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‘Together we are stronger’: Hundreds to meet for major event on intellectual disability in Rome

headerEiA2015_3Opinion by Europe in Action

It is no news that people with intellectual disabilities are discriminated against, that their rights are infringed upon, and that they are denied the same opportunities as any other person. Still, the scale of the problem is often minimized, and instances of neglect and abuse are brushed under the carpet.

The reality is uncomfortable for many. As the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights points out, 21 European member states currently prevent some people with disabilities from voting or standing for elections. Children with intellectual disabilities are often forced into sub-par education, and their families are driven into poverty due to lack of support in caring for their children.

With this is mind, supporting people with intellectual disabilities to become self-advocates is more important than ever. By speaking up for their rights, self-advocates improve not only their lives, but help advance the cause of intellectual disability as a whole.

It is then no wonder that Inclusion Europe chose ‘Families and Self-Advocacy’ as their topic for the Europe in Action Conference, a yearly event that has become  a tradition for many people with intellectual disabilities, their families, carers and representative organisations. Taking place in Rome on 21 and 22 May 2015 and co-organised with Anffas Onlus, Europe in Action will gather more than 330 participants for an engaging event that will address effective and innovating ways of strengthening the self-advocacy movement at local, regional and national levels, while discussing the impact of self-advocacy on families. The conference will also address ways in which families and self-advocates can work together to promote the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

“The conference will be an important moment and a new starting point for all Italian people with intellectual disabilities, for their families and for our decision-makers,” said Anffas Onlus National President Roberto Speziale. The conference programme will mix personal stories from self-advocates with sessions delivered by experts in the field or European policy-makers. The personal and political dimensions of self-advocacy will be central to the programme, particular in relation to issues such as legal capacity, political participation, accessibility, health, education and community-living.

“People with intellectual disabilities are experts when it comes to their lives,” said Inclusion Europe Director Geert Freyhoff.  “Self-advocates are therefore in the best position to advise policy-makers, and should be involved and consulted in all decisions that affect the interests and wellbeing of persons with intellectual disabilities,” he added.

To find out more about Europe in Action, please click here.

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Category: A Frontpage, Disabilities, Disability, EU, Opinion