Cyprus’ Participation in the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development in New York

The Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Ms. Marilena Evangelou, participated in the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development (UN) in New York.

The Deputy Minister emphasized, within the context of the National Statement of the Republic of Cyprus, the urgent actions and reforms that must be undertaken to achieve the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda with fair, effective, and inclusive social policies.

Reference was made to the broader social protection policies of Cyprus, such as, among others, the EEE, the Minimum Wage, the General Health System, the Long-term Care Services, as well as to the modernization of services to respond to the green and digital transition.

Emphasis was placed on the recent reforms of the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare in the EEE, particularly on strengthening the Social Intervention Mechanism, which aims to activate beneficiaries by integrating them into the labor market through training programs or psychosocial support.

Emphasizing the importance of policies for reconciling family and professional life, so as to facilitate parents both in their work and in the care of their children, Ms. Evangelou presented the benefits arising from the Childcare and Education Subsidy Scheme for children up to 4 years old of the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare. Reference was also made to the parental leave allowance and the expansion of paternity leave coverage to all fathers regardless of family status.

Within the context of social inclusion of individuals with disabilities, reference was made to the “National Strategy for Disability 2018-2028.”

On the margins of the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare had a meeting with the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. LI Junhua, during which they exchanged views on the challenges at the international level regarding the implementation of the Social Agenda 2030 and the Social Development Goals. Ms. Evangelou informed Mr. Junhua about the social policy implemented by Cyprus, while the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs emphasized the importance of Cyprus’s participation as a member state of the European Union (EU) in the Commission’s work.

Ms. Evangelou also conducted bilateral meetings with the Minister of Labor, Welfare, and Social Protection of Portugal, Ms. Ana Mendes Godinho, the Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs of Costa Rica, Mr. Alejandro Solano Ortiz, and the Deputy Minister of Social Development of Jordan, Mr. Barq Al-Dmour, during which they agreed on the exchange of best practices on issues related to broader social policy.

During her stay in New York, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare met with Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, as well as Mr. Kyriakos Papastylianou, the President of the Federation of Cypriots in America, and members of the Cypriot Diaspora, with whom they discussed the social challenges faced by the Diaspora, as well as ways for further cooperation.

(MTH/GS/NZ)

Denmark apologizes for the mistreatment that individuals with disabilities have suffered in the past

The Danish government officially apologized today to individuals who were victims of abuse in public institutions in the past, whether they were admitted because they had disabilities or because they had behavioral problems.

“The state (…) had a duty to oversee, and it did not adequately perform its job,” said Minister of Social Affairs Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil in front of approximately 50 survivors who are still alive and went to Horsens, Western Denmark, for this event. “On behalf of the state, on behalf of the Danish government, I apologize,” the minister added.

Between 1933 and 1980, approximately 15,000 children and adults with visual or hearing impairments, epilepsy, speech problems, physical or intellectual disabilities were placed in these special institutions for varying lengths of time. During that time, the authorities’ concern was not to protect the rights of the patients, but primarily to protect society from them, explained expert researchers.

From 1929 until 1967, sterilization of patients with psychiatric problems was imposed by law, and until 1989, they had to obtain special permission to marry.

In 2020, the previous government initiated an investigation into the fate of these people who were admitted to institutions. Serious omissions and mistreatment of patients were thus revealed, including forced sterilizations, violence, sexual abuse, as well as deficiencies in medical care.

“What happened to you is far from what we want for Denmark. We will never forget what happened to you. What happened to you will never happen again,” assured the minister.

Source: Reporter

The first member of parliament with Down syndrome

The reshuffles in the Valencian region brought Mar Gómez to the regional parliament

There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome. Mar Gómez is set to become the first parliamentarian with Down syndrome in the Valencian Parliament. She has been in the public service for 26 years and is now a member of the executive committee of the Partido Popular.

“We can take on our own challenges and chase our dreams just like anyone else,” she says. “The important thing is to love,” she adds, encouraging other people with Down syndrome to take the first step in the fight for their rights.”

The appointments to government positions in the autonomous community of Valencia will allow Mar Galcerán, the current secretary of the association of people with different abilities of the PPCV, to enter

The President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Carlos Mazón, pointed out on social media, after learning of the information published by El Mundo, that it is “extremely good news for politics” and a sign that “obstacles are overcome.” He welcomed the future Member of the majority group in Les Corts.

The President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Carlos Mazón, pointed out on social media, after learning of the information published by El Mundo, that it is “extremely good news for politics” and a sign that “obstacles are overcome.” He welcomed the future Member of the majority group in Les Corts.In the regional elections on May 28, the PP elected 15 Members for the electoral district of Valencia, although the formation of the Council under the presidency of this party led to some losses in the parliamentary group of the People’s Party, as the seat is incompatible with the high office of the second or third director in the Generalitat de Valencia.

The President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Carlos Mazón, pointed out on social media, after learning of the information published by El Mundo, that it is “extremely good news for politics” and a sign that “obstacles are overcome.” He welcomed the future Member of the majority group in Les Corts.In the regional elections on May 28, the PP elected 15 Members for the electoral district of Valencia, although the formation of the Council under the presidency of this party led to some losses in the parliamentary group of the People’s Party, as the seat is incompatible with the high office of the second or third director in the Generalitat de Valencia.

The latest change was the appointment of the substitute, Ernesto Fernández, as the general director of the Entitat Valenciana d’Habitatge i Sòl (EVha), which was published this Thursday in the Official Gazette of the Generalitat and takes effect immediately.

It would have to be replaced by number 19 on the list, Maribel Sáez, but she is also the general director, in this case, of the Commerce Council.

In this way, as soon as Ernesto Fernández formalizes his resignation from his position in Les Corts, the position will be filled by number 20 on the candidacy, Mar Galcerán, who started working in the public service twenty-six years ago, thirteen of which have been in the Ministry of the Presidency of the Generalitat.

In 2010, she passed the first competitive examinations adapted for people with intellectual disabilities held in Valencia and worked in the Department of Social Welfare and later in the Department of Equality and Social Inclusion, and today she works in a junior position in the Health Department.

Mar Galcerán started in politics at a very young age, with the help of the Youth of the PP, and today she is a member of the Autonomous Executive Committee of the PP of the Valencian community, as the secretary of the area of people with different abilities.

The future Member of the People’s Party assures that she “will work to serve the citizens” and encourages “anyone to fight for their dreams.”

Source: ΤΑ ΝΕΑ

USA: Only 21% of people with disabilities were employed in 2022.

How employers can reduce biases in hiring people with disabilities

Only 21% of people with disabilities were employed in the USA in 2022, as reported by CNBC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults in the United States has a disability that affects their major life activities, including challenges in hearing and vision, mobility, cognition, independent living, and engaging in activities such as dressing. In total, 61 million Americans have some form of disability.

Despite the additional challenges in their daily lives, a significant portion of this population can work – and desires to do so. However, many face challenges in their efforts. In 2022, only 21.3% of the population of people with disabilities were employed, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are some reasons why the employment rate of this population remains low and what employers can do to ensure fairness in the hiring process.

Prejudice

There are multiple reasons why so few people with disabilities are actively part of the workforce. Firstly, this population faces various biases that hinder employers from hiring them.

“There is this prejudice that many of us have, and it’s largely unconscious, that someone who uses a wheelchair cannot perform a job as well as someone who doesn’t use a wheelchair,” argues Jessica Tuman, head of Voya Cares, a program by Voya Financial focused on individuals with disabilities.

In reality, “studies have shown that people with disabilities are actually more loyal,” she says. “They are equally if not more productive, and they have much less turnover in their roles,” she adds.

On average, companies with a workforce including people with disabilities had revenues 28% higher compared to those that did not employ them, according to a 2018 report by the IT and consulting company Accenture.

Misunderstanding of Cost

While considering candidates, employers might assume that employing people with disabilities could be costly.

“Screen reading programs, visual aids, auditory aids, a standing desk,” says Tuman, “all of these things are what we call reasonable accommodations. A misunderstanding is that these accommodations are really expensive, and employers might be discouraged by that.”

In reality, accommodations for people with disabilities typically cost only around $500, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. “Such a cost is not particularly expensive for most employers,” argues Tuman, who adds that many of these employees “actually come to the workplace with their own assistive equipment.”

Corporate Culture

Companies can allocate resources to ensure that their human resources practices are fair and inclusive. Kim Crowdert, a consultant for DEI in the workplace, recommends the use of LinkedIn.

“We have people who openly talk about their disabilities and their impact on their professional lives,” she points out. “Make hires from LinkedIn,” she adds.

Crowdert also emphasizes the importance of fostering a corporate culture that is open and inclusive.

On her part, Tuman suggests that employers seek assistance for the education and integration of individuals with disabilities from organizations like Disability IN and the Job Accommodation Network.

“The truth is, it’s a choice, right?” Crowdert questions regarding companies’ stance on inclusivity of any group. “Are we going to be an organization that creates access for all?” The answer to this question should be affirmative from all employers, she emphasizes.

Source: Oikonomikos Tachydromos (OT)

The legacy of the Special Olympics

But what is the legacy of these games? Perhaps the visibility, of the participation of people with disabilities in sports, art, and public action without fear and shame. To come forward and draw the spotlight on them. Through visibility and public debate, the realization is that modern society is inherently colorful and polyphonic with equal rights to be afforded to all.

Berlin is a city with a heavy shadow of history. The Olympic Stadium, which gave the impetus for this year’s Special Olympics for athletes with intellectual disabilities, also has its own heavy history. The 1936 Olympics were overshadowed by Hitler’s presence. Olympic ideals had given way to racist and intolerant National Socialist ideology.

Almost 90 years later, the Special Olympics were held last ten days (June 17 to 25) at the same stadium, with 7,000 athletes from 180 countries, approximately 18,000 volunteers, thousands of coaches, staff, family members, 50,000 spectators at the spectacular Opening Ceremony and a total of 300,000 visitors. With the motto “together invincible”, the goal of the Special Olympics was to send a message for more participation, cooperation, understanding, and respect for people with intellectual disabilities.

Impressive and especially with a moving and hopeful presence were the multi-member delegations of Greece and Cyprus, with 71 athletes from Greece and 35 from Cyprus. With admirable successes and dozens of medals in various events: from athletics, swimming, and cycling to basketball, rhythmic and instrumental gymnastics to bowling and bocce. Of course, the medals in the specific competitions are not an end in themselves, because virtually everyone who makes the journey and reaches the international competition field is a winner.

“The road is still long…”

Greece and Cyprus in the Special Olympics

“It was fifteen days full of unique emotions, exceeding our expectations. These global struggles have really contributed to social change through inclusion. They were moments that really brought the world together at a time, like today, when we need it the most,” Special Olympics Cyprus Secretary General Eleni Rossidou tells DW. As he typically says: “We demand the inclusion of our sportsmen and women in society at all levels. Berlin was the opportunity to remind the world that when it comes to inclusion, action must speak louder than words.” For her, however, there is still “a long way to go on a global level” to achieve the goal of fully integrating people with mental disabilities into modern society.

Artemis Vasilikopoulou, national director of Special Olympics Greece, who has participated in Special Olympics since its first steps in Greece, has a similar opinion. “There is still a way to go,” says Ms. Vassilikopoulou to DW. Now, as he explains, an important step has been taken, since May they have been officially recognized as a “federation” and thus can now be financed by the state budget, which facilitates their work. Until now, everything was done with sponsorships and donations from individuals and foundations.

“In the beginning we encountered many problems. But now we have reached a point where everyone knows what Special Olympics is and how important it is to integrate these people through sports in their community, city, region” he says characteristically. The important element in the Greek mission is that many athletes from the Greek province are now participating, who otherwise would not have had these possibilities. “People with disabilities are given the opportunity to live experiences that they would not be able to live otherwise. An athlete from Lefkada entered a plane for the first time”, he tells us characteristically” thanking from the bottom of his heart all the members of the mission for their contribution.

The practical obstacles and the big picture

And for the German government the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin were not just a big gamble, but an “absolute priority”. After all, concepts such as “integration” and “inclusion” are often heard both in the German parliament and in the individual German ministries. A “great event” was spoken by Chancellor Olaf Solz, who gave a double “attendance”, at the opening ceremony and at a bowling match. “Participation is almost more important than winning. Few win, but everyone participates and that’s really great,” said Olaf Solz. “Exemplary games, a model for other sporting events as well” were the Berlin Special Olympics and for Christiane Krajewski, president of the German Special Olympics Federation.

But in reality, even in Germany, the numbers are not particularly encouraging in the field of integration and participation. According to official figures only 8% of people with an intellectual disability in Germany have access to sports activities. A rate that is far from the German government’s target for “accessibility” in sports of around 16%. The ideal for Krajewski would one day be for this percentage to rise to 36%, as it also applies to people without an intellectual disability.

However, even in the Special Olympics of the German capital – which notably claims the 2036 Olympic Games – the difficulties and weaknesses for an effective integration of people with disabilities on equal terms emerged in practice. Despite the enthusiasm and dedication of organizers and volunteers, the long distances, the problems of transportation in the city and between the venues of the games – under the mantle of the environmentally friendly ‘Green Games’, the perhaps hasty training of many volunteers but also a abuse scandal within the German team showed that the organization of such sporting events perhaps requires wider preparation, knowledge and proper urban infrastructure. And of course the right people in the right positions.

But what is the legacy of these games? Perhaps the visibility, the participation of people with disabilities in sports, art, public action without fear and shame. To come forward and draw the spotlight on them. And through visibility and public debate, the realization that modern society is inherently colorful and polyphonic with equal rights to be afforded to all in its entirety.

Source: DW

Research: Diversity in the workplace enhances productivity.

The performance of executives increased by 33% after training in Diversity & Inclusion matters.

The optimal utilization of diversity in the workplace is now a requirement for businesses in their effort to enhance productivity and become more competitive.

According to Adecco, efforts are being made to enhance diversity within businesses, aiming to achieve better understanding and acceptance of differences among people. It is increasingly recognized that inclusion in the workplace of individuals from different nationalities, ages, genders, religions, sexual orientations, as well as people with disabilities, can only bring benefits.

Respect for diversity

An indicative emphasis on respect for diversity in businesses is the fact that, according to the Harvard Business Review, 60% of companies aim for diversity even in administrative positions.

A significant role in promoting diversity and establishing equality in the workplace is played by the continuous education of employees through skills upgrading programs.

A recent study by Ezra highlighted the importance of employee education on Diversity & Inclusion and its impact on productivity. According to the study’s findings, the performance of executives increased by 33% after training in Diversity & Inclusion matters.

Furthermore, 31% of participants who recently left their jobs stated that a key reason for their decision was the lack of advancement opportunities and the absence of educational programs.

Emotional Intelligence

In the same context, a recent study by the Adecco Group highlighted that only 50% of employees globally have access to programs for developing new skills. These findings underscore the need for more employee education on diversity and inclusivity matters, so that businesses can offer equal opportunities to all their staff to thrive and embark on successful paths. Moreover, such training enhances the dynamics of work teams within a company, enabling the leadership to identify potential skill gaps among executives and promptly take measures for their enhancement. Simultaneously, a comprehensive leadership model should be adopted, promoting a secure work environment without exclusions and embracing diversity.

According to Adecco, a crucial component in cultivating a supportive work culture is the development of emotional intelligence, both for employers and employees. By enhancing skills like empathy and self-empowerment, the executives of a company learn to harmoniously collaborate, leveraging opposing viewpoints to achieve innovative goals, while also reinforcing their competitive advantage.

Konstantinos Mylonas, Cluster Head of the Adecco Group in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, states: “One of the most significant changes in recent years is companies’ attitude towards stereotypes, biases, and practices of the past. With more and more companies placing respect, equality, and equitability at the core of their strategy, the need for a leadership model that opposes all forms of discrimination becomes imperative. By fostering a safe and supportive work environment and taking initiatives to educate on these matters, the equal treatment of a company’s workforce is assured.”

Source: Η Ναυτεμπορική

SERVICE DOGS TRANSFORM THE LIVES OF PEOPLE WITH AUTISM AND DISABILITIES

The organization “Assistance Dogs Greece” trains guide dogs for individuals with visual impairments and children with autism, providing them with both practical and emotional support.

In a society where every form of diversity is often met with suspicion, the challenges faced by people with disabilities are numerous. These challenges encompass everyday practical issues, such as navigating the streets, as well as issues related to lack of independence or emotional support – not to mention the issue of stigma, which unfortunately still exists.

“Assistance Dogs Greece,” a non-profit organization founded in August 2021, seeks to facilitate the daily lives of these individuals. The catalyst for its establishment was the significant need identified by the organization’s members for assistance dogs for children with autism, along with the belief that an assistance dog can make a difference.

Guide dogs significantly enhance the safety of individuals facing intellectual disabilities or visual impairments. They assist them practically, increasing their safety on the streets, and also emotionally.

According to Efi Laggaris, the organization’s Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, a dog “teaches the person to take on responsibilities. It also helps with their interaction with other people, aids in their recovery from emotional disarray following a meltdown or emotional outburst, and even contributes to better sleep quality.”

We spoke with her about the purpose, goals, and necessity of such an organization.

What is the purpose and vision of the organization?

“Assistance Dogs Greece” is a non-profit organization that trains dogs for individuals with disabilities and provides them completely free of charge. It relies on donations in order to achieve its goals.

In order to fulfill our vision, we are committed to training assistance dogs according to the highest standards and to educating individuals with disabilities and their caregivers to establish a strong bond with the assistance dog. Additionally, through presentations, we aim to change society’s mindset to include individuals with disabilities as equal and valued members.

Our vision is for every individual with disabilities in our country to be able to live with an assistance dog, providing them and their caregivers with a better quality of life through values such as independence, safety, social respect, emotional support, mental tranquility, and selfless love.

A service dog changes the mindset of society towards individuals with disabilities.

How important is the assistance provided by a service dog in changing societal attitudes towards individuals with disabilities?

We believe that service dogs bring about a significant positive change in the daily lives of people with disabilities. For example, a guide dog for individuals with visual impairments offers safety, autonomy, and confidence when navigating unfamiliar environments. It helps navigate obstacles such as potholes, inaccessible sidewalks, low-hanging branches, etc., enabling the individual to move quickly and safely on the challenging streets of Greece. People with visual impairments now have access to services and experiences that might have been more difficult in the past.

Another crucial aspect where a service dog brings about substantial change is in altering society’s mindset towards individuals with disabilities. In other words, when they are out with their service dog, people look at them with admiration and curiosity, eager to engage in conversations to learn more about the dog and its training.

How do you train a service dog?

Our service dogs are trained to the highest standards set by international organizations, always using positive methods that reward desired behaviors. The training process takes approximately 2 years and begins when the puppy is 10 weeks old.

For a service dog to graduate, they must excel in necessary ability and character tests to ensure the quality of their work.

Do you select dogs from specific breeds?

Currently, we select Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers. This is because these dogs are naturally people-oriented, intelligent, love children, enjoy working, are not aggressive, and their size is suitable both for guide dogs and for anchoring a child with autism, which a smaller dog might not be able to do.

However, in the future, we plan to include other breeds as well, depending on the specific needs of individuals with disabilities.

Once you provide a service dog, are there obligations and responsibilities that the handler must have towards the dog?

The well-being and welfare of the dog are non-negotiable prerequisites for us. Also, handlers must ensure that the dog’s training level is maintained to ensure the safety of everyone involved. For these reasons, our dogs are not given away; they are loaned out under a loan agreement. We remain in contact with the families and handlers for as long as the working years require.

ESPECIALLY IN CASES OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM, THE CHILD FINDS IN THE SERVICE DOG A UNIQUE FRIEND WHOM THEY CAN TRUST AND COMMUNICATE WITH.

– What are the challenges you face during the training of a service dog?

At the moment, the biggest challenge we face is limited financial resources. As mentioned earlier, the training takes about 2 years, which translates to around €20,000 until a service dog is delivered.

– Do the individuals receiving a service dog also need training?

Always, before we deliver a service dog, we ensure that the right “matching” has been done with the handler, because we want both sides to be happy. Thus, part of the training involves educating the handler or even the family.

What kind of relationship develops between the individual and the service dog?

Every case is different and unique, but what we see in almost all cases is a sense of security, trust, respect, and gratitude towards the dog. It’s a relationship of selfless love and care that comes from both sides.

Especially in cases of children with autism, the child finds in the service dog a unique friend whom they can trust and communicate with. Just like in any person with a dog, the companionship they provide is invaluable.

What happens when the dog can no longer assist the individual due to age or other conditions?

Can the individual manage on their own or do they need a new service dog? Individuals with visual impairments, as mentioned earlier, are independent in their mobility, having been trained with a white cane. So, if their dog for some reason (e.g., due to age) exits the program, they are still able to move independently. However, using a guide dog for mobility offers greater safety and speed.

In the case of service dogs for children with autism, our goal is that over time, the child will be able to continue their life without the dog. However, this depends on many factors, as we are dealing with the autism spectrum, which means there are different needs.

You mentioned that you organize programs in schools. What is the purpose of these activities?

Through games and activities, children understand the various ways in which individuals with visual impairments can move, read, play, cook, etc. Depending on the program, children are divided into small groups, learn about Braille writing, close their eyes and play games using their remaining senses, take short walks with a white cane. They are informed about guide dogs and get to know some of them up close.

At the end, all together, students and volunteers, analyze and evaluate what they experienced, in order to convey the message of diversity and the importance of education and awareness.

What do you plan for the future?

Our goal is to integrate 5 new puppies into our program that will become assistance dogs for children with autism. Additionally, we are planning an Awareness Day where families interested in guide dogs can attend. We would be glad to see you there!”

Source: OW

Global Weightlifting Championship in Dubai!

Maria Markou secured the 6th place in the World Bench Press Weightlifting Championship held in Dubai!

In detail, her post:

“6th place at the World Para Powerlifting Championships in Dubai – World Para Powerlifting – World Championships 2023 with 100 kilograms, which also sets a new Cypriot record in the -61 kilograms category.”

“Despite being in a tough day, I managed to secure my spot in the list for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games with a lift of 100 kilograms. I am not satisfied with my performance yesterday, however, that competition now belongs to the past, and I remain committed to my ultimate goal, securing a place in the Paralympics.”

“I would like to extend special thanks to my coach Dimitris Ioannidis, my companion Christina Kalli, and the entire team who stood by my side in this competition. I also want to thank everyone for your support, and I promise that with harder work and dedication, greater successes will come.”

Source: Super Sports FM

Mount Everest: Deaf mountaineers conquer the world’s highest peak

Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger are a deaf couple who run a channel on YouTube. What makes this channel unique is the recording of their experiences of being deaf and climbing the highest peaks of mountains around the world, as reported by CNN.

Their passion for what they do made them the first deaf couple in the world to successfully climb Mount Everest. During their journey, something unexpected happened: they met the second deaf person to reach the summit of this mountain, Hawari Hashim from Malaysia, who achieved this feat on May 18th. Notably, the first person to accomplish this was the Japanese climber Satoshi Tamura in 2016.

ndeed, the three of them achieved this accomplishment a few years after the Nepal Supreme Court lifted the ban on climbing the highest mountain in the Himalayas. This decision led to prideful celebrations among the global Deaf community.

The chronicle of the ban

In 2017, Nepal announced that it would no longer issue climbing permits to individuals with disabilities, including deaf climbers. Some argued that this decision would create more work for the Sherpas, who assist climbers on their ascent.

This ban sparked reactions among all mountaineers with disabilities. Among them was Hari Budha Magar, born in Nepal, who lost both his legs when he stepped on a landmine while serving in Afghanistan. He was one of the pioneers who fought for the lifting of the ban. Eventually, the ban was lifted in 2018.

Magar successfully summited Mount Everest on May 19th, becoming the first double above-the-knee amputee to complete the ascent.

The experience of the couple Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger

The environmental conditions prevailing on Everest – strong winds, swirling snow, darkness – make communication difficult for anyone, whether they are deaf or not.

The couple uses the Big, a voice-to-text translation app, to facilitate communication with locals, guides, and other climbers. However, the signal at high altitude is very poor. Additionally, typing becomes challenging at 25,000 feet, as the extremely low temperatures require them to remove their gloves to use the touchscreen.

In the end, Unger and Lehmann decided to assume that no technology would work for them on Everest and started learning to communicate as much as possible without it. They collaborated with the Sherpas, agreeing to use certain visual cues and signals to be able to communicate. Ultimately, they were able to communicate without relying on the app.

“There were many different obstacles we had to overcome to reach Everest, so when we reached the summit, we felt like we defied the odds,” says Unger. “We were truly proud of ourselves,” she adds.

It is noted that near the summit, Lehmann’s mask filled with ice, and she started to panic. However, she managed to communicate with the Sherpa who was with them, and he quickly fixed the mask, bringing the group back on track.

Such examples prove that nothing in life is impossible.

Source: News 24/7

Luxembourg: An Accessible City for Everyone!

Author: Ablebook

A city is considered accessible when all its residents can live in it and use all objects and services without problems. Luxembourg was awarded as the accessible city of Europe in 2022! Which city will be awarded this year? Of course, the focus is not on the award itself but on the proper practices adopted by urban centers that benefit their citizens.

The EU Access City Award is an award presented annually to cities that make efforts to become accessible and is organized by the European Commission. The award’s inception was in 2010, and it serves as a reminder to cities about the importance of being accessible to everyone. The awarded cities and countries implement “designs for all.” The EU Access City Award provides European cities the opportunity to showcase their efforts in becoming accessible to all.

Specifically, Luxembourg city, built on a rocky terrain with steep cliffs and deep valleys, faces challenges in terms of accessibility due to its hilly and narrow roads. However, it won the award because it constantly designs and works on making its infrastructure and services accessible to all citizens and visitors in various aspects such as employment, education, culture, tourism, recreation, and transportation. The city’s philosophy is to plan and implement measures, projects, and infrastructure in direct consultation with the citizens affected by them.

Measures of an accessible city:

Measures of an accessible city include, among others, free public transportation, adaptations of existing infrastructure to enable barrier-free movement and access for all citizens, and the creation of new projects with all necessary features. For instance, Bluetooth is installed in public transportation to serve people with visual impairments, and new digital technologies provide useful information such as the distance to the next station, etc. Additionally, an annual event called “Dinner in the Dark” is organized to raise awareness about the experiences and needs of people with visual impairments.

Indeed, in Finland, people with disabilities have the opportunity to communicate with architects of new projects in advance and describe their needs, ensuring that these needs are taken into consideration from the outset. Additionally, a straightforward and logical measure is the provision of sign language interpretation during municipal council sessions.

All these measures, whether simple or complex, expensive or inexpensive, are crucial for all residents of a city, especially for people with disabilities, specific needs, and the elderly. In many of our cities in Cyprus, transportation and related information are not accessible to these individuals, which means they cannot fully participate in the community like other residents.

These cities can serve as role models for our own cities, inspiring individuals with a vision in local governance to study and adapt their policies to meet the needs of their communities. While each city’s needs may differ, it is essential to listen to the needs of all citizens to make our cities accessible to everyone.

To reiterate, a city is considered accessible when all its residents can live in it and use all objects and services without problems. Luxembourg was awarded as the accessible city of Europe in 2022!

Source: European CommissionEurocitiesEU Social, https://www.ameaplus.gr/, https://e-thessalia.gr/h-poli-toy-loyxemvoyrgoy-i-nikitria-poli-toy-vraveioy-prosvasimis-polis-2022-eu-access-city-award/