Panhellenic Association of the Blind of Northwestern Greece
Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina
Mind the map
The first and second partners are representatives of the core of the people involved in this initiative and the third provides tactile map knowhow.
Our challenge is to change how visionally impaired and blind people are living-within an environment filled with stereotypes, inequality and lack of opportunity-by using culture and its innate power as the main driver. The goal is to enhance inclusivity through participatory methods involving an association of blind people, a cultural institution and locals. This direct experience will help achieve equal participation in expanding the social and educational role of the Ioannina cultural spaces.
Ioannina, Epirus region, Northwestern Greece.
Ioannina is a city of great historical and cultural heritage. But, this rich heritage remains inaccessible to visually impaired and blind people, due to a lack of facilities and tools to welcome them. The locals exhibit an indifferent attitude and prejudice towards this social group, where mutual fear of the unknown from both sides leads to non-constructive divisions and marginalisation. This makes the existence and help of the Panhellenic Association of Blind of Northwestern Greece crucial, which is struggling to overcome the hurdles of inclusivity-even endangering its own existence-as its membership numbers are dwindling and urgently need supporters. The challenge is to transform the cultural heritage into a link that will start bridging the divisions towards a path of integration.
The fundamental concept of democracy is inclusion between the demos(people) and the kratos (rule). This initiative brings different groups of the demos together, collaborating and interfacing with the kratos (represented by the Ephorate of Antiquities), so as to mutually find solutions that work for everyone. This comes in contrast to the current situation, where the visionally impaired and blind people do not contribute to the solutions put forth for them, as authorities and locals do not know how to interface and engage them. Our initiative, through applying powerful conversational processes, invites 3 segregated groups to come together and take charge of the challenges facing them in order to make a systemic difference. This can initiate a conversion process to a more active citizenship
The core of our engagement consists of 20 visually impaired and blind people. Around this core, we engage with the portions of the community directly affecting their participation and involvement in discovering their cultural heritage–15 locals and 9 decision makers. Their collaboration in participatory activities encourages ownership and captures the participant’s thoughts on a particular problem. These activities identify the needs and problems through an open discussion with our partners, educate blind and sighted people through mobility and tactile map courses inside cultural spaces and showcase the new entity to the open public. Our initiative challenges preconceptions and dispels the negative assumptions about what visually impaired and blind people can do, think or want to achieve.
There are 3 phases
1st phase consists of 3 meetings-each feeding the next. They employ the circle and world café methods with core questions on culture/disability; their needs and problems. The first occurs in the association, the second in the Ephorate and the third in a mutually agreed space
2nd phase includes two educational activities, the first on tactile maps in cultural sites (their role, the feel of materials to touch etc) and the second on mobility training of the people with visually impairment and locals/cultural site staff
3rd phase includes 2 presentations, one to present the outcome of the previous phases, sensitise a greater part of the populace, break stereotypes and the continuation of the efforts while the second for the placement of the tactile maps in cultural sites
-Make Ioannina and the wider region aware of the visually impaired and blind people’s needs while empowering the latter not to be afraid of being exposed to the public
-Preserve the valuable work of the Association, help them attract active supporters and build the non-existent path towards cooperation with the city’s cultural scene
-Help Ioannina’s cultural sites be more extrovert, democratic and inclusive by using participatory methods for educating staff and create tactile maps
-Create a new diverse community from the participant of our initiative, making them realise and interpret a different reality from what sighted people know
-Make cultural spaces realise that symmetrical communication necessitates providing opportunities for participation/decisions to all of its target group
This initiative gives the opportunity to visually impaired and blind people to interact with the public so as to co-create their future and influence the collective life they share. Under the banner of “sharing heritage”, it aims at showing that communities can remain open and tolerant when exposed to the different whilst shaping a future that meets the needs of the local community on the local level. Giving the chance to people to develop when learning from their shared heritage, where expressing different viewpoints only fortifies the learning opportunity, shapes a vibrant community that gives hope for the future. This is why the project focuses on participatory methods that ensure that all opinions have equal weight and seek their input, in order to have a mutually beneficial result.
We are 3 people from diverse disciplines-an architect, an archaeologist and a museologist, specialised in cultural management; our activities range from multi-year academic research work, work in cultural institutions, volunteering in local groups and participation in/coordination of participatory methods. With these qualifications, we started a cooperation with the Center for Education & Rehabilitation for the Blind (KEAT), developing a first-hand experience on the lack of opportunities they have. Our connection to Ioannina is through one of our members-a permanent resident for 7 years-and knowledge of the support the Association needs to continue its work. The characteristic of our team is the diversity in disciplines/experiences and the knowledge of the Greek and wider European reality.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
- Personnel costs (organising team + educators) = 30.650€
- Travel and accommodation (organising team + educators) = 3.152€
- Catering (food + beverages) = 2.150€
- Tactile maps (pre-form model, construction, placement) = 7.000€
- Venues (incl. equipment) = 850€
- Consumables (eg. invitations, participatory material) = 1.050€
- PR and communication of initiative (social media + website) = 1.800€
- Indirect costs = 3.000€
We are very interested to receive feedback on our proposal from other members of the Civic Europe community.We want to discuss with people from various disciplines and collect thoughts so as to improve our proposal. We are happy to receive comments and maybe meet digitally to get to know each other!