Disability and Independent Living

What is the problem?

In Portugal, the persons with disability are daily confronted with multiple discrimination, marginalization and social exclusion forms. In spite of the growing acknowledgment of the rights of the persons with disability, substantiated in the approval – in 2006, by the UN – of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, these continue to experience constant violations of the principles of equality of opportunities at the civic, political, economic and social plans, and disrespect for  difference and self-determination. 

The Independent Living has been internationally consolidating as a right of the persons with disability to have full control over the decisions concerning their lives. It's about proclaiming the right to live in socially inclusive contexts, in which they are not subdued by the dependence logics of family care nor of the solutions offered in institutional contexts that, without attending to their specificities, place them in a vulnerability and subalternity situation, preventing them from taking decisions which regard their own lives.

What are we doing?

Project DECIDE – Disability and self-determination: the challenge of Independent living in Portugal critically analyses emergent proposals for a reinvention of the life contexts of the persons with disability, in the sense of promoting the respect for the self-determination of this highly marginalized group. Confronting the long-established dependency culture in Portugal, whether in the community or in the institutions, the project gathered voices of the persons with disability living a) in institutional context; b) in the community; c) and according to the principles of the independent living in Portugal.

Seeking to open the issue of disability to a broad public debate, this project's results will allow assessing the possibilities and advantages of a transformation of the life and support contexts of the persons living with disability in Portugal. Analysing the challenges to the workability of an “independent living” model in our society, the project seeks to contribute to an adequate and informed redefinition of the disability policies in Portugal.

What do we seek to bring about?

Apart from other more academic publications, the team will produce a documentary on the independent living of persons with disability in Portugal, and a synthesis report to submit to public and governmental entities. The base for this report is the evaluation of the independent living pilot project financed by Lisbon's City Hall and implemented by Lisbon's Independent Living Centre. This municipal project, initiated in December 2015, was the first Independent Living pilot project for persons with disabilities developed in Portugal.

In the sense of widening the debate to a broader public, project DECIDE promoted – in September 2018, in articulation with the project's partner organizations – a  documental cinema cycle, “IncomodArte – Deficiência e sociedade (Disability and society)”, which gathered three themes worked in Centro de Estudos Sociais' projects: Disability and sexuality, Disability and war, and Disability and Independent Living.

Related Projects


Disability and self-determination: the challenge of Independent living in Portugal

Fernando Fontes

June 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020

Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology

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