Getting the disabled in touch with nature
Convention „ Getting the disabled in touch with nature”
In contrast to Anglo American countries, barrier-free is a new planning concept that is still at the beginning in German speaking countries. Michaela Künzl presented a model management plan, “barrier-free in the national park of Berchtesgarden” which focuses on the interaction between experts in the fields of environmental education, environmentalism and work with the disabled. With this plan, she wants to set an example for other big nature reserves. Markus Keplinger, head of the therapy workshop in the care centre in Kainbach, explained what care centers for the disabled expect of the programmes to get the disabled in touch with nature and of the people involved in these programmes. Barbara Holzer presented her successfully implemented barrier-free adventure walk “forest of the senses”. For this walk, she deliberately plays on the effects of nature as a source of energy.
Susanne Moosbrugger talked about the history of integration and gave an example of current approaches to integration: the primary school Kalkleiten, where the teaching concept “Jena-Plan” has been adopted this year (2007). Jürgen Einwanger, of the Austrian Alpine Association, discussed what was expected of the “getting in touch with nature” programmes and introduced the SPOT seminar “Integrative Youth Work” given by Ulrike Schwarz.
Josef Limberger, from the upper Austrian association for environmental protection, presented his new guide book “Hiking guide 3” at the convention. The destrongions in the guide combine detailed information on the routes, infrastructure for the disabled and gastronomic options. Leo Pürrer presented the criteria of the disabled self-help group Hartberg, for barrier-free holiday offers. He referred to their comprehensive database which lists barrier-free hotels, leisure institutions and gastronomic establishments in Styria, each of which has been inspected and evaluated for the last 15 years. Franz Handler and Verena Langer gave an overview of existing barrier-free and integrative offers for getting the disabled in touch with nature in the German speaking region. They presented the demands and preparations in the course of the planning of the project that preceded the convention.
On the second day, workshops and guided tours were taking place, providing opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences.
Conclusions, suggestions and agreements of the discussions:
|Opportunities to experience nature are ubiquitous. Training and attentiveness are required to convey these opportunities to others, especially the physically challenged.|
|Since various institutions are already addressing this issue, exchanging experiences can be very helpful.|
|Further excursions were arranged by some participants.|
|Working in groups was helpful for coming up with new ideas. A theoretical debate, together with practical actions, provides a fresh approach to sensory perception.|
|A collection of games which provide opportunities for sensory perception will be essential.|
|In order to work with the disabled, it is important to know about the effects of impaired sensory perception. What is possible and necessary? What needs to be considered?|
|A standardized label (pictogram) is essential for all outdoor leisure facilities and offers for the disabled. All municipalities, tourism organizations, establishments, and leisure faculties should have a standardized labeling system, which would help people with disabilities of various kinds.|
|Barrier-free facilities should be communicated on a standardized basis. Easily comprehensible, meaningful and standardized expressions are therefore needed.|
|In order to coordinate all institutions, organizations and activities which are dealing with issues of the disabled, it is necessary to establish a centre to supervise their networking activities.|
|In order to be able to offer “getting the disabled in touch with nature” programmes, such as the ones offered by “forest education trainers”, and nature and landscape guides, an additional qualification is essential. To this end, a meeting is held in the nature park Mürzer Oberland to discuss the contents of such a training programme.|
|Tourism in general is an important partner for many of the issues discussed above. For sectors like the leisure industry, gastronomy and accommodation, the target group of disabled people is not to be underestimated, with respect to both their number and their financial power.|
SPOT Seminare, Alpenvereinsjugend
|Anforderungen an die Naturvermittlung – Konsequenzen und Ausbildungsangebote|
|Franz Handler und Verena Langer
Verband der Naturparke Österreichs
|Übersicht über bestehende Angebote und spezielle Anforderungen bei der Planung|
Naturpark Mürzer Oberland
|Naturbegegnung im „Wald der Sinne“ – Hintergrund und Erfolgsfaktoren eines barrierefreien Erlebnisweges|
|Anforderungen und Erwartungen an integrative Naturvermittlungsangebote|
|Konzept „Barrierefreiheit“ im Nationalpark Berchtesgaden|
|Der neue „Wanderführer 3“ – Natur in Oberösterreich barrierefrei erleben|
|Was bedeutet Integration eigentlich?|
|Kriterien barrierefreier Urlaubsangebote|
*) On the German homepage the presentations of the referees can be downloaded.
We thank all participants and are looking forward to future collaborations!
Verband der Naturparke Österreichs
Oö. Akademie für Umwelt und Natur