‘Mapping independent living’ project, based on the principles of action research, aims to investigate the different initiatives of independent living developed in Spain so far. It was carried out -with users, activists and professionals- and has resulted in an interactive map that shows 47 initiatives.
This communication presents the results of ‘Mapping independent living’, a research that aims to investigate in a participatory way the different initiatives of independent living developed in Spain so far. The fieldwork was based on the principles of action research- investigate with and not for- through a process of co-research carried out with users, activists and professionals. From the beginning, the creation of the map has been designed as a flexible process, open for improvisation and discussion with our co-researchers. To select them, we looked for people and/or groups involved in defence of the independent living, taking into account criteria of diversity related to the type of disability. Our methodology had the following phases: literature review; discussion seminars about independent living approaches carried out with the co-researchers; individual interviews with the main informants as well as several individual meetings with them (both online and offline) to discuss the mapping process and to build the survey, the survey administration and an open workshop to discuss and co-analyse the main results.
The research has resulted in an interactive map that shows 47 self-named initiatives of independent living. The map provides evidence to show a rather meagre development of independent living in Spain, territorially unequal and very differentiated depending on the type of disability. Most initiatives (70%) are aimed at people with intellectual disabilities, although there are also a significant number of initiatives for people with physical functional diversity (almost 24%) and, in a smaller number, for people with ASD (6%). Although all initiatives claim to follow the principles of the independent living model, we have found notable differences between the meanings that each initiative gives to the very idea of independent living. The communication analyses the implications of this strong disparity, especially when favouring dynamics of excessive sectorialization, and discusses some of the main economic, legal and cultural obstacles in the development of independent life in Spain. Our objective is also to reflect about the methodological approach, its contributions and its challenges.