‘Self-determination is a birthright’

Delegates heard that professionals keen to promote
self-determination for people with learning difficulties were
becoming interested in “individualised funding”.

Steve Dowson, former director of the UK charity Values into Action,
said this was about more than just handing people money and
amounted to a fundamental shift in the relationship between
citizens with disabilities, government and service providers.

But he told the conference it was important not to confuse
individualised funding and self-determination. “Self-determination
isn’t, and mustn’t be allowed to become, a technology that is owned
by professionals and delivered to citizens with

He added that self-determination was a birthright. He recounted the
story of a young woman called Tina, from California. Because she
was unsteady on her feet and sometimes fell over, professionals
working with her decided she must use a wheelchair.

“You might say – and Tina does say – that her freedom means the
freedom to fall over,” he said.

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