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Original language: German
Emerging together from the fringes of society
Erasmus+- partnership wants to boost the significance of adult learning in sign language
He believes that the strategic partnership could alleviate the situation and be the key to greater participation. This was also made clear when the project partners met in Freising in Upper Bavaria. Their discussions demonstrated the importance of linking the various initiatives for deaf tour guides in the German-speaking Alpine Region and promoting an exchange of knowledge as a way of helping people to help themselves. This would allow course facilitators to be supported in acting locally on a qualified basis and under appropriate conditions, and in offering a broad range of guided tours in sign language.
Different starting conditions
However, not only sign language itself, but also the social and political conditions vary from country to country. In Germany, there has been considerable development in the training of deaf tour guides as well as in the networking of activities. In Austria, however, training, in particular, represents a challenge. “The main issue, as I see it, is that the occupation of tour guide is a protected occupational title in Austria,” says Paul Steixner, the Austrian co-coordinator of the project. “It requires two years of training, which is often not possible because there is nobody to pay for the necessary interpreters.” Meanwhile, until just a few years ago, there was no school for the deaf in the Italian South Tyrol region, meaning that lessons had to take place in Mils near Innsbruck. The situation has now changed, but it means that the older generation of deaf people were taught to use the “German” sign language. Communication in the German-speaking Alpine region is thus more intensive than in the rest of Italy.
Lukas Huber, head of the Association of the Deaf in Lower Austria, is convinced that both Austria and South Tyrol can benefit from the experience gained in Germany. He emphasises that “the exchange provides us with new ideas for our work, for example in overcoming specific barriers and with regard to political lobbying. By looking at how issues have been solved elsewhere, we can develop appropriate strategies and structures for our own work.” Christian Schönbeck, Vice Chairman of the German Network, also explains that the German partners have received new inspiration, for instance apps and video guides for the deaf in museums.
Empowerment and participation in society
According to Sailer, the stated objectives can be reached by empowering the stakeholders and firmly establishing participation in society. In his own words: “We need to actively develop our vision and ideas and help every individual to become more involved. In this way, we can noticeably improve the outlook for deaf people. Guided tours are an excellent means for doing so, especially as they are visible to the broader public.”
Picture credit: © NA at the BIBB / Photographer: Manfred Kasper
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About the author: Manfred Kasper is a freelance journalist and communication consultant in Cologne. His work focuses on various topics relating to education, politics, the economy and society. In this context, he has also dealt with the topic of adult education over many years.
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