Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Home ASA - Mental Handicap "Recognize our rights!", are people with mental disabilities as part of the project 'Rights & Participation' by ASA-Handicap mental in Switzerland Romande.
To go further
ASA - Mental Handicap
  • 2 Ch. Louis-Hubert 1213 Petit-Lancy Switzerland
  • + 41 22 792 48 65
  • Viviane Guerdan

"Recognize our rights!", are people with mental disabilities as part of the project 'Rights & Participation' by ASA-Handicap mental in Switzerland Romande.

  • Inclusion : Accessibility
  • Europe : Switzerland
  • Experience Index Card

From Viviane Guerdan the Oct 09, 2018

Relying on article 4 of the Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, the association ASA - mental disability has implemented a program of training, in language that is easy to read and understand, for people with a mental handicap. The goal is to associate as self-advocates in the process of implementation and follow-up of the Convention by the Swiss authorities.

The context:

The association ASA-Handicap mental

The association ASA Handicap mental, created in 1889, has its headquarters in Geneva. Its members are both professionals and people with a mental disability and those interested in its action. It covers all the French-speaking Switzerland. It's mission is to promote education, teaching and training and the valorisation of the social role and an optimal quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and people with learning difficulties. The association intervenes regardless of the degree of disability and age, people are at home or in an institution.

The International Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities CRPD

The Switzerland has signed and ratified the CRPD (UN 2006) in 2014. By this Act it is committed "to ensure and promote the full enjoyment of all the rights of man and of all the fundamental freedoms of all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind based on disability".

The aims of the project 'rights & Participation '.

Among the founding principles agreement, the participation of people in the process of implementation and follow-up of this instrument is identified as essential.

Often it is a significant gap between legislative provisions or policies on paper and the reality of the people daily. He appeared as needed to supplement the available information held by people with disabilities on their life experiences and their views.

The goal is to train them to their rights to then associate them as self-advocates in the process of implementation and monitoring of the Convention.

Groups of words, one in each canton, were constituted to hear them on their life experiences, obstacles, and make recommendations to policy makers.

The approach

Training groups

To form these groups, a letter was sent to the institutions and associations likely to feel concerned by the project. Demand: delegate each three people with a mental handicap and a professional. The criteria were wide enough: understand a language text easy to read and understand, be able to express themselves orally and agree to participate in a support group. Professionals were invited to participate either as facilitators, sometimes as participatory observers. In 7 townships, about 50 people with mental disabilities and 16 professionals have responded positively.

Sessions and conduct

The sessions were carefully planned and implemented. The content of the sessions, the modalities, the methodology for and the collection arrangements have been defined beforehand.  The sessions have focused on 7 topics: non-discrimination, accessibility, awareness and information, justice and protection, freedom of movement and freedom of choice, of life, active participation, education and health. Each group had to answer 5 questions:

-How do I understand right that is presented?

-Do I have experienced situations or I could exercise this right?

-Is my experience of situations where I could not exercise that right? What obstacles I've met?

-That what is should have been so that I can exercise this right, what I needed, what I could have done (facilitators)?

-What are my wishes (proposals, recommendations)?

The interviews were conducted from March to December 2015 at a rate of 12 to 17 sessions depending on the canton. Each session was recorded.

Counting and data analysis

The data were processed using a methodology of quantitative analysis. Counting and analysis criteria have been defined based on the text of the CRPD, on the reports of the Committee on the rights of people with disabilities at the United Nations, referring to two tools of classification: the International Classification of the Functioning disability and health (who, 2001) and the process of disablement (INDCP, 1998). These various repositories enabled to break down rights in units of analysis, on the other hand to define categories of obstacles and limiting environmental facilitators, or rather promoting the exercise of the rights.


The results are recorded in a searchable book on mental disability ASA website (

The analysis found that most of the situations are evidence of a respect for the rights of people. But often there are still obstacles. They consist of limits to their autonomy, freedom of choice, their participation in decisions and life in society on par with others, their access to information and to the products, equipment, programs and services of the community; interfere sometimes discriminatory or vexatious, attitudes of prejudice.

Facilitators and measures to be taken

Self-advocates have demonstrated a wealth of ideas, making recommendations in the following areas: the bodies and mechanisms for monitoring the application of laws; social and individual representations the legislation; products, equipment, programs and services providing services in various sectors of society; training and awareness of the public, professionals and politicians; the support provided by the professionals, the entourage, associations; the consultation active persons with disabilities; the training of people with disabilities.

It is now for the federal and cantonal governments to take account of the suggestions to set a disability policy respecting the right of disabled people to be "consulted closely".

Evaluation of the approach

A questionnaire distributed to all participants helped raise opinions on some topics such as: the why of their participation; how they had lived the sessions; what they had brought to them; the importance of knowing the rights; improvements and ASA-disability-mental expectations.

On the side of self-advocates the approach: greater awareness of the rights; the discovery that others feel and live the same; greater acceptance of its limits and its difference.

On the side of professionals: a change in gaze focused on the skills of people with a mental disability; increased motivation to defend their participation within the institutions; a willingness to contribute to the process of emancipation of revisiting its practices, etc.

ASA-Handicap expectations are essentially their wish that the work has a concrete impact.

At the heart of the word

People are revealed as being able to testify their realities of life and to make recommendations for a disability policy adapted to their needs.

To politicians, it is asked a Copernican, consisting of revolution to consider people with a mental handicap as of fundamental stakeholders for the development and implementation of laws.

Professionals in the field, it is required to use practices that allow people to discover and develop their skills in defending their rights and encourage them to make their voices heard.

Source: article by Viviane Guerdan, President of SAS-handicap mental,

published in Pages Romandes N ° 3 September 2016,

Canonical language : French
Add comment

You can add a comment by filling out the form below. Plain text formatting. Web and email addresses are transformed into clickable links. Comments are moderated.

Question: 15 - 5 = ?
Your answer: