Bridge CRPD-SDGs is an intensive training programme that aims to support organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and disability rights advocates to develop an inclusive (all persons with disabilities) and comprehensive (all human rights) CRPD perspective on development, including the post-2015 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to reinforce their advocacy for inclusion and realisation of rights of persons with disabilities (from the International Disability Alliance website).
I was asked by Tchaurea Fleury, who is the International Disability Alliance Senior Advisor and Bridge CRPD-SDGs Coordinator, to be a co-facilitator during the Bridge Training programme held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The programme was carried out at Marriott Hotel from the 26th of November until the 5th of December.
I have contributed to the Bridge programme in the past through my Inclusion International role as the Asia Pacific Self Advocacy council representative. I was supported by Trish Grant who is the Inclusion International regional council representative for Asia Pacific.
Approximately fifty people attended. Thirty were there to attend the training and the rest included support people and people from the International Disability Alliance. One of the participants identified as having autism.
I already knew three people from Fiji and Samoa at the event. We had met before as part of our work with the Pacific Disability Forum. Altogether, there were ten co facilitators. Some I had met before at different events over the years.
We had 2 days preparation before starting the programme. The first day was a co-facilitators day where we met each other. Then went over the schedule and looked at what sessions we wanted to help co-facilitate. It was a good opportunity to get to know each other, as some of us hadn’t met or worked together before.
On the second day of preparation, we met with participants with a range of disabilities. We went over the information and the programme with them.
We all looked at the prepared ‘word bank’ so we could understand what some of the words meant. We offered to give the participants any help and support that they needed throughout the days of the training.
Next, started the seven days of Bridge training. I found the whole training interesting. I learnt more about the United Nations Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
I was very glad of Trish’s help with breaking things down and explaining them to me in a way that I could understand. She did this throughout the whole time we were there.
I enjoyed watching the participants playing the game of life, where they split up into small groups and they selected a person from there group to take part in the game.
This was where the groups had to think if the person they selected was being excluded because of their disability or because of their economic status, place of residence, or sex.
I helped to co-facilitate a session on respect for difference, where acceptance of disability is part of human diversity. People wrote down three things about themselves and put the paper in a box. I drew a piece of paper out and people with the same things in common joined me in the middle which was quite fun. We did this a few times.
I then co-facilitated a session where people split up into different groups and were given a role play with different examples. Some of which were access to education and access to banking services. One group had to think from the person with a disability’s perspective and the other group had to think from the provider or organisation’s perspective.
I found it interesting learning about the 4 A’s and Q which are Availability, Affordability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Quality. And how they all go together to make things better for people with disabilities.
I enjoyed the reasonable accommodation session, using the examples of a football match. Reasonable accommodation means necessary and appropriate modification of services, equipment and facilities. For example, open to the public signage in Braille and other easy to read and understand formats, as well as documents in plain language and Easy Read versions.
I co-facilitated a session on self-determination and autonomy with Trish’s support, where I used PowerPoint illustrations to describe my different points. My points included; being treated equally before the law, getting justice, treating disabled people as people first, independent living and being part of the community and health.
When the groups had to do a session called ‘45 minutes one article’ and present to the bridge audience, I was able to explain to the group who chose Article 19 what it meant with Trish’s help and support. It gave the group some guidelines and a starting point to work from.
It was interesting listening and watching the groups working together to present the articles that they had been given, as some of the people had different kinds of disabilities, spoke different languages and had never worked together.
I personally found some of the training material quite hard to read and to understand as most formats for the sessions were not in an Easy Read format - an opportunity for improvement for future training programmes.
I was a little disappointed to see only one other person with autism there, as I had heard that there were going to be three other people with intellectual disabilities attending the training. I hope in the future to see more people with intellectual disabilities being encouraged to attend and participate.
Overall, I really enjoyed the opportunity to mix with other people with disabilities from different countries within the Asia Pacific region, and also to hear what is happening for people with disabilities in their countries.