Syndicate content

Training in Austria

This is a report of the third and final training that took place in Vienna, Austria from the 8th to the 13th of March 2018 and focused on the theme of access to sports and culture.

A group of fourteen Belgian participants flew from Brussels to Austria on the 8th of March, including ten blind or partially sighted participants and four sighted guides. Some members of the group had participated in the other trainings, but a few others were new to the project. With such a large group, they successfully arrived in Vienna on Thursday night and settled in their hotel ahead of the first day of training the following day.

Starting the training with introductions at the Austrian National Federation for the Blind and Partially Sighted, the first day of training included an extended visit to the Austrian parliament and a meeting with Ms. Kira Grünberg, a spokesperson for people with disabilities who works for the Austrian People’s Party. Having become physically disabled herself after an accident, participants commented that the discussions they had with her were truly inspiring and will resonate with them for a long time. Following this meeting, the group enjoyed a guided tour through Hofburg parliament, before the participants spread around the city of Vienna for some sightseeing, to visit the opera or to attend a classical concert.

Saturday started with a series of workshops on topics including Accessible tourism, National and European disability politics and a workshop continued from the training in Liege Titled Taboo Topics and Questions you never dared to ask. After lunch the group enjoyed an accessible guided tour at the Austrian Museum of Art History, which was highly praised by some of the Belgian group because of the audio description and tactile supports available to accompany the tour. For the evening participants had the option to attend holy mass at St. Stephan’s Cathedral or to visit the ballet.

The Belgian participants standing outside the entrance of the Museum with some of the Austrian participants. Belges

The following day was dedicated to workshops focused on communication training and on exchanging information about guide dogs in Austria, Belgium and Poland, finishing this productive day enjoying dinner at a local restaurant.

The groups continued the communication training in a second workshop on Monday, before splitting up after lunch either to play blind football, or to hear a lecture on Johann III Sobieski. Too soon it was time for the farewell Dinner at another local restaurant called Heurigen.

The final day of the training included a continuation of the first workshops that took place on Friday and a final presentation session, before bidding goodbye to the Austrian and Polish participants and once again heading to the airport for the journey home.

In the evaluation meeting after the trip, participants commented that they found the project hugely beneficial in many ways; some were able to learn from others who live with the same conditions as themselves, others made firm friends and already plan a reunion in the near future.

The Belgian group presented their experiences and feelings from the “Beyond Barriers and Borders” project in an intercultural evening held at the VIEWS office, where people came to share good food and drink and to exchange their experiences of travel and intercultural exchanges.

It can certainly be agreed that the “Beyond Barriers and Borders” project has been an immensely positive experience for everyone involved, and we can only hope to have similarly successful intercultural projects in the future.