Table 2:  Disability and the right to live independently and be included in the community (community living)

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Persons with disabilities who are institutionalized.
  • Dedication of resources to the reconstruction of large residential institutions.
  • Lack of resources and services to help persons with disabilities live within their communities.
  • A child is placed in an institution because she is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and her parents are told that there is no support available to help them raise her at home.
  • A young man with intellectual disabilities is admitted to a social care home far from his home because his mother has become ill and can no longer look after him without some help.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRPD 19 States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

(a) Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;

(b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;

(c) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.

CRPD: recommending that Spain ensure an adequate level of funding is made available to effectively enable persons with disabilities to: enjoy the freedom to choose their residence on an equal basis with others; access a full range of in-home, residential and other community services for daily life, including personal assistance; and enjoy reasonable accommodation so as to better integrate into their communities. CRPD/C/ESP/CO/1 (2011).

CRPD: encouraging Spain to expand resources for personal assistants to all persons with disabilities in accordance with their requirements.  CRPD/C/ESP/CO/1 (2011).

CRPD:  recommending that Argentina “implement the deinstitutionalization strategies that it has adopted in an effective manner and to develop and implement mental health plans based on the human rights model of disability, along with effective measures to promote the deinstitutionalization of persons with disabilities.” CRPD/C/ARG/CO/1 (CRPD, 2012)

CRPD: calling upon Hungary “to ensure that an adequate level of funding is made available to effectively enable persons with disabilities to: enjoy the freedom to choose their residence on an equal basis with others; access a full range of in-home, residential and other community services for daily life, including personal assistance; and enjoy reasonable accommodation with a view to supporting their inclusion in their local communities.” CRPD/C/HUN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD: calling upon Hungary to take appropriate measures to enable men and women with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and found a family, as well as to provide adequate support services to men and women, boys and girls with disabilities to enable them to live with their families, with a view to prevent and reduce the risk of placement in an institution. CRPD/C/HUN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD: calling upon Hungary to undertake greater efforts to make available the necessary professional and financial resources, especially at the local level, to promote and expand community-based rehabilitation and other services in their respective local communities to children with disabilities and their families, in order to enable children with disabilities to live with their families, as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/HUN/CO/2).  CRPD/C/HUN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD:  recommending that China take immediate steps to phase out and eliminate institutional-based care for people with disabilities. Further, the Committee recommends China to consult with organisations of persons with disabilities on developing support services for persons with disabilities to live independently in accordance with their own choice.  Support services should also be provided to persons with a high level of support needs. CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD: recommending that China develop a wide range of community-based services and supports that respond to needs expressed by persons with disabilities, and respect the person’s autonomy, choices, dignity and privacy, including peer support and other alternatives to the medical model of mental health.  CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD:  urging Peru to initiate comprehensive programmes to enable persons with disabilities to access a whole range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community, especially in rural areas.  CRPD/C/PER/CO/1 (2012).

CRC 23 (1) States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.  CRC General Comment No. 7: explaining that “[e]arly childhood is the period during which disabilities are usually identified and the impact on children’s wellbeing and development recognized.  Young children should never be institutionalized solely on the grounds of disability. It is a priority to ensure that they have equal opportunities to participate fully in education and community life, including by the removal of barriers that impede the realization of their rights. Young disabled children are entitled to appropriate specialist assistance, including support for their parents (or other caregivers). Disabled children should at all times be treated with dignity and in ways that encourage their self-reliance.”   CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1 (2006), para. 36(d).

CRC Committee:  recommending that Australia “Take measures to de-institutionalize children with disabilities and further strengthen support to families to enable them to live with their parents.” CRC/C/AUT/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012).

CRC Committee: recommending that Egypt “[s]trengthen the availability and accessibility of community-based educational and health services for children with disabilities, in particular by strengthening inclusive education which promotes the child’s self-reliance and active participation in the community in line with article 23, paragraph 1 of the Convention.”  CRC/C/EGY/CO/3-4
(CRC, 2011).

CRC Committee: recommending that the Czech Republic implement of measures to provide alternatives to the institutionalization of disabled and for the strengthening of community-based programmes to enable them to stay at home with their families in. CRC/C/15/ADD.201 (CRC, 2003), para. 49.

CRC Committee: recommending that Hungary implement community-based rehabilitation programmes, including parent support groups, to avoid the marginalization and exclusion of disabled children and children with disabled parents. CRC/C/HUN/CO/2 (CRC, 2006), para. 40.

Other Interpretations 

The UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 1993: “Persons with disabilities are members of society and have the right to remain within their local communities. They should receive the support they need within the ordinary structures of health, employment and social services.”

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: “The right to live in the community applies to all people with disabilities. No matter how intensive the support needs, everyone, without exception, has the right and deserves to be included and provided with opportunities to participate in community life. Time and again it has been demonstrated that people who were deemed too ‘disabled’ to benefit from community inclusion thrive in an environment where they are valued, where they partake in the everyday life of their surrounding community, where their autonomy is nurtured and they are given choices.” (CommDH/IssuePaper(2012)3).

Council of Europe, Recommendation (2006) 5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the Council of Europe Action Plan to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society: improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in Europe 2006-2015: “People with disabilities should be able to live as indepenzzdently as possible, including being able to choose where and how to live. Opportunities for independent living and social inclusion are first and foremost created by living in the community. Enhancing community living . . .  requires strategic policies which support the move from institutional care to community-based settings . . . .”

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Report of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee: “The practice of placing children and adults with disabilities into institutions undermines their inclusion as they are kept segregated from the rest of society and suffer serious damage to their healthy development and obstruction of the exercise of other rights. Deinstitutionalisation is a prerequisite to enabling people with disabilities to become as independent as possible and take their place as full citizens with the opportunity to access education and employment, and a whole range of other services.” Doc 11694 (August 8, 2008).