More than 20 professional from several European countries are trained in independent living and personal assistance as part of the “Rural in Life” programme.

More than 20 professional from several European countries are trained in independent living and personal assistance as part of the “Rural in Life” programme.

A total of 28 professionals and trainers from five European countries have participated from 21 to 24 February in a training within the framework of the “Rural in Life” programme, co-financed by Erasmus+ of the European Union.

This transnational activity, which took place at the Hotel Ilunion Suites Madrid, offered professionals from entities associates to the programme the opportunity to learn about the necessary curricula adaptations for the attention of a diverse audience in order to achieve an optimal learning process. These partners, as you already know, are the Associations of People with Physical and Organic disabilities from Bizkaia, Madrid and Seville – FEKOOR, FAMMA, COCEMFE Sevilla; OZARA D.O.O. from Slovenia; Istanbul Gelisim Universitesi from Turkey; and EQUIP from Denmark.

The contents revolved around the following topics: history and evolution of the concept of disability; origins of the Independent Living Movement (IL); milestones and development of the concept of personal autonomy; personal assistance; plans for the transition to independent living in rural areas; resources available for the optimisation of a full, inclusive and independent life, and their comparison between different national and international partners. All this was delivered through active methodologies promoted by the trainers. Furthermore, this training will allow the creation of virtual courses that will tutor professionals from rural areas in independent living and personal assistance.

Notable contributions

One of the outstanding contributions was the master class given by Silvia Doratiotto, from the “Instituto dei Sordi di Torino” (ONLUS Foundation), who gave the methodological keys to correctly address to students with a sensory hearing disability. She also gave an overview of the history and culture of the Deaf Community in order to raise awareness of it.

Likewise, the training given by the project coordinator, Encarnación Barrera, offered different ways of tutoring and dynamising online course, as well as other essential pedagogical notions, which were expanded on by the speakers Álvaro Walls and Emilio Tortosa, both from COCEMFE Seville, and Ana Elorz and Izaskun Jiménez from FEKOOR.

Yolanda Garagorri, a professional with a physical disability who collaborates with FEKOOR, explained that “the personal assistant is the figure who helps me to develop fully as an individual. My assistant is my arms and my feet wherever I cannot get to, I do the rest of the tasks myself, some with more help and other without.”

Personal assistance from different cultures

However, this perspective of personal assistance is not present in other countries, such as Turkey, where for cultural reasons there is an overprotection of the person with disability. The disabled person has no legal authority as he/she is under the control of their family, who receive state support and decide for them.

In other cases, the problem revolved around the lack of specific regulations on the figure of the personal assistant, as is the case in Spain, where, unlike Slovenia (which is the only country that does have a legislative framework in place), their functions are not formally defined, nor do they have their own professional category, since today in Andalusia they are considered as part of the “domestic workers” agreement.

All participants were fully aligned towards the respect of the concepts of autonomy and independence defended in different articles of the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Rights that also concerns dignity, inclusion in society, independent living and non-discrimination on any grounds. Nevertheless, not all participants agreed on how to implement some of the above aspects in practice due to the lack of explicit regulations.

That is why, in this sense, it was concluded that there is a need to delimit the figure of the personal assistant within the normative framework, to put aside any possible interpretation and speculation, as well as to underline the importance of a good independent living plan.

The training was attended by personalities from the regional government of Madrid, such as the Regional Minister for Family, Youth and Social Policy of the Community of Madrid, Concepción Dancausa, and the General Director for the Care of People with Disabilities of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio Tremiño.

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