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Awareness4Change – Raising society awareness: the need for change in disability inclusion is an ERASMUS+ strategic project gathering 6 partners from 4 different countries.The project is lead by Fundação AFID Diferença – Portugal and it has a duration of 36 months (September 2019-August 2022).

Partners: Diakonie Ruhr-Hellweg e.V. (Germany); APROXIMAR COOPERATIVA DE SOLIDARIEDADE SOCIAL, CRL (Portugal); Association of Consultants and Experts on Social Economy Romania (ACE-ES Romania); MERSEYSIDE EXPANDING HORIZONS LIMITED (UK); EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR SOCIAL INOVATION (Romania).

One of the groups of people that is more affected by social exclusion is people with disabilities where the targets are failing. For instance, in 2016 in the EU-28, the poverty and social exclusion rate of people, aged 16 or over, with some or severe limitation was 30.1% of the total population while for people with none limitation was of 20.9%, a gap of 9.2%. (Indicators to support the Europe 2020 Strategy, 2018).

There is a very well established link between negative attitudes to people with disabilities and the barriers to their rights. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also recognized it saying “… disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with other” (CRPD Preamble (e), 2008). But despite this progress, negative public attitudes and awkwardness about disability prevail. Disabled people and their families tell that negative attitudes affect every area of their lives – in the playground, at work, in shops, on the street (Current attitudes towards disabled people, 2014).

In this context, intends to develop the Awareness4Change project, that aims to do the diagnosis of improve more everyday interactions and greater public education about disability. Our aim is to increase understanding and acceptance of disabled people. As specific objectives are: understand the European current attitudes towards disability and disabled people, focusing on the opinion and attitudes Organizations’ Human Resources departments; understand the disabled people current perceptions and experiences about civil society’s attitudes towards disability and disabled people; to launch a transnational campaign to get European public thinking about what we can do to include disabled people more in our lives; to design an awareness training to address attitudinal barriers and negative attitudes, targeting employers, human resources departments, workers on the front line (those who face the customers); to improve people with disabilities’ experiences when they do participate in everyday life domains such as transport, public services, health services, etc.

The project participant profile comprises companies, human resources professionals, employment support technicians, civil society and people with disabilities. Will be participate of the project 750 considering the people who answered the surveys, experts, pilot learnersand pilot trainers, project meeting, open seminars participants.

To achieve these objectives, the project will be divided into three stages: IO1, Organizations’ Human Resources departments report on current attitudes towards disability and disabled people; IO2, Disabled people’ perceptions and experiences report on civil society’s attitudes towards disability and disabled people; and IO3, Awareness training materials to address attitudinal barriers and negative attitudes.

The impacts expect of Awareness4Change are first to awaken call to society, to discuss and change attitudes toward people with disabilities. After this, are expected to engage the target group especially in the human resources and employment professionals, because they are the way to make some difference in the reality of people with disabilities in the labor market context. Lastly, the project expect to contribute for social change in the European scenario, making a tool to the social engagement in disability affairs and be replicable in all Europe for transform globally the labor market and all society in a space of community and human diversity. In relation to the results that will be maintained after the end of the EU funding are: online questionnaire about the attitudes of human resources and business services to people with disabilities and perceptions of civil society on the same issue; a focus group guide to get information about people with any kind of disability (motor, sensory, intellectual); awareness flyers for the employability of people with disabilities; and training curriculum for human resources professionals and employment support professionals.

All the materials will be available during and after the project ends and can be replicated by partners or other entities that have an interest in disability awareness.