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On an international level, a movement by parents was also taking place in England, France, Australia, New Zealand, and the Scandinavian countries. As Gunnar Dybwad noted, "Spontaneously, we had a worldwide revolution without really knowing what started it. They all said at the same time 'enough is enough'. And yet there was not one leader, not one movie or book, not one happening that affected everyone. In various countries, it started in various ways." By the end of the 1950s, there was the beginning of an international parents' movement.

In 1960, the European League of Societies for the Mentally Handicapped was formed and became the Inter-national League of Societies for the Mentally Handicapped (lLSMP) in 1961. The ILSMP, now called Inclusion International, includes representatives of parent groups, professional organizations, and other individuals "anxious to advance the interests of the mentally handicapped without regard to nationality, race, or creed." Inclusion International works to improve the quality of services through the exchange of information and experts among countries.

A growing recognition of the rights of people who are mentally retarded led to further reform and program development at an international level. Many professional organizations adopted a statement of rights but the most significant statement was entitled the "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons." This declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1975.

United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons

General Assembly Resolution 3447 (XXX) Adopted December 9, 1975. The Declaration enumerates the following rights:

  • The term "disabled person" means any person unable to ensure by himself or herself wholly or partly the necessities of a normal individual and/or social life, as a result of a deficiency, either congenital or not, in his or her physical or mental capabilities.
  • Disabled persons shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. These rights shall be granted to all disabled persons without any exception whatsoever and without distinction or discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, state of wealth, birth, and any other situation applying either to the disabled person himself or herself or to his or her family.
  • Disabled persons have the inherent right to respect for their human dignity. Disabled persons, whatever the origin, nature, and seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities, have the same fundamental rights as their fellow-citizens of the same age, which implies first and foremost the right to enjoy a decent life, as normal and full as possible.
  • Disabled persons have the same civil and political rights as other human beings; article 7 of the Declaration of the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons applies to any possible limitation or suppression of those rights for mentally disabled persons.
  • Disabled persons are entitled to measures designed to enable them to become as self-reliant as possible.
  • Disabled persons have the right to medical, psychological, and functional treatment, including prosthetic and other appliances, to medical and social rehabilitation, education, vocational education, training and rehabilitation, aid, counseling, placement services and other services which will enable them to develop their capabilities and skills to the maximum and will hasten the process of their social integration or reintegration.
  • Disabled persons have the right to economic and social security and to a decent living. They have the right, according to their capabilities, to secure and retain employment or to engage in a useful, productive and remunerative occupation and to join trade unions.
  • Disabled persons are entitled to have their special needs taken into consideration at all stages of economic and social planning.
  • Disabled persons have the right to live with their families or with foster parents and to participation in all social, creative or recreational activities. No disabled person shall be subjected, as far as his or her residence is concerned, to differential treatment other than that required by his or her condition or by the improvement which he or she may derive therefrom. If the stay of a disabled person in a specialized establishment is indispensable, the environment and living conditions therein shall be as close as possible to those of the normal life of a person of his or her age.
  • Disabled persons shall be protected against all exploitation, all regulations and all treatment of a discriminatory, abusive, or degrading nature.
  • Disabled persons shall be able to avail themselves of qualified legal aid when such aid proves indispensable for the protection of their persons and property. If judicial proceedings are instituted against them, the legal procedure applied shall take their physical and mental condition fully into account.
  • Organizations of disabled persons may be usefully consulted in all matters regarding the rights of disabled persons.
  • Disabled persons, their families and communities shall be fully informed, by all appropriate means, of the rights contained in this Declaration.