Independent Living movement spreads in Asia

Yukiko Nakanishi reports on Independent Living seminars, workshops and exchanges that are helping to spread the philosophy across Asia. Internet publication URL:

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The following article appeared in DISABILITY INTERNATIONAL; Asia-Pacific Region, Vol.11, No. 2 1999. Disabled Peoples' International. 

On 17-20 May, 1998, the first Independent Living seminar in Seoul, Korea was conducted jointly by the Chung Nip polio Center in Korea and Human Care Association of Japan.

The all out support provided by DPI-Korea president Mr. Young Wook Song was very important in realizing the aim to motivate the Center to play an active role in developing IL movement in Korea.

The plenary session including presentation of the concept of an IL movement and the role of the IL center was attended by more than 100 persons with disabilities and staff of disability-related organizations.

During the four-day seminar, focus were on peer counseling and IL skills training for 20 young leaders with disability selected from all over Korea. Four of them were invited to come to Tokyo, Japan for a one week IL training in May this year. As a follow up activity, a lecture tour by the Association staff has been planned for next year.

Meanwhile, the first IL workshop in Malaysia was held in Kuala Lumpur from 28-30 August this year. This was organized by a group of disabled leaders in Malaysia headed by Christine Lee in close coordination with the Asia Disability Institute.

The Human Care Association of Japan sent a peer counselor to assist in the conduct of the activity. Some 14 participating groups in Malaysia took active part in the peer counselling and role playing on IL skill exercises.

As a result of the programs, the participants discussed the possibility of establishing the first IL Center in Malaysia.

The seminar on the "Direction of the IL program in Thailand" was organized on 16-17 August, 1999 by the IL Unit of the Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Center.

Invited as speakers were Sen. Narong Patibatsarakich, regional chairperson of DPI, Mr. Yutaka Takamine, UNESCAP disability expert; and Mr. Shoji Nakanishi, treasurer of the DPI-AP regional council.

The Japan International Development Agency (JICA) plans to build the Asia-Pacific Center on Disability in Bangkok, Thailand in 2002.

Details of the project are still being discussed between the Thai and the Japanese governments.

With the proposal submitted by the DPI-AP executive to JICA, which in turn passed the proposal to its staff, it is the hope of disabled persons that they be included as early as in the planning stage so they can share their inputs.