The city of Poznań is the fifth largest in Poland with a population of 550742.
The population includes around 92 000 people with disabilities (15% of the total number of inhabitants).
The natural catchment of the rivers Warta and Cybina is the main factor influencing the functional and spatial structure of the city. About 60% of the potential of the modern city, the medieval Old Town and the 19th century downtown is on the west bank of the river Warta.
The old urban structure and architecture is a major challenge to ensuring access for people with disabilities
Internet portal dedicated to people with disabilities
Poznań has set up an internet portal dedicated to people with disabilities. The portal contains current information about events in various fields, such as work, education and law, as well as sections dealing with the accessibility of urban space (public buildings, transport, etc.).
The portal was developed by Poznań City Town Hall employees responsible for the social integration of people with disabilities.
The portal is based on the knowledge and experiences of people involved in the city information services, specialists in new communication technologies, integration experts and representatives of non-governmental organisations working with people with various types of disabilities
“Poznań in the last 20 years has become a friendlier city for people with disabilities. Once impossible things become possible (e.g. fully accessible city bus transport). The source of our success is the cooperation of all stakeholders. The best experts on the accessibility of the city are the people with disabilities, and their voice is decisive. We still have a lot of work to do towards the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our city, but we are eager to do it”. Józef Solecki, Manager of the Integration of People with Disabilities Section in Poznań City Hall
The idea of setting up and implementing the portal came from an analysis of the needs of people with disabilities and their families.
Scope of the Portal
The portal includes addresses of important institutions supporting people with disabilities and information about the activities of non-governmental organisations.
There is a section devoted to the accessibility of urban space, public transport, sports, tourism, etc.
In other sections called ‘Events’ and ‘Info boards’, editors post messages and invitations to interesting events for people with disabilities and their families.
There is also a section from the Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Poznań for People with Disabilities which provides information about current campaigns, projects and programmes, including the Programme ‘Direction and tasks of Poznań for the social inclusion of people with disabilities for the years 2012–20’.
Verifying and updating information
The portal is run by three editors, who are supervised by the manager of the Integration of People with Disabilities Section in Poznań City Hall. Before putting information on the portal it has to be verified and accepted by the manager.
To ensure that the portal remains useful, editors systematically carry out updates. These cover a wide range of topics including national and local legislation together with current information from external portals, newspapers, televisions and publications.
All non-governmental organisations, private companies and public institutions can send their latest information and announcements, which are posted on the portal.
Because of the open nature of the portal, individual people with disabilities also have the right to suggest material to update and enrich the portal.
In addition, the portal contains annually updated reports on all actions taken for people with disabilities in Poznań by public and non-public institutions cooperating with the City (cultural institutions, art and sport centres, social welfare centre, NGOs, individual Town Hall departments, etc.).
Involving disabled and older people
The ideas that inspired the portal authors were openness and inclusion. The co-creators include the manager of the Integration of People with Disabilities Section in Poznań City Hall, the editors, the Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Poznań for People with Disabilities, experts, private companies, public institutions, NGOs and all the residents of the city, including older and disabled people and their families.
Both the official city website and the portal have been adapted in collaboration with the community of people with disabilities.
The portal takes account of the specific communication and information needs of people with different types of disabilities (people with visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual disability).
The portal does not have a separate source of funding. It is part of Poznań City Hall’s human and financial resources.
All those involved (editors, integration specialists, etc.) also have other areas of work. Everyone directly responsible for the functioning of the portal is an employee of Poznań City Hall’s Integration of People with Disabilities Section.
The portal development (for example, adaptation for the needs of people with a specific type of disability, implementing the modern techniques of communication and information) is also funded by Poznań City Hall human and financial resources.
Specific future plans for the portal development will require external funding.
The portal is very popular: in 2013, there were almost 5 000 unique visitors a month.
Increasing numbers of disabled people are benefitting from the portal in conjunction with the new information and communication technologies.
Future plans include:
designing and implementing an information portal covering access to public places;
increasing the number of easy-to-read texts for people with intellectual disability and hearing impairments;
developing and updating Poznań’s internet portal for disabled people — new information, facilitating access to the portal for people with different disabilities, etc.;
incorporating new communication technologies and increasing the level of interactivity (subject to availability of funds);
exchanging experiences with international partners
Training for Poznań City Hall employees and District Councillors
Staff at Poznań City Hall and its Municipal Units have been given training in functional barriers affecting disabled people.
The general objective of the training has been to improve the quality of life of disabled residents of the city of Poznań by implementing a policy of equality and non-discrimination in accessibility to public spaces and services and in developing and improving the work of public institutions.
Training has also been provided for District Councillors.
Objectives and Topics
Specific objectives of the training for employees of the City have included:
raising the awareness of people responsible for creating local urban space;
developing a positive attitude among Poznań City Hall employees and District Councillors towards clients with disabilities;
increasing the competence of Poznań City Hall employees and District Councillors in the field of services for disabled clients;
extending their competence in communicating with people with disabilities;
broadening the competence of employees responsible for the creation of urban space;
acquiring knowledge about the specific needs of people with disabilities
Training topics have included:
specific needs of people with different disabilities;
To date, 354 employees have been trained in 27 sessions comprising 176 hours of training.
In addition, 600 elected District Councillors representing local communities have also been trained in a total of 9 sessions.
The main objectives of their training have been to:
increase their understanding of the needs of disabled people, particularly in terms of access to public space;
raise awareness about the importance of considering the needs of people with disabilities in investment projects;
increase their competence in creating public spaces accessible to people with disabilities;
increase their understanding of the concept and principles of Universal Design
“Poznań implementing a strategy for the social integration of people with disabilities for 2012–20 not only responds to the needs of people with disability, but primarily really supports disabled residents, their families and non-governmental organisations working on their behalf. Now, active people with disabilities can use the tools and assistance to fulfil needs, and also their dreams. Poznań has taken a huge step forward. As a person with a disability I can fulfil myself professionally and socially, overcoming daily difficulties at the same time”. Marian Jakub Suchanowski, Trainee Lawyer
Training for the City Hall employees was carried out in partnership with the Friends of Integration Association from Warsaw. This is one of the oldest and most professional nationwide organisations. People with disabilities work in this organisation and participate in all training.
The methodology of the training was innovative in both form and content (contract, communication, interaction with the participants, materials).
Training for District Councillors was delivered by the Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Poznań for People with Disabilities and manager of the Integration of People with Disabilities Section in Poznań City Hall.
Training sessions were financed from the resources of Poznań City Hall.
Benefits of Training
Clear benefits have already been seen as a result of the training. These include improved quality of services in the City Hall and increased motivation and positive attitudes towards disabled people.
Long-term effects of the training are already being seen in the decisions and investment plans of District Councils, which contain specific investments and solutions for people with disabilities.
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