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  • Writer's pictureJuan Pablo Culasso

Nothing for us without us

"Nothing for us without us" (Latin: Nihil de nobis, sine nobis) communicates the idea that no one should decide any policy, or strategy, or project, without the full and direct participation of the members of the group or groups affected by that policy, strategy or project.

Although its origin dates back to the early 16th century, this idea began to be used in disability activism during the 1990s. James Charlton says he first heard the term used in talks by South African disability activists Michael Masutha and William Rowland, who in turn had heard the phrase used by an anonymous Eastern European activist at an earlier international conference on the rights of people with disabilities. In 1998, Charlton used the phrase as the title of a book on the rights of people with disabilities, just as disability rights activist David Werner used the same title for another book.

In 2004, the United Nations used the phrase as the slogan for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and it is also associated with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Today's world needs a shift towards sustainability. Several of the Sustainable Development Goals speak of the need to improve the quality of life for all. Specifically, SDG 10, Reducing Inequalities, counts as one of the fundamental pillars of change towards a more inclusive society. In virtually all areas, from health to the economy, from security to social protection, it is necessary to work for vulnerable populations, especially in developing countries, and people with disabilities are particularly at risk of being excluded in such contexts.

For these changes to be effective and lasting in the long term, it is necessary to have the full and direct participation of people, in this case with visual impairment, included in all projects, strategies and policies for accessibility and inclusion. This is what really helps to break down attitudinal barriers, to develop adequate and properly tested infrastructure, to promote the use of technology, to promote access to education, to have more job opportunities, and so on.

This is why all my actions have accessibility and inclusion as a common denominator.

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