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An ESN report on how social services are promoting choice and control alongside people with disabilities

This article is also available in français, español, italiano, deutsch, polski
The report is available in English, français, italiano, polski, română

With this report, the European Social Network (ESN) launches its work in the field of disabilities and builds on discussions and information gathered during the Spring Seminar 2013 in Helsinki, Finland. The report aims to promote the experiences of ESN members, which show that the active involvement of service users in choosing their own services enhances their quality of life and also improves the quality of services offered.

It presents definitions of key concepts which underpin the independent living approach and looks at how national legislation in six European countries promotes independent living in Austria, Estonia, Romania, Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom in the hope that European readers from other countries may find some similarities and differences to reflect on their own policies towards people with disabilities. The report also aims to offer an insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by public social services to promote and implement the independent living approach in their everyday work with people with disabilities.

It is clear from this report that there is a long way to go until all people with disabilities gain real control over their lives and can live independently. The United Nations and the European Union endorse the independent living approach and national legislation has been passed in many countries and thanks to progressive practice and self-advocacy, many disabled people do have choice and control. However, there is still a gap between the high legislative principles and their financing and implementation.

This ESN report will launch a mutual learning process for ESN members to come together with disabled people, national government and service providers with the aim to ensure ESN plays its part in making independent living a reality for all.