Germany Inclusion Days in Berlin

This year we celebrate the International Day of Disabled Persons at the Inclusion Days (Inklusionstage) in Berlin, Germany. It is an interesting dialogue conference with 600 participants from all corners of the world. The focus is to make everyone participate actively.

Susanna Laurin

Title: Chief Research and Innovation Officer

The conference focuses on the situation in Germany and what can be learned from experience from other countries. It is the Department of Employment and Social affairs that organize the event, which is very well organized and generous. The participants are a mix of representatives from the disability movement, policy makers and experts. Invited speakers come from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States, while the audience is mainly from northern Germany.

Basically, the UNCRPD is being discussed, from many different perspectives. In the parallel sessions, projects, experiences and role models of different kinds are presented, divided into topics such as work life, education, accessibility and much more.

Funka was invited to present our success story, going from an NGO project created by disability organizations in a small country up north to become a commercial market leader in Europe.

I have to admit that I was hesitant about the set up. Three speakers per room make a 15-minute presentation each, the topics are sprawling. After that, the audience is expected to initiate a discussion for more than an hour. The panel has not prepared in advance and it is a pure coincidence that I know the moderator from before. Anything can happen. With about 100 people in each room there is a high risk that nobody dares to raise the hand.

But I am totally mistaken! It quickly becomes a good discussion where the audience is the main actors and individuals with communication difficulties are debating with political officials as the most natural thing in the world – very rewarding. In a magical way, the moderators make sure that personal stories and complaints lead to constructive solutions. I am impressed.

Science meets the user perspective

The conference's evening activity is refreshing. The first day ends at 5 pm, after which a buffet dinner is offered. Two hours later, anyone still standing brings the delicious little dessert, or the beer, and goes back into the grand hall, now decorated with small round tables. Time for debate about easy to read!

In Germany, like in many other countries, there is a hot debate about who easy to read is for, how it should be presented and what the format really means at different levels. Germany has defined two levels, using different words for "easy " to separate them:" einfach "and" leicht ". Pictures, pictograms and illustrations are an important part of the concept, as is also the case in Finland, for example.

The issue currently in focus is the certificate used to show that a text is easy to read. On one hand, there is a symbol for texts that meets the criteria set for easy to read. One the other hand, there are several labels showing that a group of people from the target audience / audiences have "tested" and delivered feedback before publishing.

What is the best way to go: to have a standardized method that everyone follows or to let users approve the text? User involvement is very beneficial and it can also create job opportunities for individuals who often find it hard to enter the regular labor market. But, the result may be biased by personal opinions, not least because different target groups may have different needs. In the case of news services, there is simply no time to co-create texts in an iterative process.

The discussion bounces back and forth during the evening and it is exciting to see many universities, authorities and commercial actors having strong opinions about a topic that sometimes seems forgotten.

It is also liberating that the goal is the exchange of views, not that everyone must constantly achieve consensus. Way to go, Germany!

Related chronicles by Susanna Laurin

  • Accessibility is moving forward – believe it or not

    6 May 2019

    Sometimes progress is hard to spot if you are in the middle of the whole thing. It might be useful to take a step back and reflect on all the different things going on in our business. The evolution is quite impressive, says Funka's Research and Innovation Officer.

  • Focus on elderly users

    7 February 2019

    Funka's CEO Susanna Laurin reports from a debate in the European Parliament and international standardization that deals with the inclusion of elderly in IT development.

  • Thanks for another amazing year!

    29 November 2018

    Another year of accessibility work is coming to an end. Funkas’ Susanna Laurin writes about the importance of positive feedback and the need to give appreciation to those who do the right thing.

  • Between hope and despair

    14 August 2018

    Monitoring and possible fines can be a driving force for accessibility. But at the same time, threats can mean that services are taken down. How do we make sure that legislation increases accessibility?

  • Make sure accessibility is afloat

    29 May 2018

    Funka's Susanna Laurin sees similarities between working with accessibility and taking care of a wooden boat. Both activities require patience and the results can make many people happy.

  • It's time to put our feet down!

    8 November 2017

    A judicial precedent now allows for a tighter interpretation of the Swedish law on support and services for certain disabled people. This may mean that many people lose their right to personal assistance. Do we really want people to be denied a worthy life on equal terms with others?

  • Accessible summer greetings

    12 June 2017

    As the sun glistens in the ocean, the birds wake me up in the early mornings and life gets a little easier once sunshine and warm weather turn our latitudes into paradise, a report on digitization makes me even more happy.

  • Funka in the U.S.

    6 March 2017

    We are always interested in what is going on in our market. When two conferences on accessibility, gaming and assistive technology happens in the same week, the agenda is filling up.

  • The eternal question of cost

    7 February 2017

    Funka’s Susanna Laurin reports from an EU conference on accessibility and legislation in Brussels. The focus is, as usual, on the economy.

  • To recycle consultants

    6 January 2017

    Two of our very competent consultants have tried their wings with our clients and then chosen to come back to Funka. Naturally, we're very excited and we've asked Oskar and Karin to tell us a little bit about their experiences.

  • 10 years with the UNCRPD

    8 December 2016

    Funka’s Susanna Laurin ponders what we celebrate on the international day of persons with disabilities. Accessibility seems - more than ever - a moving target.

  • An international perspective on accessibility

    4 July 2016

    Funka’s Susanna Laurin is reporting on an exciting meeting of experts from all over the world, at the US Access Board in Washington.

  • Report from the European eAccessibility Forum in Paris

    17 June 2016

    The French association for the visually impaired, BrailleNet, arrange an annual conference on digital accessibility. The theme for the 2016 edition was the internet of things. Funka’s own Susanna Laurin is reporting from the conference.

  • The dangers of legislation

    10 March 2016

    An unsettling trend is happening in the U.S.: by using legislation as a battering ram lawyers are making money, but inaccessibility persist.

  • There’s hope for the future

    30 November 2015

    Susanna Laurin's reflections on the situation for people with disabilities face in the world today.

  • Integrity and culture

    11 September 2015

    Funka’s CEO Susanna Laurin reflects on cultural differences between Spain and Sweden, personal integrity and how badly things can get, even when you try your hardest to do the right thing.

  • While we are enjoying it

    18 June 2015

    Funka’s Susanna Laurin considers trends in accessibility and the fact that we no longer have much time to reflect.

  • When technology can make a difference

    18 March 2015

    Different safety and technology aspects are being brought up as arguments against e-voting, but these problems must be possible to overcome. Funka's Susanna Laurin takes some time to reflect upon the democratic perspective of e-voting and today's broad lack of accessibility.

  • A mutual admiration society

    29 October 2014

    Funka’s Susanna Laurin questions why accessibility and user experience experts are so eager to talk to people with similar opinions. Would it not be better to let different views and opinions meet to bring about change?

  • Sunny days, but no time to be lazy

    19 June 2014

    We look back at a hectic period and look forward to even more work. But first of all, we will enjoy the summer holidays.

  • Good for all...?

    25 February 2014

    Funka’s Susanna Laurin rejoices in the fact that design for all really works in our everyday life.

  • Funka Christmas letter 2013

    20 December 2013

    Susanna Laurin, Funka, sums up a busy year. A year of continued growth, continued expansion in Norway and a new office in Madrid.

  • Why WCAG is not enough

    25 October 2013

    It is leaning towards legislation on web accessibility in the EU. Funka's Susanna Laurin takes a closer look at what the guidelines that almost everyone is pointing towards actually entail for the users.