Validity was established in 2002 as a legal advocacy organisation to tackle the generations of isolation, segregation and exclusion faced by people with mental disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe. Originally named the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), today Validity is a thriving network of practitioners, volunteers and partner organisations providing specialist legal support to the disability rights movements in Europe and Africa.
Who are people with mental disabilities?
Validity adopts the social model of disability upon which the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is premised. According to this, we must recognise that people are not simply ‘disabled’ by their impairments, but rather by social, environmental and legal barriers as well as discrimination.
Identities are important and Validity fully respects the rights of everyone to express their identity for themselves.
By “persons with mental disabilities”, Validity primarily means people with intellectual, cognitive, developmental, neurological and/or age-related impairments, or those with learning disabilities; people with psychosocial disabilities, including those who identify as having mental health issues, mental health problems, mental illness, and/or as users, ex-users or future users of mental health services (conventional or traditional), and/or as survivors of psychiatry, fully respecting the concept of neurodiversity; people with multiple, complex and profound disabilities; and those with complex or high support needs, including people with life-threatening or life-limiting health conditions.
What are the issues faced by people with mental disabilities?
While all persons with disabilities face barriers to living their lives, people with mental disabilities often experience specific types of barriers such as:
- Discriminatory laws which deny them the right to make decisions in their lives, to vote, to marry, or even to enter employment;
- Policies of segregation which result in children being placed in separate, segregated educational environments, or even completely denied the right to go to school; and
- Systems of institutionalisation, where they are forced to leave their families and communities.
How does Validity tackle these barriers?
Validity uses strategic litigation, law and policy advocacy, capacity-building, research, community mobilisation, media and a variety of other tools. We are a specialist legal resource to the disability rights movement and act as a watchdog, calling out human rights violations and pushing for change. Validity has a strong track history of expanding disability rights discourse and jurisprudence for over sixteen years. We operate at the global level as well as at domestic and regional levels in Europe and Africa.
Registered in both Hungary and the United Kingdom, our headquarters is in Budapest where most of our staff team is located. We also work closely with an international network of lawyers, organisations of persons with disabilities, human rights activists and other professionals. Our team and partners are passionate about our work and dedicated to using our diverse skills and experience to ensure that we do it well.