Our easy-to-read editor Soufiane El Amrani and Policy Officer Guillaume Jacquinot went to Moscow to meet with our Russian member Perspektiva and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art to raise the awareness on the necessity to make information accessible for people with intellectual disabilities.
On the first day of their meeting, they gave a webinar to Perspektiva’s members and presented our work on easy-to-read and the way we can make all type of information accessible. For example, our accessible newsletter Europe for Us has been introduced to show how written information can be made accessible. Moreover, they explained the way accessibility cards can be used to show how to involve people with intellectual disabilities in meetings, conference and other events. We also discussed with many Perspektiva staff members who talked about many ongoing projects on inclusive education, employment, self-advocates training. They told us for example about their summer camp aiming to improve independent living skills of people with intellectual disabilities.
They went during the same day to the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and met with Russian policy-makers to raise the awareness about easy-to-read and accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities. They had the pleasure to meet Igor Shpitsberg who is member of the Autism Europe’s Council of Administration and was really interested in our work. Most of the discussion focused on the blatant lack of easy-to-read materials in Russia and the lack of interest of the Russian Government on the topic. They were very interested in learning how easy-to-read was used in the other European countries and the importance of the European Accessibility Act in ensuring minimum standards across Europe regarding accessible products and services.
The other 2 days, we took part in a conference organized by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. The conference focused on the experience of Museum for visitors with developmental and learning disabilities. Many interesting topics have been discussed such as the use of augmentative and alternative communication very relevant for people with complex support needs. Also, Australian speakers highlighted their dance troupe experience with Russian people with intellectual disabilities.
We organised at the occasion of this conference two workshops on the way easy-to-read can be used to make museums more accessible for visitors with intellectual disabilities. Our easy to read editor judged the level of accessibility of the easy to read materials created by the participants during the workshops. People have been extremely interested in this type of accessibility that is not well-known in the context of Arts as in many other domains. However, it was challenging to explain easy-to-read to people speaking another language as the complexity of words and their meaning change from a language to another.
Our two colleagues were delighted to meet many different Russian people and from abroad who showed a genuine interest for the inclusion of people with disabilities. Explaining the accessibility was also an opportunity to raise the awareness on the exclusion of people with intellectual disabilities from society in many aspect of their life advocate for a better inclusion in society.