- September 24, 2021

Adolf Ratzka knows firsthand how to build a rich and rewarding life. As a founder of the European Network for Independent Living, his work defending our right to live independently in the community is well-known in the disability movement for decades.

At the age of 77, his work is taking on new depth as he contemplates the risks of ageism, as he explained at a recent event on ageism on the sidelines of the 48th meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons made statements, and older people from every region of the world shared their experiences. Ratzka shared how since moving out of institutions in 1966, he has had a “a rich and rewarding life, thanks to personal assistance,” having a family and a career.

“I worry about having to move back to an institution, because a government commission recently suggested stopping payments [for personal assistance] for those over 65,” he said.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities affirms our right to live independently in the community on an equal basis with others, with things like personal assistance and accessible services in the community. It does not make age distinctions for persons with disabilities in this right. Why would it? As Ratzka puts it, “I’m still the same person! My needs, interests and aspirations have not changed!”

Such suggestions of cutting off our rights should be met with swift rejection. The rights we have fought for throughout our lives, for ourselves and others, do not have an expiration date.

Watch the UN side event here:

See more by

UN System:

In other news