A contract was signed with STIL, the Stockholm Cooperative for Independent Living contracting the Institute to set up, start and maintain web pages for STIL of 3 MB until June 30, 1996.
The Institute registered its internet domain name "independentliving.org" and started its website. The purpose was to test the internet for dissemination of materials on Independent Living with the long-term goal of gradually building up an online library with discussion groups and other interactive services such as a bulletin board. Materials are to be solicited from individuals and organizations and mounted on the website.
Outside financing will be sought for the project. Until funds have been secured, the Institute will finance the project on a limited scale, primarily through volunteer work of its director.
As a long-run goal partial financing of the website through advertizers/sponsors will be sought which requires that the site will attract a sufficient number of daily visitors.
The Institute's annual meeting was held in Stockholm during the joint ENIL/HORIZON seminar which all Institute board members attended.
Adolf Ratzka was invited to give a presentation on Independent Living at the conference of Disability Rights Advocates in Budapest but was unable to attend due to conflicting dates. The text of his presentation was read by somebody else.
The Institute was put on the shortlist for a EU PHARE project and was invited to compete with 5 European organizations, companies and universities.
The project amount is 300,000 ECU with a project period of 12 months ending in November 1997. The project consists of 3 parts:
1) Training staff at three "Re-integration Centers" in needs assessment for personal assistance, assistive devices, housing adaptation, transportation;
2) Starting up a pilot project on personal assistance with direct payments to participating assistance users (The Institute´s interpretation. The original Terms of Reference specify a traditional home helper system.)
3) Starting up an integrated taxi system with vehicles that are accessible to the general public including wheelchair users. (The Institute´s interpretation. The original Terms of Reference specify a traditional paratransit system.)
The Institute was visited by a group of lawyers from Japan who were in Sweden to study human rights issues in the disability area.
The Institute submitted its Technical Proposal to the Slovak Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs.
Outline of the Institute´s project plan
For project part 1 the Institute will hire an Occupational Therapist for certain defined tasks on a person-day basis. Other staff will be Slovak experts such as interpreters and translators as well some medical doctors as specified in the Terms of Reference. This part also includes the procurement and installation of office equipment for the Re-integration Centers. The services of a local technical expert will be utilized for this purpose.
For project part 2 the Institute's task is to gather a number of assistance users and assist them in forming an association with board, bylaws, director and accountant. The association will function as the employer of the assistants. In addition, the Institute will design an appropriate organizational system that complies with Slovak tax and labor laws; develop routines for payment, monitoring and reporting money flows, train participants in running the cooperative and in becoming efficient supervisors of their assistants. The Institute's staff for this part will consist of Adolf Ratzka and Slovak experts such as interpreters, translators, lawyers and other consultants who will be hired on an hourly basis.
Project part 3 involves purchasing and importing suitable mini busses; negotiating contracts with participating taxi operators who will lease the cars and use them in their regular operations; finding a suitable organization of disabled persons that is to be the owner of the vehicles, leases the cars to the taxi companies and administers the subsidy scheme. The subsidy scheme receives its income from the leasing fees for the cars. The NGO will translate the income into coupons to be distributed to a number of disabled project participants who can use them for taxi rides at reduced cost.
Adolf Ratzka was invited by Liberales Forum, Vienna to present a paper on direct payments and Independent Living at the Liberal Party's hearing on direct payments for personal assistance.
The Institute was visited by a group of social work and special eduation students and instructors from Austria.
The Institute´s Director was invited by the Portugese Association for Spina Bifida to give a keynote presentation on Independent Living at their congress in Estoril, Portugal. Adolf Ratzka was unable to attended due to conflicting dates and the text of his presentation was read by somebody else.
The Institute was notified by the Slovak Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs that it had won the contract.
Adolf Ratzka was invited by Nämnden för Vårdartjänst, Stockholm to present a paper on Independent Living and personal assistance at their international seminar for their Thematic Group within HELIOS.
Adolf Ratzka was invited by "Integration Österreich", Vienna to give a keynote address on the principles of Independent Living at their conference which was to be the beginning of the Austrian campaign for national anti-discrimination legislation.
The contract was signed by the Institute and the PHARE Department of the Ministry of Labor, Family and Social Affairs in Bratislava on November 4, 1996.
In the beginning of November the Institute's director participated in a national two-day conference in Slovakia on Independent Living and personal assistance. His contributions consisted of giving the keynote address and leading a workshop. The event was followed by a series of deliberations with relevant staff of the Ministry, interviews of prospective staff members applying for positions in the Institute's projects and a series of meetings with prospective participants in the pilot project for personal assistance and training sessions on how to form a user cooperative and become an effective employer of one's assistants.
Independent Living Institute