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"Look beyond disability" EU project

Logo for the Grundtvig programmeLook Beyond Disability – a Grundtvig project

MDF is a partner in this programme that  bringins together organisations from different countries.


What is Grundtvig?

Grundtvig is a funding programme of the European Union, centered around education for adults, especially for people from excluded groups. It  is named after Nikolaj Grundtvig, a Danish educational pioneer.

What is the Look Beyond Disability project?

A partnership project providing informal learning opportunities for disabled people to help overcome barriers that exclude them from participating fully in society.

What will Look Beyond Disability do?

Drawing from their existing knowledge and experience the partners aim to develop new ways of "crossing over" beyond disability, to get to a higher degree of participation and integration, involving disabled people at each stage of the process. This includes exploration of the User Led Organisations model, ICT applications, as well as involvement of disabled people in self-advocacy and volunteer activities.

With learners' active participation, each organisation will provide a program of local activities, suitable for their local context, and share their experience with international partners.

Many of these activities will cross over and overlap, as partners' learners and staff participate in joint workshops, open events, and study visits, centered around six project meetings. Each meeting will be in a different country, attended by learners and staff. This will provide inspiration and added value in learning from each other.

It will all be set down in a "project diary", which later will be put together as an "Experience Book". This will be a toolkit/handbook of innovative tools and practices developed, which will be freely accessible.

Our partners

Who are the other partners with MDF in this project?

Turkey - Etimesgut Municipality

Etimesgut is a Municipal District in central Turkey, a commuter suburb of Ankara.

The district strives for integration for all disabled people, and to counter the social exclusion that disabilities may cause. Etimesgut arranges panel discussions, training courses, conferences and social activities such as handicraft workshops, sport and drama activities, and study visits for disabled and non-disabled people. It also operates five “social facilities” where disabled people receive specialised training.

Etimesgut will contribute to the project by developing a local program of drama and handicraft activities, which will bring together disabled and non-disabled people.

Belgium - WAI-NOT

WAI-NOT promotes ICT as a development and training tool for youngsters with a mental disability, and to increase their social inclusion and participation in that way.

WAI-NOT has developed an on-line platform ("wai-not" website) specially for people with mental health issues and/or learning disabilities. Among the features of the website ...

  • tool for translating between pictograms and written language
  • news selection
  • many educational features.

This is a very successful ICT tool adjusted to the needs of disabled people and is easily accessible to them, in a safe environment. It is regularly used (there are 2,000 registered users), even though it was developed by a small non-profit organisation with limited means. This is a model that may be worth promoting, expanding, and adapting in other countries and contexts.

WAI-NOT will share the experience of developing and running the ICT platform with international partners for mutual benefit. It will take steps towards extending this tool into a broader, European platform, for greater accessibility.

France - Espace Associatif de Quimper (EA29)

Since its creation in 1985, Espace Associatif de Quimper (EA29) has gathered resources and information to support voluntary groups. With its 830 members, EA29 helps to arrange co-operation between groups, and represents their views to official bodies.

EA29 is based on these main activities

  • Improving the qualifications of the volunteers - including disabled volunteers
  • Working on projects to helping co-operation at the European scale
  • To promote the development of the Social Economy and Sustainable Development in western Brittany.

EA29 develop their activities through:

  • Local activities - such as organising forums, arranging exhibitions about the voluntary sector and making representations
  • A training program to support and promote the development of skills for volunteers
  • Training for voluntary groups, for example in management and accounting
  • A Resource Centre providing support for, for example, legal and financial issues, conflict-solving, HR advice, and project evaluation
  • Managing projects such as "Welcome the Difference", a project dedicated to the involvement of disabled volunteers.

In this Grundtvig partnership, EA29 will to share experience from its "Welcome the Difference" project, run in close partnership with two of its EA29 member organizations:

  • ADAPEI, an association of parents with autistic children and
  • ESAT of Briec, an institution providing work and housing to people with Learning Difficulty.

EA29’s role in this project will be to organize a workgroup around the key issues, develop the project locally, and work on creating opportunity for volunteers. ESAT will provide volunteers and will help them to overcome the difficulties with the aid of professional staff, and ADAPEI will involve parents and local authorities in carrying out this work at the strategic and policy level.

Ireland - University College, Dublin

University College Dublin has a long history of engagement in social and community development. The Equality Studies Centre, based in the University’s School of Social Justice is dedicated to the development of an interdisciplinary understanding of equality – in Ireland and abroad – and to the development of outreach programmes. The Centre has played a key role over two decades in promoting equality awareness and collaborating with voluntary groups in working for social change.

In this project, the Centre will work in collaboration with the Irish Deaf Society - the national representative organisation of Deaf and hard of hearing people in Ireland

As a part of this project, the Centre (with IDS) aims to share "barrier-breaking" experiences internationally, and to involve a group of disabled people in a European project, which will help promote their active involvement in society. At the local level, UCD and IDS will pilot a partnership process between the deaf community and the university (UCD) so that the knowledge and skills of both can be maximized in the planning, design and delivery of effective education initiatives that can meet the needs of deaf people.

At a European level, solidarity among learners from different countries/partner organisation will be built, and experiences and skills will be exchanged. The key here is the involvement of learners themselves; and IDS already has experience of projects designed and implemented both for – and more importantly by - deaf people.

What are the general objectives of the Partnership?

The main problems addressed by the partnership are:

  • Social exclusion
  • Communication barriers
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Low participation of learners in social activities, and in decision making about their own life and education.

The partnership identified five specific objectives

  1. to involve disabled people at each stage of project’s process
    • opportunity for learners to be actively involved in a European partnership project
    • creative participation of learners in planning the projects, carrying them out and spreading the word about them.
  2. to raise general awareness of issues of disabled people in society using ICT and other tools
    • involving learners in decision-making, and encouraging them to use ICT tools to build their self-awareness
    • public events, dissemination and promotion, raising awareness of society concerning barriers faced by disabled people, and opportunities to overcome those barriers
  3. to develop ways and tools of "looking beyond the disability"
    • with learners' participation, identifying existing best practices, and new, potential activities in the field of informal education and social participation
    • local programs of activities in each partner institution
    • a transnational program of activities, in which local activities overlap
  4. to share experiences internationally and adapt partners’ practices to local needs
    • opportunity for learners and staff to meet and learn from one another
    • comparing methodologies used by different partners
    • exchanging and transferring suitable elements of other partners' practices
    • engaging (learners, staff, and local community) in joint activities during mobilities
  5. to ensure that project results and products are sustainable, usable, and fully accessible to target learner communities
    • developing a dissemination strategy for results and products of the partnership
    • making sure the results are in formats accessible to all learners