How to avoid additional costs for inclusion

I have been regularly involved with cost issues for over 13 years and have implemented many projects. Most of the consulting and design projects have been for museums, but also in the wider education sector or in architecture and product development. In recent years, the implementation of inclusive goals has gained momentum. As a rule, it succeeds best where diversity is demanded as a matter of course by one decision-maker person in the company or institution with commitment. The reaction of the uninvolved is quite openly or in thought almost always “ well, for these few people we should spend so much money? Who pays the costs for inclusion?“.

I have an answer for that. It’s below, but you have to read the few lines in between to interpret it. I thought about it for a long time and finally found the clue to the problem within the question itself. After all, inclusion is not actually in question because of the cost, but, and this is my analysis, because it is not taken for granted. By „taken for granted,“ I mean something like laying power lines when you build a house. You use it to make sure the building is accessible, in some sense barrier-free, through lighting – especially if you’re going to use it at night. And you use it to operate your assistive devices, such as washing machines and heating, for people whose own energy is not sufficient for all tasks. So without electricity, the people who use the building would be very handicapped.

For the following reasons, among others, Germany is probably also in last place in the EU comparison when it comes to the implementation of the specifications by the EU and the UN. We usually don’t live with our parents or grandparents in the same house and experience every day how exhausting it is to get old once our legs and eyes don’t work anymore. We did not go to the same class with the (10%!) children who were and are sent to „special“ schools simply because of physical characteristics. That’s why we don’t know them and aren’t friends with them. That is why we have not learned to consider that they also are part of us and that it must be indisputable that all people can live as self-determined and cohabited as possible. We have not learned this. We have to make up for it, and we have a lot of catching up to do.

Now to the answer promised above, where does the money come from?
You will find it in the total budget (and not even hidden). Here’s how: When you cost a project, you require all service providers and internal project participants to „think of the power lines for your house up front.“ You will rightly expect this of all professionals in every trade involved in building a house. It’s unthinkable to do otherwise.
Expect it just as naturally that your partners think inclusively and with everyone in mind; that they already set the course in the conception and – if necessary with the involvement of consultants and experts – revise the non-inclusive ideas, because insufficient, once again to find better solutions.
If your calculation exceeds the budget as a result, the budget is set too low or elaborate creative solutions together to make changes to material, scope, size, execution, duration, etc., in order to achieve your goal.
That’s the way it’s always been. In the past, however, it was usually because you didn’t take various things into account (see above). You will all agree that human rights are non-negotiable, but maybe other things are.

And it works! With fantastic and unique results that inspire project participants and users. I know, because I have accompanied some teams in their work to the goal with team meetings, workshops and conception as well as consulting.

Speaker at the Baukulturkongress 2022 - Building Education

Today’s children are tomorrow’s planners, decision-makers and clients. I explain on the podium how to make inclusive thinking a topic in school, for example, via the topic of inclusive planning and building culture. In the audience are architects, teachers, educators. By raising awareness of open and broader thinking at an early age, they can transfer knowledge they have gained themselves to other areas of life and apply it later in their careers.

BAUKULTURKONGRESS 2022
November 17/18, 2022
Hans Sachs House Gelsenkirchen

Guest column by a blind art connoisseur

Anette Bach

Can art be comprehended?

A Rodin exhibition at the Folkwang Museum in Essen! For me an event! The years of my life when I was able to see were characterized by joy and interest in art. I loved drawing, but also paintings and sculpture. Even though I can no longer see, my interest in, I would even say my need for art has not changed. So I go to Essen. I remember Rodin’s works well. The famous „Thinker,“ „The Burghers of Calais,“ and first „The KUSS.“ What would the exhibition bring? Pure frustration! I was not allowed to touch anything.

I did not like to believe it at all. What could I destroy in stone sculptures if I only touched them with my hands? I was not allowed to touch anything even through a silk cloth that was laid on. I begged, scolded, argued. The acidic air of the Ruhr, the flies, spiders and dust would surely pose a greater threat to the integrity of the artwork. Nothing to do!

I think that’s not the way to do it! I too know, of course, that it would not be reasonable to open all museum and exhibition contents to every groping hand. But there is much more possible than is conceded. Certainly, I have often succeeded in organizing guided tours in which the showcases were opened after all or the boundary grids were pushed aside. But that was always a matter of luck and depended on the good will and high-handedness of the respective guide. I would like to see a change in thinking. All exhibitors should be obliged to make their exhibition accessible to visually impaired people. There are concepts for this and more can be developed. Exhibitors should have to have convincing arguments for what is not possible. There will always be such things, but it must not happen that we are forced into the role of supplicants, persuaders or rioters who demand something that is supposedly impossible.

If a fairy godmother ever came my way, I would wish that perhaps every state would create a facility that is chock full of models. There are so many magnificent, exciting and incredible things that people have created: The Inca’s buildings, the Taj Mahal, the Sydney Opera House or the Elbphilharmonie. Even if I could go everywhere and be allowed to walk around and touch everything, most of it would still not be accessible. I wouldn’t even recognize the David that Michelangelo created if I were allowed to climb around on the five-meter-high marble structure.

In the age of scanners and 3D printers, making models is probably just a matter of will.

My doorbell rings. Do fairies come through the front door?


About the author
Anette Bach heads the Hesse district group of the DVBS.

The 66-year-old organizes regular events on current topics and excursions with the leadership team, whose dates are published at dvbs-online.de and which are also open to interested guests.

The article was first published in Horus 2/2018 / Accessible Culture – Marburg Contributions to the Integration of the Blind and Visually Impaired. It was published here with the kind permission of the author.

Europäische Normen für die Barrierefreiheit

Logo Europäische Kommission

Gemeinsame europäische Normen für die Barrierefreiheit tragen dazu bei, Hindernisse für behinderte und andere (z. B. ältere) Menschen abzubauen. Werden diese Normen in allen Mitgliedstaaten umgesetzt, wirkt sich dies auch positiv auf den Binnenmarkt aus, da Waren und Dienstleistungen freier zirkulieren können.

Maßnahmen

Die Kommission hat die europäischen Normungsorganisationen, darunter CENCENELEC und ETSI, damit beauftragt, Normen für die Barrierefreiheit zu entwickeln und umzusetzen. Diese Normen regulieren:

Wichtige Rechtsinstrumente der EU (Richtlinie über den barrierefreien WebzugangEuropäischer Rechtsakt zur Barrierefreiheit, Richtlinien über die Vergabe öffentlicher Aufträge) regeln die etwaige Anwendbarkeit von Normen für die Barrierefreiheit. Die Kommission fördert die Beteiligung aller Interessenträger an diesen Verfahren, darunter auch Menschen mit Behinderungen.

Die EU arbeitet überdies mit anderen wichtigen Akteuren im Bereich der Normung von Barrierefreiheit zusammen, um diese auch auf internationaler Ebene zu fördern.

Hintergrund

Die Zugänglichkeit zur baulichen Umgebung, zu Information und Kommunikation (vor allem IKT) sowie zu Verkehrsmitteln wird in Artikel 9 der UN-Konvention über die Rechte von Menschen mit Behinderungen gefordert.

In der europäischen Strategie zugunsten von Menschen mit Behinderungen 2010–2020 und der Strategie für einen digitalen Binnenmarkt werden Maßnahmen zur Förderung der Normung von Barrierefreiheit genannt. Die Entwicklung spezifischer Normen für die Barrierefreiheit ist auch Gegenstand des Normungsplans der Europäischen Kommission und des jährlichen fortlaufenden IKT-Normungsplans.

How helpful is Braille lettering?

Coca Cola mit Punktschrift

We often hear that question. Some time ago, the news was spread that hardly anyone still needs or learns Braille today because there are audio books and voice output on computers and smartphones. It is also repeatedly stated that most blind people are not capable of reading and writing Braille at all.

What is true and what is wrong? Here we look at facts.

Only apparently the age structure of blind people is the same as that of sighted people. But that is not true. As almost everyone’s eyesight declines over the course of their lives and some people even become very poor, older people are often classified as severely visually impaired or blind. Some go blind due to an accident, macular degeneration or inflammation of the eyes. There are many causes of visual impairment. Most occur in the course of life and not at birth. Thus the age pyramid is turned upside down in blind people.

What does this have to do with literacy?

While every blind child goes to school and learns to read and write with Braille, this is of course not the case for older people. They do not go to school, but in the best case they do trainings. Everyone can learn Braille, but not everyone wants to.  Some people don’t have the strength or motivation to learn Braille when they get older. That is regrettable but a fact. Older people do not find it so easy to learn and they have not developed the sensitivity in their fingers to keep the points apart. They have to acquire the sensitivity first. This is more difficult with increasing age. Most people who are over 50 years old and then go blind fall off the grid. So they become illiterate in old age. Here, large, palpably raised fonts help to highlight keywords. This is called profile writing or pyramid writing. However, reading them takes an extremely long time and is no alternative to Braille. However, it is the only form of readable font for this group. In the USA an experiment with fatal consequences was carried out when in the 90s it was believed that audio output on the computer was sufficient. Braille was not taught for years. A whole generation of blind Americans were thus deprived of their future. None of these people find a job on the regular job market as illiterates. Today, blind students are taught to read and write again at all schools. The children have a right to it like every seeing child.

Who can do Braille? How many are there?

All children who are born blind or blind in the first 16 years of life learn Braille reading and writing at school. After that, braille learning is optional, but almost everyone who goes blind under the age of 50 learns braille! Together these are about a third, that is roughly 50,000 people in Germany.

Is braille then worthwhile?

Definitely and without reservation, yes! Because a world without written information, without reading and writing leads inevitably to illiteracy and thus to absolute lack of opportunity on the job market and in the further training and complicates the participation in the social life completely substantially. For the group of blind people, not offering braille is often a lack of information and dependence on those who see by chance. Both are unacceptable for human rights and the individual. The question of the absolute number of beneficiaries is often asked in order to ask whether this can be justified financially. With the same argument one would have to question elevators, escalators, cycle paths, roads and the Internet in more remote areas and much more. Some of these would not have no alternative – Braille, on the other hand, does. „But I have never had a blind visitor here before“ is of course the result of the lacking or inadequate offer. Why should a blind person go to a museum where there is nothing for him except an overview map and an audio guide?

How to do the right thing?

The prerequisite for the chance of participation is that information is actually provided in Braille. Everywhere and as much as possible. Compared to visual communication, however, it remains a fraction. This is the sign we have to set. This sign is a non-negotiable must if one speaks of an inclusive society. A society in which we also want to live when we are old or have temporary impairments, permanent disabilities ourselves or with relatives. We all want to continue to be able to make our contribution to working life and family life and not be excluded.

Understood. And where should Braille be used?

Wherever it makes it easier or even impossible to distinguish between products. Where the autonomy of a blind person is made possible by receiving information or being able to operate devices without being forced to ask someone (of course he is still free). Where education and knowledge transfer becomes possible. Where orientation is made easier.

Schreiben und Sprechen über Menschen mit Behinderungen und ältere Erwachsene

Die Vokabeln ändern sich ständig, aber die folgenden Hinweise behalten ihre Gültigkeit.

  • Vermeiden Sie das Wort „Behinderter“;  es ist eine Person – und falls das für den besprochenen Aspekt wirklich relevant ist, „mit einer Behinderung“.
  • Ein Mensch mit einer Behinderung hat Dinge nicht „trotz seiner schweren Behinderung“ erreicht, sondern er tut es als Mensch – mit seiner Behinderung.
  • Beziehen Sie sich immer zuerst auf eine Person und nicht auf deren Behinderung; dies betont den Wert und die Fähigkeiten einer Person. Verwenden Sie niemals eine Behinderung als Adjektiv. Es ist kein blinder Schriftsteller, sondern ein Schriftsteller der blind ist. Konzentrieren Sie sich auf die Person, nicht auf die Behinderung.
  • Sehr missverständlich wirkt die Floskel „sie leidet an …“, oder „Personen, die unter … leiden„. Sofern die Person keine Schmerzen hat und dies selbst so äussert, ist dies nicht passend.
  • Verwenden Sie nicht „besonders“; dies trennt den Einzelnen von der Gruppe. Zum Beispiel sind Informationen nicht zu den „besonderen Bedürfnissen der Gruppe“ notwendig, sondern einfach wegen der „Bedürfnisse der Gruppe“.
  • Das Wort „Betroffene“ impliziert ein schweres Schicksal oder Leid und stellt die Personen als scheinbar bemitleidenswert dar.
  • Verwenden Sie keine Euphemismen wie „körperlich gefordert“ oder
    „herausgefordert“. Diese sind herablassend.
  • Benutzen Sie keine Etiketten: „Behinderte“, „Blinde“, „Gehörlose“ oder gar „normal“. Das Etikettieren von Menschen ist nicht angenehm. „Normal“ impliziert, dass eine andere Gruppe „nicht normal“ sei.
  • Denken Sie über Floskeln nach wie „an den Rollstuhl gefesselt“. Der Rollstuhl ist das Gegenteil: er bedeutet Freiheit für Menschen, die ihn nutzen.
  • Sprechen Sie niemals von krank, Krankheit oder umgekehrt von gesund, wenn es um angeborene oder bleibende Eigenschaften eines Menschen geht.
  • Unterlassen Sie es von einem Schicksal oder Schicksalsschlag zu sprechen. Oder von „Opfer“. Die Worte „betroffen“ und „Opfer“ implizieren alle Hilflosigkeit und emotionalisieren und sensationalisieren die Behinderung einer Person)

 

Consulting mandate for the new construction of the VBG BGW Prevention Centre in Hamburg

Architektursimulation

(Foto: Auer Weber Assoziierte)

The Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH Identity Architects commissioned Steffen Zimmermann as a consultant for accessibility for the planning and design of the new centre of excellence in Hafencity of the two associations VBG and BGW

The new centre is to be a beacon project for accessibility and future and trend-setting preventive work.

The Berufsgenossenschaft für Gesundheitsdienst und Wohlfahrtspflege (BGW) and the Verwaltungs-Berufsgenossenschaft (VBG) are the building owners and operators in Hamburg HafenCity. From 2022, they intend to launch new qualification, event and consulting services there, among other things, and make it possible to experience both healthy and safe working in theme worlds. The two associations are two of the largest in Germany.

Inclusion is a priority right from the conceptual approach

The building is to be highly accessible and exemplary in the way that training institutions can be designed to be inclusive. In addition to model workplaces, the planned Prevention Centre will feature theme worlds and exhibitions that make the prevention of occupational accidents, occupational diseases and work-related health hazards tangible. The services will also be available in part to the general public. In addition, individual advice and training for insured persons with work-related health problems is planned. My expertise is particularly evident in the orientation and guidance system as well as in the information services, whether digital, passive or active. This also applies to the revision of the house font for a tactile typeface, which is used in the guidance system as a raised relief font. Furthermore, all elements of the system are equipped with Braille (braille for blind visitors) and high-contrast large print. Orientation in the building and guidance through the building is supported by a floor guidance system. Everything is wheelchair accessible and conveniently accessible for people of all ages.

Untersuchungen zeigen, dass inklusives Design die Kundenreichweite um das Vierfache steigern kann

Studien, die vom Centre for Inclusive Design in Zusammenarbeit mit Adobe und Microsoft durchgeführt wurden, haben ergeben, dass Produkte und Dienstleistungen, die auf die gesamte Breite der Bedürfnisse von Menschen zugeschnitten sind, das Vierfache der Zahl der Nutzer erreichen können.

Inklusionsdenken früh in die Konzeptphase einbeziehen, verhindert Zusatzkosten

„Untersuchungen zeigen, dass inklusives Design die Kundenreichweite um das Vierfache steigern kann“ weiterlesen

Auszeichnung durch den Bundespräsidenten Frank Walter Steinmeier

Ich freue mich, daß heute meine Initiative #goinclusive auch von ganz oben, also vom Bundespräsidenten anerkannt wird und ausgezeichnet wurde.

Gutes Design, gute Architektur, gute Wissensvermittlung ist immer für ALLE Anwender verständlich und nutzbar. Dazu haben wir (schweizergestaltung, Werk5 und ich) uns zusammengeschlossen und beraten und unterstützen Unternehmen, Designer, Museen, Institutionen, Produkthersteller und die Politik dabei, diese Aspekte ohne ästhetische oder inhaltliche Abstriche umzusetzen.

Auszeichnung: ausgezeichnete orte