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Voices Of Individuals: Collectively Exploring Self-determination


The right to make one’s own decisions and to have these decisions respected by law is a basic human freedom which most adults take for granted. However, for many people with disabilities (especially people with intellectual, psycho-social and other cognitive disabilities) this fundamental right has been denied – informally, in the private sphere, and formally, in the public sphere through States’ laws and policies.

Since the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there is an emerging consensus in human rights discourse that all people, regardless of their decision-making skills, should enjoy ‘legal capacity’ on an equal basis—that is, the right to be recognised as a person before the law and the subsequent right to have one’s decisions legally recognised. To date most of the literature on how this right should be realised has been developed by non-disabled scholars without the direct input of people with disabilities themselves.

The VOICES project will take a radical approach to develop new law reform ideas based on this concept of ‘universal legal capacity.’ Its primary objective is to develop reform proposals based on the lived experience of disability. The project will support individuals who self-identify as disabled to develop personal narratives about their experiences in exercising, or being denied, legal capacity. Through a collaborative process, legal and social science scholars will then work with people with disabilities to develop their personal narratives to frame and ground concrete proposals for law reform in previously unexplored areas – including consent to sex, contractual capacity, criminal responsibility and consent to medical treatment. In this way, the legitimacy of people with disabilities’ perspectives on the options for law reform will be validated, and this will create a powerful argument for legal change.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 891 386,00
H91 Galway

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Ireland Northern and Western West
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 891 386,00

Beneficiaries (1)