New science course for people with intellectual disabilities. Report on benefits of school inclusion. Lack of support to family of people with disabilities is human rights violation – #IncludeNews October 2022

Overview of news, reports, policies relevant to people with intellectual disabilities and their families in Europe.

New science course for people with intellectual disabilities. Report on benefits of school inclusion. Lack of support to family of people with disabilities is human rights violation - #IncludeNews October 2022

#IncludeNews bring you updates about work done for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in Europe. This post is updated with new information during the month.


Testimonies from mothers of people with intellectual disabilities:

  • Distress, lack of basic supplies, lack of respite…
  • But also relief and strength via the financial support received, being able to afford assistance, or medicines…

“I have a disability, and I am mother of daughter (25) with intellectual disability. When the war started workshop had to accept displaced families. My daughter stays at home. She is having a hard time with lack of communication, she has become joyless and anxious”

“My (severely disabled) son used to have attacks of aggression and self-aggression 1-2 times a week. Now the attacks are more frequent, with every air raid alarm. I am a single mother. I do not work as I have to take care of my son. Every day is a struggle for survival…”

“My son works part-time at a theatre. The job brings him communication, satisfaction, and feeling of being needed. Everything changed with the war. During an air raid, he hurried to the shelter and injured his leg. He has been at home since. He dreams of returning to work.”

“She loves to travel, prepare various delicacies and needs meetings and activities. With the beginning of the war, her life changed a lot, her isolation intensified. She hides when she hears sirens. Running to the shelter is not for her.”

Every story is also about how being able to pay for medicine, food, and other daily supplies helps enormously. As does being able to hire assistants to help with everyday activities, provide relief to the daughters/sons as well as their mothers.

“R has difficulty communicating, but yesterday, with the help of a personal assistant, he was able to walk through a flowering park and pick some lilacs. His mother was very happy to receive flowers from her son.”

This is possible thanks to all the people and organisations who show solidarity and support to Ukrainian families of people with intellectual disabilities.

Thank you to everyone who helps!

“Parents of such children, brave and patient. But they do need support. They love their children, and no-one wants them to go to an institution in the future.” Olena Kravchenko, board chair, VGO Coalition.


New higher education science course in Scotland

The University of Strathclyde is welcoming a new cohort of students to its science campus this October as it embarks on its first STEM iteration of the trailblazing Breaking Barriers programme led by ENABLE. 

  • The science course has been added to the programme, giving the young people the chance to focus on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) both in the classroom and within a work environment for the first time.
  • Balfour Beatty has been announced as this year’s corporate partner. The infrastructure group will offer on-the-job training and mentorship to the young people taking part in Breaking Barriers. 

Whilst 45% of all Scotland’s school leavers go to university, only 8.6% of school leavers who have a learning disability go on to higher education.

  • Now, eight young people with a keen interest in STEM will graduate from the course with a host of new skills that can be used as they embark on the world of work. 
  • The programme offers students a six-week placement in university and then a six-week placement with a corporate partner. 


Ireland: Disability centre resident tells of sharing bedroom with 20 people

State healthcare watchdog met with 80 residents of disability services to discuss their lives and experiences.

  • A former resident of a campus-based disability service said they shared a bedroom with 20 other people before they moved into a new home in the community.
  • A separate former resident of a campus-based setting said moving into a new home in the community was the “first time in 50 years that they had their own bedroom”.
  • More in The Irish Times.


Quality investment in education and training: Expert report

The European Commission presented a new report on investing in education. The report addresses questions, such as

  • Which education and training measures are most effective in European Union (EU) countries?
  • How can the efficiency and effectiveness of spending be improved?
  • How to best evaluate policy decisions? 

The report offers useful insights and research on early childhood care and education, and on inclusive education (esp. in chapter Equity and inclusion, page 101).

“ECEC (early childhood education and care) has positive effects especially for the development of disadvantaged pupils, both for socio-emotional and cognitive skills. Therefore, investing in ECEC is essential and it is particularly cost-effective.”

  • “Research shows that the benefits of ECEC for children are large, especially for disadvantaged children.”
  • “Children from low-income families are less likely to attend ECEC. Data from PISA 2015 show that students from low SES groups in OECD countries were almost three times more likely to report that they did not attend ECEC programmes compared to students from high SES groups.”

“Research has identified that education systems with higher levels of school segregation reduce the opportunities of students with lower socio-economic backgrounds.”

  • “The interaction between high and low achievers favours the process of learning of disadvantaged students, which benefits from an adequate learning climate and higher expectations. On the contrary, high levels of concentration of low achievers undermine students’ learning opportunities and disappoint teachers and students’ expectations.”
  • “Good students can help their weaker peers (both through the provision of help and their acting as examples), students with greater difficulties enjoy a better curriculum (since teachers prepare it for the highest performing students) and, finally, better students deepen their learning thanks to their support of low-performing students.”
  • “Contact with classmates of other origins make students more familiar with new behaviours, expectations and motivations, which are clearly related to family background. These benefits cannot occur in a context of school segregation.”

“School composition also impacts school quality.”

  • Research has highlighted the existence of a better learning climate, greater support from families and fewer disciplinary problems in more integrated schools.”
  • “Students from families with a lower socio-economic background increase their expectations of academic success when they move from schools with a socially disadvantaged composition to schools with a higher social composition.”
  • “The performance of disadvantaged students is more sensitive to changes in the characteristics of the school composition.”

PISA data have demonstrated that those countries that have been able to be more inclusive and to reduce school segregation are also the ones that have shown higher progress in terms of students’ outcomes.”

“There is evidence that reducing school segregation is cost-effective.”

  • “The lost income associated with all sorts of inequalities, including educational inequalities, is considered to be significant. School segregation lowers the academic performance of the whole education system and there is a relationship between performance and economic returns, a segregated school system can produce highly significant earning losses.”
  • Reducing school segregation can lead to a positive economic balance in public spending per student accounting for public savings in areas such as health, security or welfare, as well as the gain derived from labour inclusion.”

That’s why we care about education.

(updates 26 October)


Italy: Lack of support to family of people with disabilities is human rights violation (UN CRPD Committee)

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has found that Italy’s failure to provide individualised support services to a family of persons with disabilities was discriminatory and violated their rights to family life, to live independently and to an adequate living standard.

The Committee published its decision after examining a complaint submitted by an Italian national, M.S.B.,who is a caregiver to her daughter and partner, both of whom are persons with disabilities and require continuous care.

“The Committee recognised the violation of a family caregiver’s right to social support, in addition to the rights of persons with disabilities”, said Markus Schefer, the Committee’s rapporteur on communications.

“This is also the first case that the Committee has examined claims of ‘discrimination by association’ as M.S.B. was treated less favourably because of her role as a family caregiver of persons with disabilities.” 

To care for her daughter and partner while earning income to support the whole family, M.S.B. worked from home via telecommuting from 2013 to 2017 until she was no longer allowed to continue her work remotely.

  • Because the Italian legal system does not provide any legal protection to family caregivers regarding pension for assistance, indemnity or sickness insurance, M.S.B. was not entitled to receive any compensation or economic support.
  • M.S.B. brought her case to the Committee, alleging that the lack of legal recognition and support leaves her, as a family caregiver, and her family, at risk of negative and heavy consequences to their health, finances, and personal and social life.

The Committee concluded that the right of family members may be linked to the protection of persons with disabilities, under certain conditions.

  • “The Committee stated that it was aware of instances in which the rights of persons with disabilities cannot be realised without the protection of family caregivers, and it concluded that in the narrow context of article 28 (2) (c), the Convention recognises the right of family caregivers to State protection provided that this recognition is indivisibly linked to the protection of the rights of family members with disabilities,” Schefer said.

The Committee also found that the failure by the State party to provide the family with adequate support, including assistance with disability-related expenses, adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care, amounted to a violation of the rights of M.S.B.’s daughter and partner under the Convention.

  • The Committee urged Italy to provide adequate compensation to M.S.B. and her family, take appropriate measures to ensure that M.S.B.’s family has access to adequate individualised support services, and prevent similar violations in the future.


“Belgium has the most pupils in special education in Europe”

“With 6% of its pupils in separate special schools, Belgium is far above the European average of 1.4%.

  • More than 50,000 children and young people are now in special education.
  • Special education is divided into different types of physical or mental disabilities, for emotional disorders or learning disabilities. In recent school years, type 2 (preschoolers with intellectual disability) and type 9 (preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder) on the rise.”

Source article by public broadcaster VRT. And our complaint against Belgium because of the situation in schools.


France: Campaigns draw attention to lack of services

Unapei, our member in France, is campaigning about the lack of support for people with disabilities.

  • Unapei co-organised a protest 28 September about poor pay and working conditions for staff in support services. These conditions impact on people with disabilities, as services close down because they don’t have enough people to work there.
  • Similarly, the campaign “Right to be just a parent” draws attention to how much of care and support rests on family members, because there are not adequate services for people with intellectual disabilities available. (A campaign message very much reflected in our own strategy.)


Previous #IncludeNews for September.


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