The participation of children with sensory disabilities in disaster risk reduction

University of Thessaly, Greece

The aim of this workshop is to make the participants aware regarding the rights and the needs of children with sensory disabilities in relation to disaster risk reduction. The participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their role and propose accessible and inclusive scenarios for children with sensory disabilities

 

Presentation

The aim of the workshop was to discuss how hazard education contributes to the development of disaster resilience among children who are deaf or hard of hearing and children with visual impairments.

First we informed our participants about the aim of the workshops and we introduced ourselves. The focus was placed on two members of our team, one of whom was deaf and the other who was blind. Also, there were two Greek Sign Language (GsL) interpreters, as the main principle of our workshop was to be accessible. The two individuals with disabilities spoke about how they experienced different risks and disasters in past years. This was very important for all our participants, considering that most of them did not have any previous experience with individuals with sensory disabilities. All participants had also the opportunity to watch how the two individuals with sensory disabilities communicated and how they had access to communication through the use of technology and GSL interpreting.

Second , all participants, including the  workshop organisers were divided into groups in order to discuss ‘how they would develop hazard education activities that would enhance disaster resilience among children who are deaf or hard of hearing and children with visual impairments’. It was particularly important that the individuals with disabilities as well as the rest of the Greek CUIDAR team were part of this group work, sensitizing and informing the rest of the group members regarding accessibility issues. When each group finished their discussion, they had the chance to exchange their ideas with everybody after the workshop was completed.

In the third part, the CUIDAR team from the University of Thessaly in Greece made a brief presentation regarding the CUIDAR workshops in Greece.

[Magda Nikolaraizi, University of Thessaly, Greece]

 

The workshop successfully tackled a relevant topic (namely the participation of children) in connection with disaster risk reduction and raised awareness regarding the needs of people with different disabilities. The workshop emphasized need to start ‘disaster education’ the earliest age possible due to the various barriers children with disabilities need to face, such as communication of/with deaf people who cannot maintain visual contact for a sustained period. The presenters elaborated on the need for the adaptation of the content/process/product/formal and non-formal learning environment to the needs of the children. The main message of the first part of the workshop was that the main barriers are related to communication. After the initial remarks and the description of the flaws in the management of disaster risk reduction two adult presenters shared their disaster-related experiences. One presented (who was deaf) experienced a serious forest fire, and the other one (who was blind) experienced two earthquakes.

After their presentation the audience was divided into five smaller groups. The main task of the groups was to discuss the question “how can hazard education contribute to the development of disaster resilience among children who are deaf or hard of hearing and children with visual impairments?”. The groups focused on three aspects: platform (where?), content (what?) and method (how?). The workshop continued with a debate where the groups shared their views with each other and argued for/against the pros and cons of the various approaches. The workshop concluded with the introduction of the CUIDAR approach.

[Istvan Borocz, member of the Ethics Board]

 

This workshop aimed to develop participants’ insight into the experiences of children with sensory impairments, of disaster risk reduction work and of being involved in disaster situations themselves.  The session began with a short presentation that noted the marginalisation of disabled children from disaster education work and identified examples of ways in which this occurred.  Following this, two adult presenters, one who has a visual impairment and one who is deaf, vividly described their experiences of being caught up in disaster situations as children or young adults.  These presentations provided insight into how young disabled people can be marginalised in such situations but also how they can make use of prior knowledge in order to make safe decisions.

In the second part of the session, workshop participants broke into small groups and explored how disaster risk reduction work could be inclusive of children with sensory impairments.  Participants explored where such work could take place (e.g. home, school), how the material environment should be organised, and what kinds of methods could be used in order to promote participation.  Groups fed back about their discussion, and the session ended with a presentation summarising the approaches used by the project team.  The workshop enabled discussion about Presentationpractical considerations when working in participatory and inclusive ways with children with sensory impairments.

[Dharman Jeyasingham, member of the Ethics Board]