Interview Jean-Pierre Ringler Jan 09

Jean-Pierre Ringler was born in the late 40s in Alsace, France. He lost his eyesight and one hand as a kid when he found a World War II handgrenade and played with it. 

jean-pierre_role_model.jpgHow long have you been involved with the Independent Living Movement and with ENIL in particular?
I have been in contact with the concept of Independent Living since 1987, when I met Judy Heuman, one of the founding members of the Berkeley Independent Living Center. I came into contact with ENIL at the occasion of the 2009 Freedom Drive. As I am strongly convinced of the importance of sharing our experiences at an international level, I thought it was important for my organisation to take an active part in this event.

Are you also a member of a national organisation in your country?  
Our organisation, though it is quite small, is a national wide organisation.

Do you have PA? How do you manage your personal assistance?
I have no PA. I may engage assistance in exceptional circumstances such as travelling.

Have you experienced different models of independent living in other countries?

Yes, in Canada and Sweden.

How do you see the development of the Independent Living Movement in the last 10 years in your country and in Europe?
In France, the Independent Living Movement is still in its early stages. In the past 10 or 20 years, a few small organisations tried to make it known and apply some of its philosophy. France is still favouring institutionalisation. The most advanced countries in Europe today, are the Scandinavian and the English speaking countries.

How can disabled people and ENIL continue to make an impact on national and European decision makers?
First of all, disabled people should try to promote the Independent Living concept at grassroot level and work with the different local authorities responsible for the implementation of disabled policies. As to ENIL, it should cooperate very closely with the different European institutions such as the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

What or who would you say was your biggest inspiration?
I drew my main inspiration from my two visits : to Canada in 2008, when I met, among other organisations, Independent Living Canada and Sweden in 2009, when I met the people from ILI, ENIL and different cooperatives.

What’s your most disliked political cliché?
In reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all men are born free and equal, we could paraphrase George Orwell quotation, in Animal Farm, that all men are equal, but some are more equal than others, or in other terms, that some are less equal than others

related article: blog entry IL in Strasbourg

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