Different Views of Culture

This training-Course took place in Vilanova i la Geltrù (Barcelona, spain) from the 18th till 25th of October. It was organised by the youth-organisation Barcelona Voluntaria with the support of the “Youth in Action Programme of the European Commission. The topic was quite concrete: access to culture for blind and visual impaired people.

The 19 participants were young people and youth-workers from Norway, Greece, Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy and Spain. Ten of them were blind o visual impaired.

The objectives of the activities were to promote the collaboration between visually impaired and none visually impaired people on topics like different techniques and methods to get access to culture.

Some of the activities were braille and new technology work-shops, special orientation exercises, expositions through local bodies of their cultural projects, audiodescription classes, building scale models of different buildings, museum visits and resource centers, creating of fairytale books to touch for visually impaired people, group discussions, etc.

The great local participation and help that was contributed to the Training Course was necessary to make this Course a success.

With the cooperation and support of students from the Erasmus-office of the University of Barcelona “Student Network ETSAB” the youngsters worked very driven on building scale-models of buildings the blinds couldn’t discover completely with the white cane after the university students had taught them basic methods of building miniature reproductions. With the models the blinds were able to get a rounded picture of the different buildings they have visited before.

Thanks to the students of the university’s architecture department and donations made by the company “Servicio estación” the youngsters had a variety of materials to choose from for building their models.

The two university students Anna Tantull and Miquel Mariné did a workshop of building touchable fairytale books with the participants. They both have received a research grand from the culture department of the Catalan government for these special kinds of fairytales. The work on the fairytales were a great experience for the participants as well as for the students that discussed a lot about different methods, creations, fabrics, shapes etc. Together and also they consider the differences about totally blin children from the birth and children that can see before. The way to understand the pictures, the world, the colours where some questions that they discussed.

The president and the vice-president of the Catalan association for the integration of blinds (ACIC) explained and demonstrated their cultural projects and demands concerning the local bodies to the participants and trainers. One example is the English translation of the document “Por una cultura al alcance de todos” done by volunteers for this occasion.

They also talked about the recently in Spain introduced voting system for blinds. The establishment of the voting system was also a demand of the ACIC that developed the system based on the system used in Sweden and Germany.

The president of the guide dog association of Catalonia (Spain) explained that it is allowed by law that these dogs can enter all places. He also pointed out the importance of this law for the social awareness.

The participants visited the Politecnic University of Catalonia to see in how fare the accessibility for blind students is developed and, the most important, they knew about the Accessibility Chair that this university have. After a presentation the youngsters listened to Genar Escolar, a trainer on tiflotecnologies of Blind Foundation who talked about his foundation and his experiences with the technology for blinds.

Afterwards the participants went to a computer-lab with software accessible for blinds provided by the university. Mirko Montecchiani who gives tiflo-technique classes at the university in Ancona (Italy) showed the participants how to enter the internet and work with the computer using the installed software for binds. The participants started to write their own blog Differentviewsofculture.worpress.com.

One day the professional Catalan audio-descriptor Llorenç Blasi joint the exchange to talk about his experience and demonstrated examples of audio described movies, operas, theatre plays and documentaries. With this input the participants started a discussion and talked about the progress of audio description in their own countries.

In the course, the participants also saw audiovisuals with audiodescriptions about the social inclusion of blind people in the jobs, the school, etc.

Besides passing time in Vilanova i la Geltrú the group got to visit some interesting places like the museum “Victor Balaguer” where the youngsters with visual problems were allowed to touch parts of the exhibition. The group was also welcomed by the Major in the plenary room of the town-hall where the youngsters asked questions about the accessibility of the town. Furthermore the group visited one day Barcelona citty.

In Barcelona they started their day with the visit of the ONCE´s “Centro Resources Centre Joan Amades” where they went to the social-science room (with touchable objects like maps, atlases globes etc.) and the laboratory (with measurement instruments for blinds, color detectors, talking scales, ect.).

Afterwards the city’s Sea’s Museum opened the doors for the young international visitors to show their most interesting peaces as well as their new touchable scale-model of the museum building. The two experts in culture accessibility Mònica Surís and M.José Ania from the company “Comaccess” accompanied us during the touching discovery of the models and the museum as well as for a guided visit of Barcelona’s old town.

Thanks to a group dynamic extracted from the SALTO’s inclusion Resources Centre website the participants without visual problems got some answers to frequent questions or questions that are difficult to ask blind persons. This enriched the living together and the overall atmosphere.

The Training’s accessible intercultural night and the accessible personal museum of the participants were the most creative and playful but not less useful parts for the participants. The participants created with modeling clay and a lot of other materials monuments of their countries for the museum. Moreover the participants brought small reproductions of objects and buildings from their regions for this concrete activity.

The overall evaluation that we agreed on within the different associations is that “Different views of culture” has been in fact very complete Course. This success was only possible with the great help of the local bodies and the volunteers of our organization which have also served the participants with their knowledge and experience like they led us know in their final evaluations.