DCDD Learning Session, Presentation "How Inclusive are We?" by Paulien Bruijn, October 2, 2019

On October 2nd 2019, The Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development (DCDD) organized a learning session on the inclusion of people with disabilities at all organizational levels and in development projects. An important event. Because honestly, how inclusive are we really?

  • by Duveke de Gaay Fortman, 2 October 2019 Amsterdam

A warm room full of people with their hearts in the right place, striving for a better world. A session with peer support and practical tips and tricks for a handicap-inclusive organization. Here, experiences are shared and even prizes are awarded.

The learning session takes place in the Parnassos building in Utrecht. The Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development believes in the power of inclusion of disabilities in society. By bringing individuals and development organizations together, DCDD hopes to exchange experiences and create mutual understanding.

Plans for inclusion

This year, DCDD decided to launch the “Small Grants” concept. Four times € 4,000 is awarded to four organizations that are committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the development sector. The day begins with seven presentations from organizations that explain how they intend to achieve this inclusion and how they intend to share their experiences within the DCDD network. Because the organizations present their plans not only to the jury but also to each other, DCDD hopes to facilitate an exchange of ideas. After the presentations, the jury asks the necessary questions and deliberates. The jury consists of three people, including two ladies in wheelchairs.

Exchange of experiences

This is followed by a learning session led by Paulien Bruijn, inclusion consultant at Light for the World. The attendees include people with a disability, organizations that stand up for people with a disability, the DCDD board, a mother with a hearing-impaired daughter and students who are researching various topics related to disabilities. Via a cardboard keyboard, a woman with multiple disabilities indicates to be grateful to be present. The session is interactive. “What does inclusion within an organization actually mean?” Bruijn asks the audience, and “What is the advantage of inclusion?” There is a buzz in the room when the attendees begin to share their stories with each other. “Inclusion means not only the inclusion of the disabled but also of different sexes, of all colors and all ages,” adds the mother of the hearing-impaired daughter.

The prize winners

During the break, Lieke Scheewe, policy advisor for DCDD, and the jury announce the winners of the Small Grants. The winning organizations are Tunafasi, the Liliane Fund, Dorcas and Soft Tulip. Among the plans presented are, among other things, a play in Egypt where people with disabilities can perform something beautiful together and a project for inclusion of children with disabilities in Eastern Congo. Together with the members of the jury, the winners pose for a photo with their checks. “A great initiative from DCDD and I am super proud,” says one of the prize winners.

An important day on which all attendees are reminded of the importance that everyone in our society can participate. Young or old, fat or thin, disabled or not, we all belong and we all contribute. Only then we have an inclusive society.

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