For the European Disability Forum, the right for disabled people to choose and to make choices in life must be inviolable. Disabled people want to freely enjoy from their most fundamental rights and to live independently in the community as affirmed in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities should be able to enjoy good quality services that will make possible for them, in the long run, to fully exercise their citizenship, their right to dignity and enable them to participate in society.
The full inclusion and participation of disabled people in society is the main goal of the disability movement and a question of basic human rights.
Today, an important number of disabled people are forced to live in closed and inadequate institutions; are subject to inhuman and degrading treatment and are unable to exercise a fundamental right: the right to choose about their own lives.
The European Disability Forum firmly believes that each individual has the right to live in dignity and to be respected for the person he or she is. EDF considers that the transition from inadequate closed institutions to high quality community-based alternatives for everyone is the best way forward for a real inclusion of disabled people.
In 2016, EDF adopted the following definition of ‘Independent Living’
"Independent Living is the daily demonstration of human rights-based disability policies. Independent living is possible through the combination of various environmental and individual factors that allow persons with disabilities to have control over their own lives. This includes the opportunity to make real choices and decisions regarding where to live, with whom to live and how to live. Services must be available, accessible to all and provided on the basis of equal opportunity, free and informed consent and allowing persons with disabilities flexibility in our daily life. Independent living requires that the built environment, transport and information are accessible, that there is availability of technical aids, access to personal assistance and/or community-based services. It is necessary to point out that Independent living is for all persons with disabilities, regardless of the gender, age and the level of their support needs."
EDF is member of the Expert group on transition from institutional to community based care (EEG). The EEG is a broad coalition gathering stakeholders representing people with care or support needs including children, people with disabilities, people experiencing mental health problems, families; as well as service providers, public authorities and intergovernmental organisations. The EEG consists of the following organisations: COFACE (Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU), EASPD (European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities), EDF (European Disability Forum), ENIL/ECCL (European Network on Independent Living/European Coalition for Community Living), ESN (European Social Network), Eurochild, FEANTSA (European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless), Inclusion Europe, Lumos, Mental Health Europe, Mental Health Initiative Open Society Foundations, OHCHR Regional Office for Europe and UNICEF.
The European Union works towards the free movement of people, goods, services and capitals within its boundaries. It is the so-called ‘internal market”. In the past two years, the EU has also undertaken the task of making real the free movement of services.
An adequate internal market of services would allow persons with disabilities to benefit from quality services anywhere in the European Union, when travelling or living abroad. The EU should guarantee that these services are of quality throughout the EU; that they are not submitted to the same competition rules as commercial goods and services and that they remain accessible for all citizens.
EDF’s objectives currently focus on guaranteeing that the needs of people in situation of dependence are taken into account in the development and provision of quality services.