Since the First Independent Living Congress was held in Spain (Tenerife, 2003), people with functional diversity who were ideologically linked to the Independent Living Movement have been observing that, despite the difficulties and the obstacles of all kinds at different levels, the demand for freedom and dignity implicit in this philosophy are slowly consolidating in collective consciousness. However, the medium and long-term effects of an altered demography, the ever so less spaced economic crises striking our collective, and the gradual privatization and commercialization of social services -in which the hegemonic artifact of the status quo of disability is a player-, push us to stop and reflect. What should be the direction and the peculiarities that must have the inclusive and liberating policies for men and women with disability? What challenges and difficulties does this inevitable journey include? Is there a similarity and affinity across Europe that gives orientation to this challenge…?
This Congress wants to be a necessary pause to try to provide answers to these questions, to gain awareness, to free ourselves from external thought patterns, to gather proposals, wills, actions and alternatives. It wants to be an environment of critical reflection with the purpose of being able to sketch, from within that critical reflection, key inclusive policies, taking as a gravitational centers personal autonomy and full equality in civil rights. An exercise of respect to individuality and human diversity of which we all are a part.
It can be said that the Independent Life Movement in Spain has made its way through the barriers of the monolithic framework of “disability” since 2001. It does so through the Internet on the platform of the “Foro de Vida Independiente”, a citizen group, free and open that tries to welcome the concerns and expectations of all those men and women who have chosen to make human rights and social activism inseparable without hierarchies or client structures. Its dynamic cemented the aforementioned first Independent Living Congress, but the propagation of that ideology, the network and cooperative work also reached the misnamed Law of Dependency in order to make it permeable to the revitalizing airs for the rights of people with functional diversity, to opt for an independent life within the community, to access personal assistance… The sit-in of activists in the IMSERSO building in Madrid in 2006 marked a milestone and stressed that the determination and intransigence to control and the decline in individual freedom and civil rights are attitudes that the subsequent development of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has upheld to this day.