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Executive Department for
Press, Communication and Marketing

Adolf-Reichwein-Straße 2a
Gebäude AVZ (Gebäudeteil AR-NA)
57068 Siegen

Phone:    +49 (0)271/740-4915
Fax.:    +49 (0)271/740-4911
E-Mail:  presse@uni-siegen.de

Making European Communities Fit for Inclusion

Scientists at the University of Siegen are developing training courses in a European cooperation project to make communities fit for the topic of inclusion.

People with disabilities have the right to equal participation in all areas of life. This principle was determined by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. "But these rights do not fall from the sky just because a convention dictates them," says Professor Dr. Johannes Schädler from the Center for Planning and Evaluation of Social Services (ZPE) at the University of Siegen. Administrations at federal, state and municipal level are working to implement the convention. "The necessary changes have led to great uncertainty among local authorities, as well as facilities and services," explains Schädler. In order to eliminate these uncertainties and to make those responsible fit for the subject of inclusion, the University of Siegen is developing a Europe-wide advanced training program for municipalities. The scientists from Siegen are coordinating the project with eight European partners, including universities, associations, municipalities and service providers.

The training program is intended to convey three core topics: municipal planning addresses, for example, how a municipality develops and successfully implements an action plan. The community development plans to shape the structural and social environment in municipalities so as to make it accessible to all people barrier free. This includes, for example, developing inclusive schools, equipping public transport and strengthening the political participation of people with disabilities in municipal parliaments and committees. In addition, the researchers support administrators in organizing needs-based services for people with disabilities.

In a pilot phase, an English training program is to be designed. Subsequently, the program will be translated into other languages and adapted to the local circumstances, cultures and administrative structures of the respective countries.

In the winter semester 2019/20, ZPE is testing the training courses in practice with study groups in all countries. At the University of Siegen, the groups consist of master students of social work, administrative employees of municipalities, persons from specialist institutions and self-advocacy organizations of persons with disabilities. "Expertise and the will to innovate are faced with bureaucracy, rules and practical limitations," says Schädler. "It will be exciting to see what can be implemented and how." Schädler and his team are testing the forms and contents of knowledge transfer: the researchers are testing in the learning groups how they can prepare information in a didactic way, for example through readers, learning texts and multimedia presentations. "Provision is also made for planning games in project groups so that they can virtually simulate planning," explains Schädler.

The CISCOS (Connecting Inclusive Social Planning, Community Development and Service Provision for Persons with Disabilities) project started in early 2018 and will end in December 2020. It is funded by the Erasmus + program of the European Union. In total, a subsidy amount of 800,000 € is available. The long-term goal is to make the knowledge and further education offers in many languages freely accessible to the widest possible group.

Professor Johannes Schädler
Center for Planning and Evaluation of Social Services (ZPE), University of Siegen
0271 740-2212

Project Partners:
-    Warsaw School of Economics (Warschau, Polen)
-    CUDV Draga (Ljubljana, Slovenien)
-    City of Lund (Lund, Schweden)
-    Disability Foundation Ireland (Dublin, Irland)
-    European Association of Service Provides for Persons with Disabilities (Brüssel, Belgien)
-    Health and Territory Research - Universidad de Sevilla (Sevilla, Spanien)
-    Hand in Hand Foundation (Budapest, Ungarn)
-    Panagia Eleousa (Messolognhi, Griechenland)