Guttmann Barcelona Life's main objective is to provide people with disabilities with accessible flats that include personalised support services. These flats promote and facilitate the development of independent living and aim to promote the participation of their residents in society in a community setting.


In 2019, the Institut Guttmann promoted the new Support for Independent Living Plan, which focuses a large part of its activity on the Guttmann Barcelona Life flats. 

 Guttmann Barcelona Life Support for Independent Living Plan 

The mission of the Support for Independent Living Plan is to promote the philosophy of Independent Living (VI) among people with disabilities, their immediate environment and the professionals who work with them, as well as to support those people who are interested in this lifestyle in order to put it into practice. In this way, the aim is to promote and consolidate the empowerment and self-determination of people with disabilities.

Guttmann Barcelona Life’s Support for Independent Living Plan publicises and facilitates the implementation of the independent living philosophy among its users.

The philosophy of independent living emphasises that every person with a disability is a unique individual who has the right to pursue a particular life project that must be respected and promoted. For this reason, with this Plan, we support, on an individual basis, those who wish to do so in their transition process towards a life project based on the philosophy of independent living.

At the same time, we encourage people with disabilities to know and have available the support they need to empower themselves and develop their own life project by collaborating with associations of people with disabilities, other community resources and peer support.

 A little history of the Independent Living Movement (ILM)

The philosophy of Independent Living was born with the disability activist Ed Roberts, who in 1972 promoted the first Centre for Independent Living in Berkeley (California) with the help of other activists such as Judit E. Neumann. The fact that Ed Roberts had a disability is important because it points to an important feature of this philosophy: while  health professionals and family members had hitherto been at the forefront of the lives of people with disabilities, the motto of the ILM became: "Nothing about us without us”. Since then, this philosophy has spread to other countries. It was discussed in Spain for the first time at the beginning of the 21st century.

 Principles of the Philosophy of Independent Living

The philosophy of independent living focuses on the empowerment of people with disabilities as a means to enable them to self-determine their own life project, so that they do not have to live according to what others have decided for them.

Although each particular context has taken ownership of this new way of understanding disability, according to the founder of the UK's National Centre for Independent Living, Frances Hasler (2003), this approach proposes that every person has:


                    Equal value

                    The ability to make decisions, and must have the possibility to do so

                    Has the right to exercise control over one’s own life

                    Has the right to participate in all political, economic and cultural activities in the community.


"Empowerment is the process by which individuals, groups and communities become empowered to control their circumstances and achieve their own goals, striving to maximize the quality of their lives.

Powell (1990)

Therefore, from this perspective, the ability to self-determine is not a personal attribute that works as a starting point for making decisions. Instead, it is the result of a process of reflection on one's position as a subject of rights and duties, as well as the result  of a network of resources that will allow the person to effectively decide their course of action and exercise their right to participate in society.

However, the choice of this lifestyle is not always easy: making decisions implies having responsibilities, taking risks and managing their consequences. It is even more difficult for a large number of people with disabilities who, because of individual models of disability, have never made decisions or have stopped doing so a long time ago. Moreover, achieving independent living requires resources to which people with disabilities are entitled, but the social environment does not currently facilitate them. An example of this is the right to live independently in the community, recognised by Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been obligatory in Spain since 2008.

Objectives of the Support for Independent Living Plan

 •             Promoting the empowerment of people: promoting reflection so that they acquire knowledge and become involved in defining and promoting social transformations aimed at reversing their situation of rights violations.

 •             Promote self-determination, in the sense that people make their decisions based on their values, and not according to the values of other people in the environment or the discriminatory practices of a non-inclusive physical and social environment.

 •             To guide the self-management of the support resources for Independent Living that each person considers necessary.

 •             To support people in the self-management of personal relationships (family and direct environment) in the process of achieving independent living.

 •             To promote peer support through Peer Support Groups or mutual help to facilitate empowerment; mainly through the associations of people with disabilities themselves.

 •             To promote social participation in the areas of training, employment, associations, politics, leisure, etc.


Activities of the Guttmann Barcelona Life Independent Living Support Plan

Training and empowerment programme

 This entails organising sessions in the form of talks or  practical training to address different issues related to the philosophy of Independent Living.

 Personalised support

 This is based on a series of meetings involving the independent living peer mentor and the user. In these meetings, they will carry out a process of shared reflection on the principles of the philosophy of independent living and its implementation. This process will be based on the guide "PERSONAL PLAN FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING", and its main aim will be:


                    To generate awareness and empower the person on certain areas he or she may not have considered, be it because of the influence of paternalistic and ableist views of disability, or because he or she puts such reflection off until an alleged physical recovery takes place.

                    Support for philosophical reflection on the rights and inherent dignity of the human being, on one's position in society and regarding  society's institutions and other people.

                    Advice on community resources that promote independent living information on the social activities of the Institut Guttmann.