<-- Course participants visiting NUDIPU, an umbrella organization of persons with disabilities in Uganda
Our project organized in a fruitful cooperation with the North-South-South Sustainable Development and Human Rights Network a one-week course at Makerere University during 15-19 March 2010.
Around 30 students from Universities of Turku/Åbo Akademi, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Pretoria and Makerere. Also the teachers came from these different home universities to share their experience. The themes were much around the UN CRPD and different general and specific topics around the Convention were discussed, for example right to non-discrimination, right to education and right health. The methods of learning during the course included lectures, working groups, moot court and a field visit.
The course was very important for our research project, since we had originally planned to teach a course both in Turku (which took place in December 2009) and in Kampala. So it was nice to complete this task.
About half of the course participants were persons with disabilities, also some of the teaching staff were persons with disabilities. Of course, we faced some challenges already in the early planning stage of the course. The challenge was to find accessible venue and accommodation. Finally, all the other participants stayed at the Makerere Guesthouse, while persons who could not manage there because of the inaccessibility had to stay in a hotel. Also during the course, there were some challenges relating to accommodation needs of persons with disabilities. The organizers managed those rather well in the circumstances, but...
The patterns of challenges faced during the courses in Turku and in Kampala were quite the same. First, the importance of facing the challenges in the very early planning stage is crucial (including budgeting for accommodations). Second, paying serious attention to the accommodations needs of the participants, during the course is crucial, it happens too easily that the course just proceeds and not enough attention is paid to providing accommodation and asking and asking again from the participants, what are their needs. Third, getting feedback and analyzing that after the course is important.
We want to pay our attention to analyzing the three aspects mentioned above. After and during the courses, there were voices raised, that accommodation was not provided in the sense they should have been provided. Especially we want to look closer at what went on in the mindset of persons with disabilities. We will elaborate these topics in a forthcoming working paper with a provisional title 'Observations on Equality and Reasonable Accommodation of Persons with Disabilities during Two Academic Courses on Human Rights and Disability in Turku (2009) and Kampala (2010)'.