Logo CES

DECIDE – Deficiência e auto-determinação
o desafio da vida independente
  • Foto da secção


DECIDE - Disability and self-determination: the challenge of Independent living in Portugal

DECIDE is researching the living conditions and the social inclusion of disabled people in Portugal in light of already consolidated international proposals under the concept of “independent living”.
This is a 36 months research project (June 2016 – May 2019), and involves an experienced multidisciplinary research team coordinated by Fernando Fontes.

What is “independent living”?
Independent Living means “All disabled people having the same choice, control and freedom as any other citizen  – at home, at work, and as members of the community.”
(Barnes and Mercer, 2006: 33)


Expected results:
DECIDE will assess the possibilities and advantages of a transformation of the living and support conditions of disabled people in Portugal. We will analyze the feasibility and sustainability of "independent living" in our society. We seek thus contribute to an appropriate and informed redefinition of disability policies in Portugal.

  • Foto da secção
  • Foto da secção



DECIDE aims at researching the different living contexts and support alternatives available to disabled people in Portugal, its impacts and opportunities.
The specific objectives guiding this research are:

  1. To assess the resources and disability policies framing disabled people’s adult lives in Portugal.
  2. To identify, understand and expose the failures of service provision that may reinforce disabled people’s social exclusion.
  3. To investigate the costs and benefits of the different types of support available to disabled people in Portugal.
  4. To assess the potential benefits Independent Living can offer to disabled people’s lives.
  5. To examine the efficacy of the specific support mechanisms delivered by the Lisbon Independent Living pilot project, when compared to traditional support services, to combat disabled people’s exclusion and improve disabled people’s choice and control.
  6. To formulate recommendations for policy makers, service providers and organisations to improve disabled people’s choice and control.
  7. To steer public debate about the social exclusion of disabled people.
  8. To reinforce Disability Studies status in the Portuguese Academia.

Study stages:

Stage 1 – State of art - the analysis of relevant publications in the fields of disability studies, disability policies, independent living and project evaluation methodologies.

Stage 2 – Fieldwork: It is structured around 3 analytical strands and uses a multiplicity of methodologies and techniques for collecting data (interviews, focus group, survey, participant observation)

  • Strands 1- Disabled people, life control and autonomy
  • Strand 2 – Disabled people and conventional support
  • Strand 3 – Independent living support

Stage 3 - Data analysis.

Stage 4 - Dissemination of results, production of a documentary film about the situation of people with disabilities in Portugal, preparation and writing the final report.


Project funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the COMPETE 2020 operational program – PTDC/IVC-SOC/6484/2014 - POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016803.

Host institution

Centre for Social Studies (CES) at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Participating Institution

Associação dos Deficientes das Forças Armadas (ADFA)
Associação Portuguesa de Deficientes (APD)
Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (CML)
European Network on Independent Living (ENIL)

  • Foto da secção



Fernando Fontes (PI)
Bruno Sena Martins
Ema Loja
Mónica Lopes
Paula Campos Pinto
Sílvia Portugal 
Joana Pimentel Alves 


DECIDE benefits from the support of renowned national and international experts who provide advice to the team at various stages of the project.

Adolf Ratzka

Adolf Ratzka founded in 1984 the Stockholm Cooperative for Independent Living (STIL). STILL became an international model of user­-led personal assistance services based on direct payment system. He is now Director of the Swedish Independent Living Institute, a policy-maker in the field of disability. Adolf Ratza is also the co­founder of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL).

Alan Roulstone

Alan Roulstone is Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Leeds, UK. Recent and current funded work on disablist hate crime, social inclusion and employment, cooperatives and direct payments, young disabled people and assistive technology and ageing well. Funders include ESRC, Technology Strategy Board, Leverhulme Trust, European Commission and UNESCO. Professor Alan Roulstone has also an extensive expertise in the evaluation of disability policies in England.

Eduardo Jorge

Eduardo Jorge holds a BA has a Social Worker and has been a disability activist in Portugal since the 2000s. He is one of the co- founders of the disability collective (d)Eficientes Indignados – (dis)Able Indignated, and is one of the leading voices and has been at the forefront of the independent living movement in Portugal. He has co­organised and organised several on­line disability collectives and forum, as well as marches, demonstrations and hunger­strikes, in the defense of the right for independent living for disabled people in Portugal.


Ivanova Kapka Panayotova  

President of the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL), Europe's leading Independent Living advocacy organization with an extensive lobbying experience of national governments and European institutions for the implementation of Independent living, inclusion, eradication of disabling barriers, and defense of the human rights of disabled people. She was one of the founders of the Independent Living Movement in Bulgaria in the 1990s and continues to be one of the leaders of the Center for Independent Living (CIL) - Sofia, Bulgaria created in 1995. She has extensive international experience in the defense of human rights as a researcher, consultant, expert, trainer, manager and policy evaluator in different European countries. She has a master's degree in economics and has more than 20 years of experience in counseling and support in the social sector. His research addresses public policies based on human rights, disability and deinstitutionalization through inclusion in community programs, principles and practices of inclusion of people with disabilities. 


Jorge Falcato

Jorge Falcato is an Architect working at the Lisbon Municipality in the area of accessibilities for disabled people and has been a disability activist in Portugal since the 1980’s. He has collaborated with several organizations of disabled people in Portugal. More recently he has co­founded the disability collective (d)Eficientes Indignados – (dis)Able Indignated, and has been one of the voices and leaders of the independent living movement in Portugal. He is the coordinator of the Lisbon Independent Living Pilot Project.


  • Foto da secção


  • Foto da secção
  • Foto da secção



Lei do atendimento prioritário (Decreto-lei nº 58/2016)

Lei da não discriminação (Lei nº 46/2006, de 28 de Agosto)

Regime da acessibilidade aos edifícios e estabelecimentos que recebem público e edifícios habitacionais (decreto lei, nº 163/2006, 8 de Agosto)

Bases gerais do regime jurídico da prevenção, habitação, reabilitação e participação da pessoa com deficiência (Lei nº38/2004, 18 de Agosto).

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Useful links:

  • Foto da secção

    Lúcia quer poder escolher a pessoa que vai entrar na sua vida

  • Foto da secção

    Modelo de vida independente em discussão é "limitado" e "incompleto"



About Independent Living pilot project

"Lúcia quer poder escolher a pessoa que vai entrar na sua vida" (Ana Dias Loureiro)

Público, 1 de março de 2017


"Modelo de vida independente em discussão é “limitado” e “incompleto”" (Samuel Silva)

Público, 1 de março de 2017


"Modelos de apoio à Vida Independente em consulta pública" (Lusa)

Público, 21 de fevereiro de 2017


"Concursos para projectos-piloto para Vida Independente devem abrir no primeiro trimestre" (Lusa)

Público, 28-12-2016


"Entrevista a Ana Sofia Antunes, Secretária de Estado para a Inclusão das pessoas com Deficiência" (Maria Flor Pedroso)

Antena 1, 20-10-2016


"Em Lisboa, o sonho de uma vida independente está a tornar-se realidade" (Inês Boaventura)

Público, 5-5-2016


"Pessoas com deficiência vão poder candidatar-se a fundos para vida independente"  (Lusa)

Público, 30-3-2016


"Chegou a oportunidade pela qual Carina e Madalena esperavam para mudar de vida" (Inês Boaventura)

Público, 22-11-2015


"O que é isso de vida independente?" (Vera Moutinho)

Público, 2-11-2015

  • Foto da secção


Centro de Estudos Sociais (Coimbra)
Colégio de S. Jerónimo
Largo D. Dinis
Apartado 3087
3000-995 Coimbra, Portugal


Tel.: +351 239 855 570
Fax: +351 239 855 589

Fernando Fontes

Joana Pimentel Alves

Centro de Estudos Sociais (Lisboa)
Picoas Plaza
Rua do Viriato 13 - Lj 117/118
1050-227 Lisboa, Portugal


Tel.: +351 216 012 848
Fax: +351 239 855 589