Call for participants – VOICES project

Greetings from maternity leave. Below is a guest post by Eilionoir Flynn, Liz Brosnan and Clíona De Bhailís about the excellent VOICES project at NUI Galway.  It’s an awesome project, so please spread the word.  Eilionoir informs me the deadline for participants has been extended to 21 March, so get your skates on!  

Call for Participants: VOICES project on Legal Capacity Reform

The VOICES project at NUI Galway is looking for participants to attend a workshop in Galway on 27 and 28 April 2016. We want to bring together people with many different experiences to jointly develop proposals for changing the way law and policy currently affects disabled people, older people and people using mental health services or survivors of psychiatry, in a wide range of situations – including the law on consent to medical treatment, contracts, relationships and the criminal justice system.

We are looking for two types of participants – storytellers and respondents. At our April workshop in Galway, storytellers with personal experience of the law will come together with respondents who have a range of personal and professional experience – including human rights activists, policy-makers, researchers and practitioners with an interest in the right to legal capacity. Over the next two years, storytellers will be paired with respondents to develop a narrative of their own lived experience and to collaborate on a proposed way forward for a specific area of law or policy reform. A selection of these stories and responses will be published in an edited collection at the end of the project in 2019.


Do you have a story to tell about how the law has respected or refused to acknowledge your right, as a disabled person, to make decisions in your own life?

We are particularly interested in people with personal experience of the criminal justice system, people whose contractual capacity has been supported or questioned, stories about consent or refusal of medical treatment, and stories about relationships and consent to sex.

Have you ever been found to lack capacity to make a decision for yourself?
If so, we really want to hear your ideas for how the law needs to change to respect the rights of disabled people to make their own decisions.


Do you have personal experience of making decisions that have been respected by the law, or of supporting someone to have their wishes respected by the law?

Are you interested in developing creative solutions to so-called ‘hard questions’? These include how to respect legal capacity in crisis situations, and what the appropriate legal response should be when a person places themselves or others in danger.

We are seeking a wide range of personal and professional expertise from our respondents and welcome expressions of interest from activists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in a wide range of fields, including, but not limited to: law, sociology, politics, anthropology, neuroscience, psychology and economics.

Other ways to get involved

If you’re not sure whether you could commit to a two year process of working one to one with another person, but you have a story to tell, or an idea to contribute, there are lots of different ways to get involved. You can attend one of our events, write a post for our blog, make a video, or create a piece of art to display or perform at one of our workshops or conferences. You could also offer to be a facilitator at one of our workshops, or be a mentor for one of the pairs who will be working together on their stories and responses.

Our project has funding from the European Research Council to cover the travel and accommodation expenses of participants at our events. If you would like to attend, please check out our website for more information. All those interested in attending the April workshop in Galway must fill out the relevant application form (available here) and send it to by 21 March.

The purpose of the VOICES project is to look at how people are treated by the legal system when they want to make their own decisions – known as ‘legal capacity.’ It means being recognised as a decision-maker by the law and making decisions that the law requires other people to respect. Our project will explore in more detail how to achieve the goal of Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires States to recognise that ‘persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.’ This presents a significant challenge to all countries, including Ireland and the UK, which currently operate systems of ‘substituted decision-making’ or adult guardianship.


2 thoughts on “Call for participants – VOICES project

  1. My brother John is 59 years of age and has Frontal Lobe Dementia. He is in care in England. John is Irish and he has been pleading to come to Ireland for a holiday for almost 4 years but the different people involved in his care will not allow him to have this holiday. I am trying my best to help him and I have applied for legal help but it is all very frustrating and upsetting, especially as John has no contact with his family here in Ireland. My last visit with him almost one year ago was very emotional and distressing because of his pleading to come for this holiday. The people involved in his care state that he does not have capacity to decide about a holiday. This is something I totally disagree with. John has lived in London for almost 35 years and during those years came on holiday to Ireland yearly, sometimes twice yearly. John wishes are not being addressed properly. I feel he is just abandoned in nursing home and nobody is helping him. John is suffering emotionally.

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