood from everybody else but it’s mostly through other people’s eyes and words that I would see his blindness and maybe his ‘difference’.

I would say I have an idea of the social system that is restrictive for a disabled person but I still have to get familiar with everything about accessibility for example. I believe it is a process and I am willing to take the time for it. I am here to contribute with what I have but I am also and above all here to serve. To serve my team, to serve the cause of independent living and its values. I strongly believe in change and I am optimistic for what we fight for here in ENIL.