The stated aim of the ECEPA - 2004
People with extensive disabilities, i.e. those
who need assistance from other persons in their daily lives constitute
the group with the least education, employment, income and social contacts.
The reason is not our lack of physical and intellectual capabilities but
lack of access to mainstream education and training, lack of barrier-free
housing in the community, lack of accessible transportation, lack of barrier-free
workplaces and "reasonable accomodations", lack of personally
directed assistance in one's natural living environment and outright prejudice
and discrimination - conditions that force us into and keep us in residential
institutions and parental homes for lack of acceptable alternatives, rob
us of mainstream life and undermine our self-esteem and, thus, create
self-fulfilling prophecies.We believe that individuals who have acquired
their disability at an early age are particularly prone to get caught
in this self-reinforcing downward spiral.
One of the keys for breaking the vicious circle is personal assistance, i.e. user directed assistance from other persons with those activities of daily living that the user either cannot do by herself or for which he or she would need an inordinate amount of time and energy.
An estimated number of one million disabled European citizens are warehoused in residential institutions, marginalized and invisible. For this forgotten population personal assistance is one of the keys for moving back into the community.
At the same time, community based personal assistance policies and programs enable many assistance users to become gainfully employed, allow family members to return to the labor market and provide numerous employment opportunities for personal assistants.
A voice of our own is needed to break our present dependence on service providers and other professional experts and to present facts, convincing arguments and politically viable solutions that promote self-determination in every-day life and break the culture of dependence that our group has been exposed to far too long.