Disability Group Launches Doorstep Challenge to Candidates on Independent Living

People with physical and sensory disabilities in Dublin are giving candidates in the forthcoming General Election a doorstep challenge on their understanding of independent living and personal assistance services. Dublin's Centre for Independent Living and the Dublin Leader Forum have issued the challenge through their members calling for improved services and an end to the waiting lists for personal assistance for people with disabilities.


Suzy Byrne, a spokesperson for the Dublin Centre of Independent Living explained, "Independent Living is defined as the right of all persons regardless of age, type or extent of disability to live in the community, with all of the privileges that this entails with full access to employment, transport, education, housing, health services and an active social life. An essential part of meeting this definition is the provision of Personal Assistance Services for people with physical and sensory disabilities and managed by them."

There are over 300 people with disabilities on waiting lists for the provision of personal assistance services funded by the HSE in Dublin. Another 1200 are on similar waiting lists nationwide. Many other people with disabilities are in receipt of home help services that do not allow them to experience independence in the conduct of their daily lives in accessing education and employment and a full social life.

The doorstep challenge asks candidates if they understand the philosophy of independent living and personal assistance services and further asks them to commit to funding to these vital services and an end to the waiting lists. 

John Roche, A Leader* who uses a personal assistance service and supports other disabled people who wish to use the services added, "all the political parties contesting Election 07 have made promises on disability but few have understood that the services they outline in the manifestos will not allow people with disabilities to make choices about our lives. Home help and home care services will not help many of those people with disabilities who wish to take up employment or live in their own homes."

It is estimated that, internationally, approximately 1 in 10 people have a disability or 650 million worldwide, with 80% of these living in the developed world. In Ireland, the population of people with a disability is approximately 300,000.

John Roche continued, "Without Independent Living and Personal Assistance Services, the alternatives facing many people are institutional care, family dependency, restricted access to education and training, poor employment prospects, and very restricted social, personal and emotional development. Independent Living offers choice and control over ones own life - it is the element of choice which underpins the Independent Living approach. This challenges the person with a disability to define their basic needs, empowers them to think differently and move away from passive dependence to self determination."

* A Leader is the term given to a person with a disability leading an independent life with a Personal Assistance Service.