Persons with intellectual disabilities becoming self-advocates in politics
- A self and collective advocacy and leadership development programme for people with Intellectual Disabilities
- Beit Issie Shapiro
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- Start Year
- First published
“We might have intellectual disabilities, but we still have our own say.” Shai Asulin, Self-advocate
In 2011 Beit Issie Shapiro (BIS), a large NGO based in Israel, developed a consulting and training programme together with Israel Elwyn, another Israeli NGO, with the focus on persons with intellectual disabilities. The process involves 12 groups across the country that inform themselves on current issues through facilitators and that practice self- and collective advocacy with local and national policy makers. Between 2011 and 2022 the number of participants has grown from 20 to 150 self-advocates, and the Israeli government regularly requests the input of the programme’s self-advocates.
There are few opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities to develop self-advocacy skills or to provide input to the legislative processes and policy-making.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Participants in the Beit Issie Shapiro (BIS) consulting and training programme join a group of fellow self-advocates, all of whom are elected by their peers. Each group has a facilitator who has been trained by BIS, and who presents legal and policy discussions in a way that is easy to understand. The programme is led by a team from BIS and Elwyn Israel, another Israeli NGO. Due to the national group’s activities, in 2016 an amendment to the Legal Capacity and Guardianship Law was passed by the Israeli Parliament’s Ministerial Legislative Committee. As the group is working on the formulation of the new law’s regulations, it is also in touch with sheltered living agencies to ensure that they are aware of and respect the right of people with intellectual disabilities to make decisions pertaining to their own lives. The Government of Israel now regularly requests the input of the programme’s self-advocates to their processes, including through the national intra-ministry committee, which acts as a focal point between all Israeli ministries.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
In 2019 and 2020 the total budget of the programme was $105,000, coming from Rehabilitation International as well as private donors. The programme is on a national expansion track seeking to add new members. In order to facilitate this process and encourage replication, BIS has developed courses that assist persons with intellectual disabilities to construct a positive self-identity and to provide them with tools to self-advocate. A handbook is to be published in the near future, which will document all these good practices that continue to be shared by BIS at international conferences and via its global partnership network.