Interview Miguel Fonseca

miguel_role_model.jpgMiguel Fonseca
Mathematician

Q: How long have you been involved with the Independent Living Movement and with ENIL in particular?
A: I started being involved with the Independent Living Movement recently, in 2008. In Portugal, there are not many solutions and Independent Living is still an unknown expression. I thought it was about time that an answer appeared for Portuguese disabled people who want to be in charge of their own lives and fully exercise their citizenship.

I contacted ENIL to get information on the matter, regarding what was being done across Europe and to know what could be done in Portugal.

Q: Are you also a member of a national organization in your country?
A: After my contact with ENIL I became acquainted with some people in Portugal that shared my concerns about the life of disabled people in Portugal. Together, we founded the IPCVI – Portuguese Institute for Citizenship and Independent Living.

IPCVI’s mission is to create conditions that facilitate the development and effective access to knowledge, technologies, technical and human resources to achieve social, professional, educational and cultural participation development of citizens with disabilities.

Later on, ENIL invited IPCVI to take part in Freedom Drive, which we gladly accepted. I took part in it, and I must say it was an enlightening experience, both personally and institutionally.

Q: Do you have PA? How do you manage your personal assistance? How did you live before you had PA?
A: In the present moment, there is no personal assistance scheme in Portugal and I rely on my family for assistance in my day-to-day activities. Only until high school, before entering university, I had an assistant during class time. But besides that, only my family has assisted me up until now, both at home and at my workplace.

Q: How can disabled people and ENIL continue to make an impact on national and European decision makers?
A: I think that are two levels of action: global and local.

By global action I mean initiatives and events like Freedom Drive. They make the cause of Independent Living visible and make the political decision makers aware of the rights and needs of an important segment of the european population.

Locally, people should gather efforts and create solutions for the needs and aspirations of their community. Initiative is a priceless tool in the life of a disabled person.

Q: What or who would you say was your biggest inspiration?
A: Ed Roberts.

Q: What’s your most disliked political cliché?
A: "It’s not the right time, yet…"

related article: IPCVI

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