NUIG research seeks to record life-decision making experiences of young people with a disability

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Galway Daily news NUIG research seeks to record life-decision making experiences of young people with a disability

New research at NUI Galway is seeking to better understand the experiences of young people with a disability when it comes to exercising their right to make their own life decisions.

It’s My Life! is seeking to recruit people aged 15 to 20 with a physical, sensory, intellectual or learning disability, neurodiversity or those with experience of the mental health system.

The researcher would like young people with disabilities to answer questions about a good experience of decision making as well as a bad experience of decision making, or a time they didn’t feel listened to and what helps them to make decisions.

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which was ratified by Ireland in 2018, says that states must recognise that people with a disability have the same legal rights and capacity as others.

States must also provide supports to assist them in exercising their legal capacity, and that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity must “respect the rights, will and preferences of the person”.

Ireland will have to submit a report to the UN Committee monitoring compliance with the Convention in the coming year.

It’s My Life! is being undertaken by PhD candidate Clíona de Bhailís from NUIG’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy.

She would like young people with disabilities to answer questions about a good experience of decision making as well as a bad experience of decision making, or a time they didn’t feel listened to and what helps them to make decisions.

“Decision making for adults with disabilities has come under increased focus in recent years with a number of very important research projects and law reform initiatives taking place,” Ms de Bhailís said.

But decision making skills don’t “magically appear” when someone turns 18, she added. Rather they develop over time when people are given the opportunity to make their own decisions.

“Young people should have a say on issues that affect them and this project is designed to hear directly from young people with disabilities about their experiences.”

It is hoped that better understanding how young people make use of existing supports can influence policy and law on the subject.

“It should also help to look at how we might apply the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act to people at a younger age in the future.”

The format of the project has been changed in light of COVID-19 so that young people can now carry out the survey online.