The fourth annual European Independent Living Day, which was celebrated across Europe on May 5, was aimed at raising awareness about the right of all disabled people to live independently and to be included in the community. It also aimed to shed light on the many barriers disabled people face in their everyday lives and the increasingly difficult situation in many European countries.
Independent living, set out in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, requires that disabled people are provided with all the necessary means to exercise choice and control over their lives and to make all decisions about their lives. This means being able to choose where and with whom they live, who supports them, to have relationships, to work, to do sports, to have fun with friends or to be on their own. Independent living is incompatible with any form of institutionalisation or segregation, be it in residential care, special schools or sheltered workshops.
According to the European Network on Independent Living – ENIL and the research (by the CRPD committee), there are numerous barriers to independent living, not least the continued institutionalisation of disabled people in most member states of the European Union. Prejudice, stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes are still prevalent, as well as the idea that some disabled people cannot live independently.
On May 4, ENIL organised a screening of Defiant Lives, a documentary about the history of the disability movement, at the European Parliament in Brussels.