National People with Disabilities Social Inclusion Program
Persons with Disabilities Freedom of Movement and Accessibility – Project “Without Thresholds”. This is a long-term project which began in 2011. The project activities aim – to reduce social exclusion, drawing the attention of society in general, and public officials to the inaccessible or poorly accessible/adapted public environment: – buildings, paths, pedestrian crossings and parking areas for the disabled. Most of the buildings and the urban environment in Lithuanian cities and towns are not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, and therefore you will rarely meet persons with disabilities in parks, cafes or the theater. This situation exists for many years and only slowly is changing was the impetus for the project “Without Thresholds”. Many of the difficulties that people with disability face in terms of access could be avoided if at the time of designing, construction and fitting out of public spaces and public buildings it was thought about people with disabilities, instead of when all the work is completed.
It is planned in 2012 to convene open discussions „Without Thresholds“ in 4 municipalities that have been reviewed in terms of accessibility to present the review results using visual presentations, prepare recommendations, to municipal officials, decision-makers and the media. It is planned that over 500 objects (public buildings) will be assessed. On the day of the discussions a cultural-social interaction „Movement of Angels“, will be organized in the municipality‘s central streets. Using a playful theatrical format, community members will be acquainted with accessible environments, the current situation in their community including the problems and shortcomings. The aim is to draw people‘s attention to mobility opportunities and this will be achieved with the help of persons with disability, children, mothers of children with disabilities and other participants, wearing angel‘s wings and moving with the aid of wheelchairs, prams, scooters, bicycles or other forms of transport, interact with people in the streets, attempt to enter into various buildings, shops, offices. The ”Movement of Angels” is a powerful tool to raise awareness in small towns and communities. It shows how even angels gave trouble accessing certain places.
Up-Dated LAPD Web Site. The LAPD website will be renewed in order to make it more attractive and to better reflect the organization’s activities, current disability issues and how they are addressed. To date, the site was only oriented towards the organization’s members, information was available only in Lithuanian. It is foreseen to introduce new innovations with the aim of reaching a wider audience – not just people with disabilities, but also people interested in disability issues, professionals, organizations working with people with disabilities, as well as the general public.
The website will be designed so that when someone visits the site it will be easier for them to find information and other materials specifically allocated to their target group or area of interest. The website will provide general information about LAPD, its associated members and public companies, the organization’s objectives, projects and activities. Other innovations to be included on the updated website include sections on volunteering, fund-raising (how to support the organization by allocating your 2%, how to support specific projects or activities), presentations of people with disabilities presented in a positive light reflecting their achievements, information about current and ongoing projects and other innovative ideas.
We hope that the updated website will attract new visitors and become an important communication tool. Site visitors will not only be able to find the relevant information, but also to express their views, pose questions to the LAPD staff (receive consultations on social and legal issues). It is hoped that LAPD will become more visible both in Lithuania and beyond, because most of the information will be translated into English.
Film program “Disability is not an Obstacle.” LAPD, in collaboration with the International Short Film Festival Forum “Networks” evry year, plans to continue its project “Disability is not an Obstacle” film (short films) program. The project is of an educational, awareness raising nature. The short film program aims to draws attention to the stereotypes associated with disabilities, raises important disability issues in society and contributes to ensuring the rights of persons with disability. This year, the film program is focused on school-age children and youth. The organizers’ experience shows that cinema is an easily understood and effective tool that can be used in the non-formal education of young people. The film program “Disability is not an Obstacle” will be shown in the larger cities cultural spaces, cinemas and mainstream institutions. The project coordinators hope that the film program will not only attract the attention of youth, but will also allow peers with disabilities to engage in activities with youth.