Valencia and Brussels, 24th October 2018 – Twelve years ago, Spain ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite this, people with disabilities continue to be placed in newly built institutions and many do not have control over their lives. A joint effort is needed to counter efforts by the Government, service providers and funders to re-define personal assistance, independent living, the right to work and education in ways that restrict disabled people’s choices and limit their autonomy.
The European Independent Living movement will meet in Valencia on the 25th – 26th October for the 2nd European Congress on Independent Living. Citizens, activists, academics and organisations of disabled people will reflect on the common European problems and strategies, and evaluate the social inclusion policies and personal assistance schemes that co-exist in Spain and elsewhere. The event comes 15 years after the 1st Congress in Valencia and provides an opportunity to assess the future and sustainability of Independent Living in Spain, and opportunities for transnational action.
“The time has come to reflect on the social and political situation in the democratic societies of the 21st century. We need new inclusive and liberating policies, and for that, we need an active European Independent Living movement” said Ismael Llorens, of Federación Vida Independiente.
The Congress will reflect on the future challenges of the European Independent Living movement and the alliances that need to be strengthened with the rest of the community.
“Disabled people fought too hard for independent living and personal assistance, for these rights to be hijacked and re-defined by those with other agendas” said Kapka Panayotova, the President of the European Network on Independent Living, adding that “We need to work together, using the CRPD, to regain control of this terminology, and what it means in practice.”
The Valencia Congress is organised by Federación Vida Independiente (FEVI), together with the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), and with the support of the Bente Skansgårds Foundation and ULOBA (Norway), Foro de Vida Independiente y Divertad (FVID), Generalitat Valenciana and Ajuntament de Valéncia. Speakers will include Stig Langvad, a member of the CRPD Committee, Adolf Ratzka, of the Independent Living Institute in Sweden, Prof. Miguel A. V. Ferreira and Prof. Mario Toboso, Portuguese politician Jorge Falcato, Antonio Centeno and Laura Fernández Cordero, members of the FVID.
The Congress can be followed online, in Spanish and English, at this link.