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"Inherent Dignity, Equality and Rights": Toward a Person-Centered Model for People Living with Disability


Today is the first day of the Inherent Dignity, Equality and Rights, an international conference on human rights and community living, taking place in Oslo and Tronndheim, Norway from Monday, June 17 through Thursday, June 20.

Sponsored by the Norwegian National Institute on Intellectual Disability and Community, the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim and the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD) at the Minot State University Center for Excellence, the conference aims to "mark the past work and future directions for services and supports for persons with intellectual disabilities around the world" with particular emphasis on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its effects in the legal and human rights spheres.

Speakers include academic researchers and nonprofit leaders from the U.S. and Europe with expertise in law, community living and deinstitutionalization, advocacy, and special education, among others.


They will be speaking on the current definition of intellectual disability, the meaning and legal potential of "consent," Norway's pioneering deinstitutionalization movement of the 1980s, self-determination and transition, community living, children's rights and autonomy.


Ireland's National Disability Authority provides a comparative overview of the progress Europe, Australia and the U.S. have made in providing services, such as community living, accessible housing and supportive employement, to people living with disabilities.

According to the CRPD, 10 percent of the world's population or approximately 650 million people live with disability, 90 percent of children with disabilities do not attend school in developing countries, and only 3 percent of adults with disabilities can read worldwide.


In the U.S., one of 45 countries with anti-discrimination laws in place, only 35 percent of working-age adults with disabilities were employed as of 2004, despite companies reporting an 85 percent retention rate for these employees after one year of employment.


While addressing the applications of the CRPD, speakers will also focus on the Maryland-based Council on Quality and Leadership's (CQL) pioneering Personal Outcome Measures (POM) program, which prioritizes person-centered and personal choice- and expectation-centered approaches to evaluating quality of life.

The U.S. has not ratified the CRPD, which has been adopted by 127 countries and the European Union. President Obama signed it in 2012, but it did not pass in the Senate, where the vote broke down 61 to 38 in favor of ratification, just missing the required two-thirds majority by five votes.

Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit The Arc's online Legislative Action Center allows Americans to become active in advocating for people with disabilities by keeping track of the latest legislation affecting this population.