Self-advocacy group of persons with intellectual disabilities
- Self-Defence Project
- Jo Clemente Institute
- Country of Implementation
- Latin America & Caribbean
- South America
- Start Year
- First published
“The Self-Defence project strengthens the independence and autonomy of people with intellectual disabilities.” Daniela Machado Mendes, CEO, Instituto Jô Clemente
In 2011 the Instituto Jô Clemente (IJC), an NGO based in São Paulo, Brazil, initiated the Self-Defence project to empower people with intellectual disabilities to become autonomous self-advocates. IJC helps them to organize and select their own agenda, as well as to debate about their rights and how to use them. Starting in 2015 the group of self-advocates has had a seat representing persons with disabilities before the City of São Paulo. Between 2011 and 2022 the number of participants has grown from 11 to 30.
People with intellectual disabilities often lack knowledge about their rights, leading to families or organizations taking over their decisions.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The Self-Defence project aims to work with people with intellectual disabilities, who have traditionally been denied their voting rights or their rights to higher education. Self-Defence advocate groups meet monthly to discuss topics related to intellectual disability, such as the Brazilian Inclusion Law or the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The self-advocates plan, organize, decide, and carry out activities, including selecting and training new self-advocates. Along with the rights of people with disabilities, the group also discusses civic duties and responsibilities. Meetings include a person who plays the role of a supporter who works with people with disabilities to eliminate barriers, such as creating accessible publishing materials in easy language or using sign language. Moreover, the group produces printed materials such as a self-advocacy guide on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, in addition to autonomously creating and maintaining a blog about the developments of the entire project.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
IJC receives both public and private funding for the Self-Defence project. In 2022 the organization received $7,000 from the Helena Florisbal Institute and $10,000 from the Secretaria Municipal da Pessoa com Deficiência (Municipal Secretariat for Persons with Disabilities) of São Paulo. In early 2023, IJC aims to launch a self-advocacy methodology document that can easily be replicated by other organizations and translated into a national self-defence movement. Beyond that, by 2025 the IJC wants to use the tool to support a designated person to lead a movement of self-advocates in the entire Latin America region.