Projects and Activities
II to hold Second Regional Forum for Families in Johannesburg, South Africa on 2-3 March, 2011I
nclusion International held a regional forum for families and self-advocates “Transforming Rights into Action: Africa in Focus” on 2-3 March in Johannesburg, South Africa. The forum was organised in collaboration with Inclusion Africa, Disabled Children’s Action Group, Down Syndrome South Africa and the Norwegian Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.
This is one of the five regional events Inclusion International will hold in the next two years to identify and raise awareness of the issues impacting the social, economic and political exclusion of people with intellectual disabilities from their communities. The main objective is to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and support the work of its member organizations and other organizations of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in implementing the changes required. All information, documents and tools generated in these forums, will contribute to Inclusion International’s global strategy to promote the Convention.
Like the previous Forum held in Bogota, Colombia in November 2010, the African Forum also focused on Inclusion International’s 4 key priority areas:
• Preamble on the Role of Families (family support)
• Article 12: Equal Recognition Before the Law – People with intellectual disabilities have legal capacity and have the right to support in order to exercise their capacity
• Article 19: Living Independently and Being Included in the Community – People with intellectual disabilities have the right to choose to live in the community with the supports required
• Article 24: Education – Students with intellectual disabilities have the right to be included in the regular school with the supports they require.
Representatives from over 16 countries from all regions of Africaparticipated as well as invited guest speakers such as Ms Edah Maina, a members of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has agreed to participate in the event.
II Regional Forum for Families in Colombia1
Over 300 participated in the forum ‘The Road to Inclusion: Together we can make the change!’ and the event was a huge success. This is the first of five regional forums to be held by Inclusion International in the next two years to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities supporting the work of its member organizations and other organizations of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in implementing the changes required. All information, documents and tools generated from these forums, will contribute to II’s global strategy to promote the Convention.
The event focused on Inclusion International’s 4 key priority areas:
* Preamble on the Role of Families (family support)
* Article 12: Equal Recognition Before the Law – People with intellectual disabilities have legal capacity and have the right to support in order to exercise their capacity
* Article 19: Living Independently and Being Included in the Community – People with intellectual disabilities have the right to choose to live in the community with the supports required
* Article 24: Education – Students with intellectual disabilities have the right to be included in the regular school with the supports they require.
A combination of regional and international presenters introduced the topics in plenary and participants broke into focus sessions on each of the key areas. Key issues were raised and discussed during these sessions and the information collected will feed into II’s work on promoting the Convention.
Regional Forum for Self Advocates
The first day of the event was a forum for self advocates with 30 participants from four countries in Latin America; Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss self-advocacy training and issues important to self advocates. One of the invited participants, Juan Cobeñas, from Argentina, was prevented from attending the meeting because the airline TACA he and his family were travelling with lost part of his wheelchair. The airline failed to understand that losing a wheelchair is not like losing a suitcase and that without a fully functional wheelchair Juan could not continue his trip and had no other option but to return home. A complaint letter to the airline was formulated by the participants during the meeting and an online petition against the airline has been set up by Inclusion International.
Inclusion International, along with its member organizations in over 115 countries, is launching a campaign to promote Article 19 of the CRPD, Living in the Community. Article 19 ensures that people with disabilities have the right to live in the community with the supports they require, with equal access to community services such as education, health care, transportation, etc. This commitment has significant implications for governments, communities and service providers. It requires that we collectively address the current reality of the lives of people with disabilities who live in situations of isolation, segregation, confinement and dependence, whether in an institution or in “institutionalized” living conditions…read more (Word doc.)
The event was organized by The Lebanese Association for Self Advocacy, Friends of Disabled Association and Al Zawrak in partnership with Inclusion International and took place in Beirut Lebanon on March 3-4 2010.
The objective of the forum was to examine Article 19 of the CRPD (the right to live in the community) through an open dialogue with families and self-advocates to explore what people with intellectual disabilities and their families need to do to exercise this right and to provide an analysis policy and practice that enable them to live and be included in their community.
The project worked with several human rights experts and government officials who are reviewing the civil law in Lebanon in relation to the CRPD to develop an analysis of the current laws in relation to the CRPD and to identify opportunities for building on the current law (Law 220) to support ratification and implementation. Based on the review a consultation was conducted with parents, self advocates and professionals from Lebanon as well as representatives and organizations from countries that have started to discuss the implementation of the Convention in their countries, as organisations whether or not their governments have ratified, namely; Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Libya, to create positive change in empowering self advocates starting with identifying their needs. These consultations culminated in a workshop which brought together 98 participants (36 were self advocates, 20 professionals and support persons and 32 parents). The workshop was an opportunity to build the knowledge and capacity of self-advocates and families about the CRPD and it’s potential use as a tool in promoting change. Self-advocates and families had an opportunity to work apart and together and to discuss the central question of what it means to live and be supported in the community. Together families who currently use institutional services and those who are trying to develop new models shared ideas about what might be possible in the future. Self-advocates had an opportunity to talk about their own dreams and aspirations for the future. As the two perspectives was brought together a new dialogue began to emerge which began to touch on some of the social and policy barriers that limit the way that self-advocates are able to chose where and with whom they live and to identify the supports they require.
The project in Lebanon aimed to promote the right to live in the community using the framework of the CRPD. For most families the only support which they have received if any has been through institutionalized services (day services or residential institutions). II has two national member organizations in Lebanon both of which provide these institutional services partially funded y government and partially private funding. Despite being family based groups (families on their boards etc) they retain very traditional models of segregated day programs and little connection to the mainstream community. In order to support a shift in thinking by parents and parents groups, II designed this initiative to work directly with a group of parents and self-advocates who are emerging leaders in thinking about alternative more progressive models of community living in partnership with II’s member organizations. In order for governments to confront the policy and legislative barriers to implementation of Article 19, parents and self-advocates need to be creating demands for alternative approaches to traditional institutionalized and segregated services (including residential institutionalization).