Thursday, March 5, 2009

The 3rd National Self Advocacy Conference

Event: 3rd National Self Advocacy Conference
Date: 16th – 19th February 2009
Venue: YMCA Penang
Organizers: Asia Community Service and Mutiara Voice Self Advocacy Club



People with disabilities, in particular those with intellectual disabilities, are often powerless members of society. In Malaysia, we face prejudice, discrimination and barriers in:

- Enjoying equal protection of the law;
- Accessing quality and affordable health care services;
- Accessing quality education at all levels;
- Receiving training that leads to gainful employment and income generation;
- Living and participating in the community, including sports, recreational,cultural, leisure and travel activities;
- Enjoying family life;
- Enjoying an adequate standard of living;
- Accessing essential or useful information;
- Speaking for ourselves and being heard.

WE, persons with intellectual disabilities, family members and supporting friends, want to tell people about our lives, our hopes, our needs, our rights.

· Just because we are slow does not mean that we cannot think, speak or make decisions for ourselves.
· We are human beings and many of us have unique things to contribute. Friendships and relationships are important to us too.
· We want the opportunity to live independently and enjoy life in a dignified manner. Respect us and care for us like you would want to be cared for.
· As citizens of this country, we want to be included and be valued members of the society.

To make our lives better, we need our community’s support, not their pity. We ask, in particular, that the Government:-

a) ratify the UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as soon as possible. The Convention says that people with intellectual disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. We are not asking for any extra rights - we just want to enjoy the same rights as our fellow citizens.
b) allow us to go to school and learn alongside our friends in the neighbourhood. We do not want segregated education. We want to be a part of our local community.
c) provide good services for babies who are developmentally delayed from birth so that they can achieve faster development.
d) work together with everybody (our families, local community, government, NGOs, private sector) to

1. understand self-advocacy and support us as we speak out for ourselves.
2. provide us with leadership training and supports so that we can do our best.
3. consult us and our families when you need to make a decision that will affect us.
4. promote positive images and our abilities on television, radio, newspapers and on the internet.
5. train service providers so that they can give us the best quality support.
6. find us jobs in good workplaces in the community by supporting us where needed.
7. provide us with medical and life insurance policies for our future.
8. help us to get around in the community by using public transport and use community facilities such as banks, post offices, libraries etc.
9. ensure that public services, announcement and information that we need are done in a simple or visual manner so that we can understand.
10. give us the same opportunities as others to live and enjoy life in our community. Assist us with funding, supports and good choices to make it happen.

Resource Documents
Robert Martin, Chairperson, Taskforce on Self Advocacy. What the Convention means for those of us with an intellectual disability.
Shanghai Recommendations on the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families in Asia and the Pacific, 13 October 2007.

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