Innovative Policy 2015 on Independent Living
Luxembourg’s National Disability Information Centre
|Responsible body||Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration, and for the Greater Region|
Info-Handicap is a national disability information and meeting centre, founded in 1993 by 16 disability organizations. While the idea for such a centre came from the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration, and for the Greater Region, which also financially supports it, Info-Handicap is under the full control of its disability member organizations. The centre assists people with disabilities to find their way through complex administrative procedures and competences. Additionally, Info-Handicap has become a driver of inclusive policies as well as the main contact on any disability-related questions.
In 1989 the Government of Luxembourg decided that policies targeting people with disabilities should be coordinated. The Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration, and for the Greater Region was entrusted with the implementation of this idea, and it developed the project of a national disability information centre financially supported by the government, but managed under the control of national disability organizations. In April 1993, 16 disability organizations, which together formed the National Disability Council, founded Info-Handicap and signed a funding agreement with the government. Since then, Info-Handicap has constantly sought to carry out its mandate, including initiatives that have an impact beyond Luxembourg’s borders. Recently, Info-Handicap assisted in elaborating a strategy for setting up a national disability action plan, and functions as a resource centre in this area.
A driver for inclusive policies
One of the major challenges in the implementation of inclusive policies is to organize the dialogue between decision makers and civil society. Info-Handicap’s unique position allows it to receive and dispatch input from and to all levels, and thereby to function as a hub that facilitates such a dialogue smoothly and on a permanent basis.
Identification of challenges and solutions
This leads firstly to improved identification and understanding of the existing challenges and, secondly, to increased opportunities for developing adequate solutions.
Info-Handicap offers information and guidance for persons with disabilities, for members of their family and social circle, as well as for others who are interested. This includes a legal information service and, in cases of discrimination, a meeting with a lawyer.
«Info-Handicap plays an important role in empowering persons with disabilities as well as in involving civil society in decision-making. I highly recommend other countries to follow a similar path.»
Info-Handicap offers information and guidance for persons with disabilities, for members of their family and social environment, as well as for others who are interested in the field of disability. Staff assists persons with disabilities to fill in forms or write letters, and to address the correct contact points in the most direct way. In addition, they organize legal assistance and, in cases of discrimination, there is the possibility to meet with a lawyer free of charge. They undertake activities for supporting independent living, offer training, organize awareness-raising events, and promote accessibility. Importantly, they encourage their members to insist on the right to inclusion and not to accept exclusive mechanisms. The work of Info-Handicap is continually monitored by the Ministry and member organizations.
OUTCOME, IMPACT, AND EFFECTIVENESS
• Info-Handicap’s experience has led to its reputation reaching all of Europe.
• Info-Handicap regularly represents the European Disability Forum at official events and has been the partner or coordinator of projects funded by the European Commission.
• Since 1999, Info-Handicap has also coordinated the European Concept for Accessibility Network.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT The idea of a national disability information centre is perfectly transferable to other countries, regions, or even to local levels. Info-Handicap’s yearly costs are around €600,000, including the salaries of 6.7 staff members – three with disabilities.
The idea of a national disability information centre is perfectly transferable to other countries, regions, or even to local levels. Info-Handicap’s yearly costs are around €600,000, including the salaries of 6.7 staff members – three with disabilities.
Nominated by: Mr. Silvio SAGRAMOLA, Info-Handicap – National Disability Information and Meeting Centre, Luxembourg