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A Better Future for People with Disability: The National Trust, The Hans Foundation, and Keystone Institute India host India’s first ever Social Role Valorization summit

Members of the National Trust, The Hans Foundation and Keystone Institute India pose for group photo

New Delhi, India (August 26, 2016) -- This week, Keystone Institute India, in partnership with the National Trust1 and The Hans Foundation, conducted an intensive three-day Social Role Valorization course for the first time ever in India. Forty-four participants, all established and emerging leaders in the disability movement, joined from 18 different states across the country, coming together to commit to promoting good possibilities for people with disability to have full, rich, meaningful lives.

This invitational course on the principles of Social Role Valorization was completed in New Delhi this week. Summit participants shared in learning about a major body of thought and practice around issues of critical importance to disability and society. Participants included family members of people with disability, activists, professionals, specialists, advocates, leaders with decades of experience, professionals new to the field, those with lived experience of disability, and those who have built the support systems that exists for families and people with disability. Social Role Valorization faculty and staff for this event included Elizabeth (Betsy) Neuville and Bindu Sengar (Keystone Institute India), Pamela Small Seetoo and Matthew Nguyen (Keystone Institute U.S.), Jane Sherwin (Sherwin & Assoc., Brisbane, Australia), and Sergiu Toma (Keystone Moldova).

The ideas within the theory of Social Role Valorization serve as a high-order framework for understanding and responding to social devaluation amongst all vulnerable people who experience oppression and marginalization. Course graduates have left the summit with a solid framework upon which action will be based to advance the well-being of people experiencing disability, and all have made a commitment to do so. This is a movement to assist people who have lived at the veritable bottom of society to have access to what one might call “the good things of life” – freely-given relationships, citizenship, belonging, and home in its fullest and truest sense.

“Many of the participants have shared that they found this to be an extremely meaningful event with significant and serious implications for their work with vulnerable people,” said Betsy Neuville, director of Keystone Institute India. “I am thrilled that participants are leaving this workshop with new ideas, shifted mindsets, and a sense of urgency about the important work that remains ahead in creating a community where everyone belongs.”

Throughout India and the world, people with disabilities experience a quality of life much below that of typical citizens. Many have been kept apart from their community, either by discrimination or by complete separation in segregated care facilities and institutions. Very few community-based services exist to support people to stay in their communities, and there are limited opportunities for people with disabilities to have true equal access to society.

Keystone Institute India is a newly formed educational institute on disability, community, and innovation, focused on social change for India around disability issues, supported by a grant from The Hans Foundation. Significant international expertise has been directed toward this effort, with a focus on how to design and sustain responsive, individualized services to enable people with disabilities to experience full, rich, meaningful Indian lives. This program is cross-disability in focus, but places particular emphasis in support of people with developmental and psychosocial disability. Keystone maintains an office in New Delhi, but works throughout India.

Stay connected and watch for the announcement of the Keystone Institute India grand opening on November 1, 2016:

1 The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities
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