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RightToConnect EU-wide dissemination: Social service providers across Europe took part in a workshop in EASPD KVPS international conference in Helsinki, Finland

On October 13th RightToConnect project organised a workshop in EASPD and KVPS international conference titled “Enabling Social Innovation: Concepts, frameworks & organisational change’’ Hosted in Helsinki, Finland. On behalf of the project consortium, Sarah Gavra Boland and Patrick Fitzgerald from Saint John of God Community Services, Ireland joined in the panel as speakers and Omor Ahmed from EASPD moderated the workshop. Prominent assistive technology expert Greg Wellems, from Keystone international also gave a keynote presentation during the workshop highlighting the importance of person-centred technology approaches in different partner countries of Keystone International, paving the way to include people with disabilities in the society.

On his introductory presentation, Greg Wellems explained how and why Keystone’s creates their initiatives on Persen-Centred Plans (PCP) in collaboration with individuals’ families, friends and team members, for all individuals who accept ID services and supports. Greg also highlighted the process and strategies to improve behavioural and physical health, support accessing the community, find competitive work, and communicate effectively to become an active citizen in the community. In addition, the importance of including people with disabilities in all aspects of the process through open conversation came during the question answer part.

In the second part, Sarah and Patrick presented together the aim of the RightToConnect, lesson learned, and its results achieved so far. Sarah mentioned that the research carried out in the beginning of the project identified different needs and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities from five partner countries.  Patrick highlighted how co-design enables a wide range of people to be creative together and find solutions to a problem. They learned lots about accessibility such as Microsoft built-in accessibility, using chat GPT, facial recognition for easy log-in, etc. Patrick shared his recent experience when he turned a policy document into an easy-to-read text and they sent it to a language expert who actually thought an easy-to-read professional had done it. Sarah also highlighted the learnings from cross country collaboration in teaching co-design to both users and developers. The RightToConnect project brings five partner country who prepared a number of digital skills online courses together with people with intellectual disabilities. Later Patrick shared his top accessibility tips when it comes to sharing information with person with intellectual disabilities.

In the third part of the of the workshop, all participants took part in a group exercise where Sarah, Patick and Evangelia, from Margarita Greece gave instructions to complete a series of exercises using design thinking tools such as ‘How might We’. The aim of the exercise was to generate tangible ideas on how any organization can become more inclusive when it comes accommodating people with disabilities in every aspect of their involvement. In total, there were 40 participants divided into 5 group for this exercise. One spokesperson on from each group presented their idea in the end.

People in a room with table and chair. Three of them are stand up near a presentation on screen with empathy map

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