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In Armenia, the disability community and local authorities are advocating for disability-led Personal Assistant Services (PAS), and influencing rights-based amendments to current policy.

Two Independent Living Resource Centers (ILRCs) in Armenia are mobilizing their community to influence policy, change public opinion, and empower Armenians with disabilities to live independently and advocate for their rights.

In 2023, the government of Armenia made revisions to the draft Personal Assistant Services (PAS) decree that reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of Independent Living (IL). These revisions also failed to require disability leadership in the implementation of the new PAS system.

With support from MIUSA, Agate and EREO, both Armenian Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) led by disabled women, took action. Advocacy and media campaigns featured billboards posted throughout the country, highlighting active disabled community members. The billboards displayed the statements “People with disabilities leading the Independent Living Centers and Independent Living Movement,” and “Empowering each other to be independent.”

Billboard with Armenian text and an image of a blind woman walking with a white cane next to another women riding a power wheelchair.
Photo: One of the billboards installed in Armenia, depicting an empowering photo of two disabled women in the community together. The Armenian text reads: “People with disabilities leading the Independent Living Centers and Independent Living Movement.”

Agate also produced a video in celebration of International Human Rights Day, countering misinformation about the ILRCs. They posted this video through social media with Armenian captions and Sign Language Interpretation.

Technical Visit to Armenia

In November 2023, Agate and EREO hosted a technical team from the U.S. and the European Union, led by MIUSA, to support Armenian disability leaders and local authorities to advocate for amendments to the PAS decree that incorporate international best practices. The technical team also conducted high level meetings and a roundtable with government officials, UN agencies, and members of Parliament.

Technical experts included Jessica Lehman, Disability & Aging Consultant, Ines Bulić Cojocariu, Director of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), and Kamil Goungor, Policy and Movement Support Officer of ENIL.

As a direct outcome of these activities, the government of Armenia made rights-based amendments to the PAS decree, and community members with disabilities are now taking their rightful place in society.

Training participant:

“It was my first time to go out and to be somewhere alone without my family. I had a goal to participate alone in this training and to be independent and I did it! Now I believe that I can!” 

Agate staff:

Thanks to the virtual technical assistance calls [with MIUSA and PAS experts], we got knowledge on the best PAS models in the US and Europe and were able to develop recommendations for the new draft Decree on the PAS provision in Armenia. Three of the recommendations by “Agate” were accepted fully, two were accepted partially. This is a great success and victory for the whole disability rights community in Armenia.” 

EREO staff:

“During regional training, many participants expressed that this was the first time that they participated independently in trainings, especially far from their home. The participation in the regional trainings empowered them and they became convinced that their independent life is in their hands and how they can reach to their independent lives.” 

Learn more about the establishment of the ILRCs in Armenia here.

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