People First

People First Germany is a self-advocacy organisation representing people with learning difficulties and people with complex functional impairments.

 

Full membership is open only to people with these disabilities. Other persons can become associate members without voting rights. Other organisations can also be associate members. The 5-member board is made up wholly of full members (people with learning difficulties or complex functional impairments). Huw Ross is one of the board members. He is supported by Douglas Ross.

 

People First Germany was founded in 2001. It is active in all parts of Germany. Its activities include:

 

  • promotion of “Easy Language” and other paths of augmentative or alternative communication
  • People First Germany has published a dictionary of Easy Language in German.
  • representation at the political level
  • translation into Easy language
  • proof-reading of texts translated into Easy Language by people who prefer this form of communication (users)
  • other projects relevant for people with learning difficulties and / or complex functional impairments.

 

This year People First Germany is running a project financed by the Federal Ministry of Health on “Health care needs for Everyone”. This includes seminars on health awareness, choice of doctors and medical care, the use of Easy Language in medical contexts, and accessibility.

 

  • People First Germany also offers seminars for elected representatives in sheltered workshops on self-determination and protecting rights in the workshop context.
  • People First Germany has an office in Kassel, in which half the staff has learning difficulties.
  • People First Germany has associations with other People First groups in Europe.

 

Much of the work carried out by People First Germany is done by volunteers. Some important areas of such voluntary work are:

 

  • membership (Huw Ross together with Douglas Ross from Parents for Integration) of the steering committee of the „brk-Allianz“, a campaign group encompassing some 80 organisations and charities assembled to present a users’ report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Germany, to be laid before the UN in 2013. A UPR document has already been presented, see at: 
  • www.brk-allianz.de text in English and German.

 

  • Ongoing advocacy for universal accessibility of people with learning difficulties and complex functional impairments through membership of Huw Ross on the board of the „National Accessibility Agency“, see at: 
  • www.barrierefreiheit.de

 

  • Promotion of life-long learning: this is one of the fundamental principles embraced by People First Germany as defined in its statement of fundamental issues.

 

  • Raising the issue of accessible communication in education, in the public administration, and in the political arena by demanding the use of Easy Language in all contexts.

 

  • Insistence on the principle that texts translated into Easy Language have to be proof-read by users of Easy Language

 

  • Upholding the principle of self-determination for people with learning difficulties through self-advocacy in all walks of life.

 

  • Participation in the federal government’s Anti-discrimination Agency programme for 2013.

 

People First Germany is a registered association elying on modest membership dues (the members mostly receive transfer payments) and donations. It implements government-funded service projects, again at a modest level, and is subject to government audit procedures.

 

People First Germany sees its contribution to the project as a whole in the dissemination of the idea of Easy Language and Easy Communication as a path to support the self-determined participation of people with learning difficulties in civic life. We have established that our Dictionary of Easy Language has increased access to public life and to the formation of self-concepts of the users.

 

We intend to demonstrate the paths we took to make these forms of communication an increasingly accepted part of public life in Germany; we believe that the other participant nation groups can benefit from our experience and promote the ideas and concrete means of implementing them (e.g. dictionaries in their own national contexts), and to follow up on our campaigns that have been useful in establishing Easy Language in Germany.

 

It is now more difficult to ignore our demands for accessible information and communication in the context of public life in Germany.

DEVELOPED BY CARAVAN 2000

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ELLA Agreement Number: 2013 - 3444/001 - 001 Project Number: 539390-LLP-1-2013-1-DE-GRUNDTVIG-GNW STELLA: Agreement Number: 2017-1-DE02-KA204-004167