Forum experts discussed problems and achievements in the socio-cultural inclusion sphere

On November 16, as part of the VII Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum, a talk show about sociocultural inclusion was held.

In the General Staff of the Hermitage the experts discussed availability of culture, talked about successful projects in this area and about employment of people with disabilities. The conversation was attended by the representatives of government, theaters and museums working in this area.

The talk show “Socio-Cultural Inclusion: How Can Disabled People Enjoy Unlimited Opportunities in Culture” began with a show of the theater school "Inclusion. School. St. Petersburg." After the experts discussed creation of the accessible environment, specialized employment and adaptation of cultural works for people with different categories of disabilities. In particular, the state at the legislative level for several years has been working with the problem of the cultural institutionsaccessibility. 

“In 2015, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation raised the relevant question: as a result, the order was issued to conduct accessibility monitoring to understand how cultural institutions comply with all the norms of the social protection legislation of people with disabilities. For three years, the indicator in terms of the cultural institutions employees training has grown 6.5 times. If we talk about the events accessible to people with disabilities, their number has tripled, while the availability rate of regional cultural facilities has risen by 52% since 2011. The dynamics isreally observed, the process has forward. In addition, all institutions understand that they must not only make facilities and services open, but also involve persons with disabilities in cultural processes”, - said Elena Blagireva, adviser to the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation.

In a talk show format, the experts talked about experience, achievements and difficulties of the Russian regions on the way to creating an accessible environment and content for people with different needs. Thus, the regional and federal museums are actively engaged in development of the inclusive programs that are accessible to everyone.

“The Yeltsin Center is not only a museum, but also a cultural center: we have from 80 to 100 events a month. Beinglocated in the regional center, we also manage to do the inclusive programs. In particular, we taught our staff to communicate with the guide dogs, and for everydog there is a bowl at the reception desk. The Yeltsin Center tours are also adapted: we rely on the sensory characteristics of each group. In such programs, consistency and regularity, accessibility, bidirectionality are needed”, - said Elena Vozmishcheva, curator of the Yeltsin Center inclusive programs.

Also on the talk show, the question was raised about the audio description commentatorwork in Russia and abroad. This person describes in detail for blind people and people with visual impairment objects, actions and phenomena - everything that happens on the movie screen or the theater stage.

“The main problem in Russia is that the audio description commentator as a profession does not exist, but it is necessary and in demand, it exists in all countries and is considered elite. Also in our country there is an incredible problem of the quality of such work performance, in particular in the film industry. The fact is that the Cinema Foundation and the Ministry of Culture of Russia, helping the producers financially, do not issue a film distribution certificate until the audio description is made to the film. The level of some audio description is terrifying: the blind people complain that it is better to have no description than this one..

I want to convey that this is a serious profession: making audio description takes at least 2 weeks, 8 hours a day, and there are very few professional audio description commentatorin the country. This work should be done by an expert who has at least a certificate of education, since the blind audience deserves to receive competent, intelligent support”, - shared Irina Bezrukova, audio description commentator, co-founder of the Sergei Bezrukov Foundation for Support and Development of Socio-Cultural Projects.

In addition, the talk show participants raised the issue of inclusive tourism. The experts have raised the controversial question of whether such routes should be designed only for people with disabilities, or they should initially be created so that everyone can visit tourist facilities, regardless of physical abilities.

“In my opinion, cultural tourism is a universal way of learning culture. Such routes should be interesting and accessible to people of any age, educational level and physical abilities. For this there is an inclusive, barrier-free tourism. Its birth in Russia began in 2008–2009, when accessible spaces for people with disabilities began to appear in the largest museums: mnemocards, walkers, ramps, and so on. But in my opinion, the development initiative should come not from above, from the state or museums, but from below from the producers of tourist services”, -shared Miguel Palacio, head of the cultural routes experts association Shrine of Unshared Christianity.

At the talk show the recent results in the field of socio-cultural inclusion were also announced. Thus, OOO PHILIP MORRIS SALES AND MARKETING is a leading international tobacco company - since 2017, it has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Deaf Blind Support Foundation Connection and participates in implementation of the federal program “Support and social integration of people with simultaneous hearing and vision impairment in Russia". The experts shared the successful outcome of such cooperation.

“As part of the long-term approach implementation aimed at helping those who are most in need of it, our company cooperates with the Foundation Connection The foundation work became for me an example of highly professional systemic social activity. We are very pleased that the financial participation of the company allowed the foundation to carry out important projects that were discussed today. We are proud of our cooperation and express our willingness to continue to support the activities of Connection.

Today we have signed a memorandum on creation of a resource center for people with a simultaneous hearing and vision impairment. It will be opened next year in the Lomonosov district of the Leningrad region and will become the rehabilitation center for the deaf-blind people living in the north-west Russia”, - said Irina Zhukova, director for sustainable development and corporate programs of Philip Morris International affiliated companies in Russia.

Olivier Coode (France), director of the Crystal Theatre of UazoMoush Company, KseniaDmitrieva,director of the Osobyyvzglyad(Special Look ) program, Anton Belov, Director of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Sergey Morozov artistic director and director of the Theater On Liteyny, Olga Stvolovaactress , curator of the school "Inclusion" in Novosibirsk also spoke at the talk show. The organizer and moderator of the event was Dmitry Polikanov, President of the Deaf Blind Support Foundation Connection 

The talk show was held by Deaf Blind Support Foundation Connection and the Inclusion Center for Creative ProjectsImplementation with support of OOO PHILIP MORRIS SALES AND MARKETING. 


About Deaf Blind Support Foundation Connection

The Foundation mission is to become a conductor between the world of the deaf-blind people and the world of people who can see and hear, to develop and combine successful solutions and practices that give deaf-blind people the opportunity for self-realization, development and integration into society.

Since 2014, Deaf Blind Support Foundation Connection has been implementing programs and projects aimed at the social and cultural integration of people with hearing and vision impairments. The performance of the Foundation and the Theater of Nations "Touchables" became one of the first key projects in the sphere of inclusive theater and marked beginning of the Foundation's inclusive theater school, which originated with the support of the Theater of Nations, GITIS (Russian Institute of Theatre Arts) and the MHAT (Moscow Art Theater) School.


About the Center "Inclusion"

Center for the creative projectsimplementation "Inclusion" wasopened on February 20, 2017. The founder of the Center is the Deaf Blind Support Foundation Connection. The main objectives of the Center are socialization and development of the creative potential of deaf-blind people and people with other types of disabilities, as well as change in public opinion regarding people with special needs.

At present, the activity of the Center for Creative Projects is represented by theater and educational areas. The center hascreated 7 performances and opened inclusive theater schools in 5 cities ofRussia. In 2018, Inclusion received a grant from the Presidential Grants Foundation for development of the inclusive theater in Russia.