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EASPD presents models of good practice on legal capacity and early childhood intervention at United Nations

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities organised two side events in cooperation with the European Union and the Zero Project during the 9th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Models of good practice on supported decision making mechanisms and on early childhood fueled the debate on the sustainable development goals and the steps required for the implementation of a human rights approach.


Legal capacity: the game changer

Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has crystallised the right to be recognised equally before the law; yet between 2 and 3 % of the world population has an intellectual disability and experience daily discrimination in the exercise of their right to legal capacity. This situation hampers them from taking decisions about their lives, being instead subject to guardianship-based schemes where decisions are taken for them by their legal guardians. The effective enjoyment of this right requires the development and set-up of a range of support schemes that can best assist individuals, wherever needed and desired, to take autonomous decisions affecting their life, based on their personal will and preferences.


During the Conference’s side event, EASPD presented models of promising practices developed through the AJUPID project and highlighted the crucial role support services may have in achieving the changes required by the Convention. The event was organised in cooperation with the European Union, with additional speakers from the Council of Europe, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Italian Ministry of Health and Inclusion International.


The denial of legal capacity has rolling negative consequences on the enjoyment of other fundamental rights such as the right to live independently, the right to access to justice and the right to political participation, thus undermining many areas of life of persons with disabilities; this issue needs therefore to be addressed as a matter of urgency by all signatory parties to the CRPD. “The needed steps to make adequate individualized support available under a human rights approach require efforts at all levels and strong cooperation between key stakeholders involved. Support services need to develop and promote mechanisms supporting individuals in taking their decisions autonomously” said Ms Carmen Arroyo de Sande, EASPD Development Manager.


Leaving no one behind from early age: EASPD and Zero Project research on early intervention

It is universally recognized that the period of early childhood is one of the most important phases for the development and well-being of any child. Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services minimise and prevent risk factors from exerting their negative consequences on the development of children; still, it is far from being mainstreamed into national policies and financial support mechanisms for children with disabilities.


In its second side event EASPD raised the above issues in cooperation with the Zero Project (Essl Foundation, Austria). Models of good practice in Eastern European countries, highlighting the needed shift in the disability sector from the medical and bio-psychosocial model to the human rights model, were showcased along with the practical implementation steps required to ensure long-term sustainability.


Cooperation across stakeholders, empowering, holistic family-centred approaches and inclusion in the community are among the key elements that define successful early intervention. “ECI services can be a real tool paving the way to inclusion and empowerment of individuals with support needs along with their families. It is necessary for support services to integrate the human rights approach from the very early stages of the life of children with disabilities. There is a need to invest in children and their families to prevent them from entering the circle of poverty, deprivation and ensure their development follows their utmost potential” highlighted Ms Sabrina Ferraina, EASPD Policy Manager.   


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Note to editors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole



Sabrina Ferraina, EASPD Policy Manager
Nieves Tejada, EASPD Communications Officer