CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

The DPI European Union Committees' INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY E-MAIL NEWS SERVICE

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/* Written by MILES-PAUL@ASCO.comlink.apc.org in igc:gen.diffable */
/* ---------- "Disabled Peoples' International Eur" ---------- */

               The DPI European Union Committees'
        INTERNATIONAL  DISABILITY  E-MAIL  NEWS  SERVICE

               Issue No. 38/94  December 1, 1994

     Disabled Peoples  International
     in the European Region

     Presentation by Dinah Radtke, Germany
     at the World Assembly of Disabled Peoples  International
     DPI on December 5, 1994 in Sydney, Australia

Dear friends from the DPI-Family

     Since my - originally in the program announced - colleague
Ottmar Miles-Paul from Germany can t be here in Sydney to give
his presentation about Disabled Peoples  International in the
European Region I am happy and honored to jump in for him and to
talk to you about the situation of DPI in the European region.
My name is Dinah Radtke, I am the vice-chair person of
DPI-Europe and come from the German Council of Centers for
Self-Determined Living - ISL e.V.

     In order to give you an overview what s going on in DPI in
Europe - right on the other side of the world from here - I
structured this presentation in three parts:  First I am going
to give you some background information about the history and
development of DPI- Europe, second I am going to talk about the
current situation of DPI in Europe before I will present some
thoughts what will be important for the further development and
strengthening of DPI in the European Region.

     While the spark for the development of DPI from the early
80ies caught fire in many areas of the world quite fast, it took
us in Europe some time to get started in order to develop DPI on
a broader scale.  Although there have been many activities of
disabled people and their organisations on the national level in
the 80ies, the international connection of disabled people was
very loose and many disabled people didn t even know that there
was a disability rights movement in other countries in
existence.  In opposition to many other countries of the world,
disabled people from northern and western European countries
were and are still confronted with a quite developed social
welfare system, which gives us assistance and support in certain
areas but is traditionally designed to keep us dependent,
oppressed and creates big welfare businesses profiting from and
speaking for us.  Many disabled people therefore have been
institutionalised and most of their organisations were and are
still run by non-disabled professionals or parents, while
organisations of disabled people are faced with a permanent lack
of funding.  Disabled people in other European countries like in
middle and eastern or in southern Europe were mostly suppressed
in forming their own organisations or had a big lack of funding
and of an accessible infrastructure with the neccessary support
services so that there was hardly any connection between these
two worlds in Europe.

     1989 was a key year for the European disability rights
movement when one of the first European conferences of disabled
people was held in the European parliament in Strassbourg
(France) around the issue of personal assistance with
participants from a number of European countries.  This
occassion was used to form the European Network on Independent
Living - ENIL.  After DPI-Europe has received some funding from
the DPI-headquarter in 1991 it needed only a little spark in
order to get DPI also in Europe stronger off the ground.  In
1991 we were able to get together in Paris and to develop a
strong action plan for the further development of DPI in Europe,
which included a close cooperation with the European Network on
Independent Living and the formation of a subcommittee of member
states of the European Union.  Since the main purpose of the
formation of this sub-committee was the reason to fulfill the
criterea in order to be able to make successful funding
applications to the bodies of the European Union, this strategy
proved to be very successful since the main funding for the
activities of DPI in Europe is coming currently from this
funding source.

     Having developed this structure we could start to work much
more effectively and coordinated so that DPI was able to become
a widely known and driving force for the human rights and an
independent and self-determined life of disabled people
throughout Europe. The development of two DPI offices in London
and Helsinki enabled us to start and coordinate a number of for
Europe ground breaking activities, which helped to change the
view about disability and of disabled people themselves.

     Besides the organising of international seminars around
issues like Independent Living, Peer Counseling or DPI meetings,
a big and empowering conference with more than 450 mostly
disabled participants from more than 40 countries was held by
the Dutch Gehandicaptenraad in the Netherlands in cooperation
with DPI-Europe in 1993.  A development seminar with
representatives from many middle and eastern European countries
was held by DPI in November 1993 in Prague in order to
strengthen the ties of DPI with middle and eastern European
countries and to support the development of DPI member
organisations in this part of Europe.  Visits and exchanges to
several middle, eastern and southern European countries by DPI
representatives were organised so that the by the end of 1993
existing 15 members of DPI-Europe is rapidly growing.

     Because of the fact that the human rights approach of
disability has hardly been developed in Europe in the past, DPI
started a variety of activitities to advocate for
anti-discrimination legislation throughout Europe.  The
coordination of 3 Europe-Wide Protest Days for Equal Rights in
1992, 1993 and 1994 with annualy acitivities in more than 100
European cities and in 17 European countries have not only shown
our determination to fight for our rights and
anti-discrimination legislation, but has given disabled people
throughout Europe a sense of togetherness and the importants of
a closer cooperation.  This spirit is also more and more present
in the coordination of the European Day of Disabled People on
December 3rd, which is mainly run and supported by DPI.  While
the first European parliament of disabled people, held in the
European parliament in Brussels (Belgium) with more than 450
disabled people in 1993. was a big success and inspiration for
the European disability movement, thousands of activities were
held in addition to that on the grassrout level.  This year DPI
presented in cooperation with the European disability forum a
human rights report, which was presented on December 1st to the
European parliament and many local and national events are
taking place around this time throughout Europe.  Those
activities, which have brought the human rights issue of
disabled people in the focus, have not only brought DPI more in
the spot-light, but has already created first successes.  In
Germany, for example disabled people have been included in the
new constitution as group, which shall not be discriminated
against after more than 3 years of lobbying and in the White
Paper on Social policy of the European Union there is a major
shift stated towards equal rights for disabled people.

     Although there are still many problems with the funding and
the infrastructure of the national assemblies and our
international cooperation so that many development activities
are still necessary, DPI-Europe has had a couple of fad years,
which brought a hardly known organisation into the spot-light in
Europe and made it to a motor for change.  Nethertheless it
should be mentioned that we still have many problems in order to
overcome and to deal with language problems, difficult
communication, the fact that there are always to few who do the
work and that the knowledge of the international and national
political bodies and funding possibilities under disabled people
and their organisations is still quite low.

Therefore DPI-Europe has many challenges ahead in order to keep
the begun process going and to get a wider grassrout involvement
as well as a stronger political influence.  Probably most
important for DPI will be if we will succeed to raise more money
for our work.  We have to be much stronger about our demand that
organisations of disabled people should receive priority funding
instead of the traditional organisations, who speak for us.  We
have to make sure that general funding programs will be also
opened to disabled people, their organisations and our special
needs and we have to cooperate much more closely in order to
train ourselves how to apply and raise money most effectively.

     Another main challenge ahead of us is the improvement of
our communication in order to make it faster and more effective.
Besides the publication of our newsletters, which are already
already widely distributed, we have to make sure that our member
organisations and the grassrout organisations are better
equipped with telephones, faxes and new ways of communication.
One project we just have started is the use of electronic mail
as a tool to reach many disabled people fast, comparable cheap
and easy.  Making our information accessible for the many
different languages spoken in Europe will be one of the biggest
challenges for us in the future in the field of communication.

     Further activities for the development of DPI-Europe in
general and our member organisations are desperately needed.
Development seminars like the one in Prague in 1993 and vivid
exchanges between DPI member organisations are desperately
needed in order to help the huge potential which exists in
middle, eastern and southern European countries to grow.
Therefore DPI representatives have to work strongly towards
making their activities known and more relevant to the national
assemblies and the grassrout.

     Last but not least we have to strengthen our political
influence and our liaison with political bodies on the national
and international level.  The close cooperation with the
intergroup on disability of the European Parliament and members
of the European parliament is a very hopeful development, which
we have to continue and to expand.

     Ending this presentation I would like to thank all of you
from DPI for your inspiration you have given us in Europe and
the work you have done, which have helped us in Europe to work
towards the development of a strong and growing movement of
disabled people for equal rights and a self-determined life.  I
am sure that a growing European disability rights movement will
effect the international policy in the field of disability in
the long-term in fields like development aid or legislation.  We
will do our best to make Europe and this world a better place to
live for all of us.

Thank you very much for your attention!

**********************************************************
                      The DPI European Union Committees'
               INTERNATIONAL  DISABILITY  E-MAIL  NEWS  SERVICE

          Disabled Peoples' International - European Union Committee
     c/o Ottmar Miles-Paul, Werner-Hilpert-Str. 8, D-34117 Kassel Germany
                  Tel. +49 561/713811   fax: +49 561/713132
                       E.-Mail: ISLKS@ASCO.ks.open.de
*********************************************************

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