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Since the organisation was formed in 1985, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People has been committed to, and supported, the Seven Needs of Independent Living. These "Seven Needs" were originally developed by disabled people who were living in residential institutions, and they identify the foundations which disabled people need to be in place in order for us to have the same opportunity to live an independent life and be fully integrated in society. Independence doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything for ourselves; independence means having choice and control. If the following Seven Needs were in place, disabled people would have an equal starting point in society, and will be better able to achieve our potential in employment, education, and have a higher quality of life.

1.Information.

To be able to make informed choices, we need to know what we can choose between. Information needs to be accessible to us, for example, available in audio format, Braille, by British Sign Language video, subtitles, in large print, in symbols, or being told to us by a person.

Why is this important?

It is important that disabled people have access to accessible information as otherwise we can become isolated, uninformed, and segregated from both society and opportunities which are available to us. By ensuring information is produced in accessible formats, disabled people will be able to both be informed and be better able to make their own decisions.

 

2. Peer Support.

Once we have information, we need to meet other disabled people to share knowledge and experience – this is peer support. This can take the form of Disabled People’s Organisations, informal groups, or anywhere where disabled people self-organise.

Why is this important?

As disabled people experience barriers in society, it is important that we are able to support each other and come together as a group of marginalised people to share information, knowledge and experience. This enables both individual support (through gaining support, advice and knowledge) but also collective support in tackling and challenging barriers and obstacles we face, in the hopes of improving our circumstances.

 

3. Housing.

This is a basic need for everyone. For disabled people our housing needs to be accessible to us, and it needs to accommodate our needs. For example, this could include areas such as level access and wider doors, or a walk in shower as opposed to a bath. It is also important that housing is available where we want to live - all new builds should include accessible homes as part of their portfolio.

Why is this important?

Accessible housing in crucial in enabling disabled people to a) live in society, and b) be able to live an inclusive life as part of their local community. It is also important to note that as people become older, they can often experience changes which limit their mobility, which causes their homes to become inaccessible to them. Additionally, anyone can become a disabled person at any point in their lives. As housing currently stands, there are not enough suitable adapted/adaptable homes for disabled people. It makes sense for society as a whole to ensure that suitable, accessible homes are built in the future.

 

4. Equipment, or aids and adaptations.

Equipment, aids and adaptations can enable us to do things without assistance. The following are just some examples of what these aids/adaptations could be: flashing door/smoke alarm; kettle tipper; liquid level indicator; hoist; adaptive computer equipment/software; adjustable height desk.

Why is this important?

Sometimes the barriers/restrictions disabled people face can be easily solved by having access to a suitable adaptation (such as those mentioned above). The impact of having suitable adaptations in place are endless – a greater sense of independence, greater self-esteem, easy access to both home and work environments, and inclusion in leisure activities are just a few. Some of these adaptations also make everyday life much safer for disabled people.

 

5. Personal Assistance.

As often equipment is not the only answer, many disabled people employ someone to assist them. This enables people to be in control of how and when the assistance is given. It also prevents reliance on informal support such as family and friends, or even volunteers. It is important that the disabled person is exercising their choice and control in their own decisions, and not coerced or controlled by the person they are employing. For example, if a disabled person would like to go to the cinema, but their PA thinks it would be better for them to go to the park, the PA should respect the wishes of their employer and assist them in going to the cinema.

Why is this important?

A PA can play an essential role in enabling a disabled person to live a full, integrated life within society. A PA can ensure not only basic provision (e.g. food, cleaning and bathroom assistance) but also access to the wider world, such as various leisure activities, education and employment.
 

6. Accessible transport.

Accessible transport includes: buses, trains, trams, taxis, planes and cars. While some improvements have been made (for example most buses are now wheelchair accessible, and many of the newer buses now have audio and visual cues to let people know when they are at their stop) public transport is still inaccessible to many disabled people.

Why is this important?

Accessible transport is essential for disabled people to be able to leave their homes and lead a full, inclusive life as part of their community, and society as a whole. Without accessible transport, disabled people become isolated, segregated and limited by society’s barriers. Participating in education, leisure activities, living an independent life (carrying out our own shopping, for example) becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, and employment becomes even harder to access from the outset, without a reliable form of transport readily available.

 

7. Accessible environment.

An accessible environment includes the following: roads, paths, buildings, parks, theatres, schools, colleges, train stations, airports, shops, and places to work. Essentially, all areas of society should be designed in a way that disabled people can use them just as easily as non-disabled people. For example, all buildings should be built either with a level entrance, or with both steps and ramps, and all existing buildings should be modified accordingly. It is also important to note that an accessible environment is not limited to the physical, but also includes areas such as communication, for example, sign language, large print, braille etc.

Why is this important?

Without being able to access both their local and national environment, disabled people cannot lead a full and inclusive life. Disabled people are segregated from mainstream activities which are taken for granted by society as a whole. This is a form of discrimination and isolation, which results in disabled people being highly disadvantaged compared to our non-disabled fellow citizens.