Strasbourg Declaration

These eleven Resolutions were the outcome of the first ever European Conference on Independent Living. It was a unique and historical occasion that took place over three days in 1989 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

There were representatives from 14 different countries. Disabled people with experience of independent living from a wide geographical and cultural area attended.

The resolutions that were agreed represent a unanimity of shared experiences. They stand as goals to be achieved for all the countries concerned. A number of the Resolutions have already been achieved in the UK, others still need to be fought for.

Transhouse exists to enable more people with spinal cord injury to realise their true potential as defined within the resolution. It is our intention that more of the resolutions will be realised as the everyday provision of independent living services increases.

Strasbourg Resolutions – Preamble

We, disabled people from the Netherlands, UK, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Austria, Finland, Belgium, USA, Hungary, Federal Republic of Germany and Norway have come together from April 12-14 1989 at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France.

This conference has focused on Personal Assistant Services as an essential factor of Independent Living, which itself encompasses the whole area of human activities, e.g. housing, transport, access, education, employment, economic security and political influence.

We, disabled people, recognising our unique expertise, derived from our experience, must take the initiative in the planning of policies that directly affect us.

To this end we condemn segregation and institutionalisation, which are a direct violation of our human rights, and consider that government must pass legislation that protects the human rights of disabled people, including equalisation of opportunities.

We firmly uphold our basic human right to full and equal participation in society as enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (extended to include disabled people in 1985) and consider that a key pre-requisite to this civil right is through Independent Living and the provision of support services such as personal assistance services for those who need them.

The recommendations of the UN World Programme of Action (paragraph 155) specifically states that “Member States should encourage the provision of support services to enable disabled people to live as independently as possible in the community and in so doing should ensure that persons with a disability have the opportunity to develop and manage these services for themselves.”

Resolution 1 of the 43rd UN General Assembly (1988) reaffirms the validity of the World Programme of Action and Resolution 2 stresses that “special emphasis should be placed on equalisation of opportunities”.

Considering these and similar recommendations from both the European Community and the Council of Europe and to ensure that disabled people within Europe should have parity of equalisation of opportunities, we stress that these objectives must be achieved.

In support of the international movement of disabled people in Disabled Peoples International, which has a special commitment to setting up a network of initiatives for Independent Living as part of the implementation of equalisation of opportunities, we call on governments and policy makers to enforce the following principles:


1. Personal assistance services are a human and civil right which must be provided at no cost to the user. These services shall serve people with all types of disabilities, of all ages, on the basis of functional need, irrespective of personal wealth, income, marital and family status.

2. Personal Assistance users shall be able to choose from a variety of personal assistance service models which together offer the choice of various degrees of user control. User control, in our view, can be exercised by all persons, regardless of their ability to give legally informed consent.

3. Services shall enable the user to participate in every aspect of life such as home, work, school, leisure, travel and political life etc. These services shall enable disabled people, if they so choose, to build up a personal and family life and fulfil all their responsibilities connected with this.

4. These services must be available long term for anything up to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and similarly on a short term or emergency basis. These services shall include assistance with personal bodily functions, communicative, household, mobility, work and other related needs. In the assessment of need the consumers view must be paramount.

5. The funding authority shall ensure that sufficient funds are available to the user for adequate support, counselling, training of the user and of the assistant, if deemed necessary by the user.

6. Funding must include assistants competitive wages and employment benefits, all legal and union required benefits, plus the administrative costs.

7. Funding shall be a legislative right and payment must be guaranteed regardless of funding source or local government arrangements. Funding shall not be treated as disposable/taxable income and shall not make the user ineligible for other statutory benefits or services.

8. The user should be free to appoint as personal assistants whoever s/he choose, including family members.

9. No individual shall be placed in an institutionalised setting because of lack of resources, high costs, sub-standard or non-existent services.

10. There shall be a uniform judicial appeals procedure which is independent of funders, providers and assessors; is effected within a reasonable amount of time and enables the claimant to receive legal aid at the expense of the statutory authority.

11. In furtherance of all the above, disabled people and their organisations must be decisively involved at all levels of policy making including planning, implementation and development.