NEWS

– February 11, 2015
Press release: VALENTINE’S DAY TRUE MEANING – promoting the equal right to love

Valentine’s Day is an important reminder that it is essential to support the equal right of all Europeans – including people with learning disabilities – to make informed decisions regarding their romantic and sexual lives.

If we look at the story behind Valentine’s Day, we see that it is both a celebration of love and a statement in support of freedom of choice. Popular legend says that in Ancient Rome, Saint Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for performing wedding ceremonies for those who were not allowed to get married. Times have since significantly changed, and while we do not always choose who we fall in love with, as adults we have the right to engage in consensual relationships, form families and become parents.

Unfortunately, not all adults are allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to romantic relationships, marriage and reproductive rights, as people with learning disabilities continue to face discrimination in Europe and around the world, in terms of freedom of choice and access to information.

Article 23 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) provides that people with learning disabilities have a right to “found a family”, “freely decide on the number and spacing of children” and “retain their fertility on an equal basis with others”. Furthermore, Article 25 on Health, upholds that “free and informed consent” must be the basis of providing healthcare, including reproductive health.

Although the UN CRPD provides that people with learning disabilities should be given both the choice and the support to enjoy the same degree of freedom in deciding over their intimate lives just as everyone else, the reality is very different. Throughout Europe, forced sterilisation and coerced abortions are also too often considered an acceptable (1.) way of dealing with the lack of available sex education for people with learning disabilities. One of the reasons is that providing accessible information to people with learning disabilities about sexuality and relationships requires taking a more creative and supportive approach.

Sexual Education for Adults with Disabilities, their parents and staff, or SEAD, is an initiative promoting accessible sex education and empowerment of people with learning disability regarding contraception, sex and relationships. SEAD is a pan-European project which designs and promotes effective and accessible ways of teaching sex education and family planning to people with learning disabilities. Its aim is to address the lack of accessible information and knowledge of adults with disabilities through the development of a comprehensive toolkit combining activities like role and drama play, with pictures, audio/video materials and illustrated guides.

The reasoning behind SEAD, which is offering everyone the possibility to make informed personal choices, resonates with the real meaning of the 14th of February. Valentine’s Day could not exist without being given the right and the opportunity to freely fall in love, and the 7 million Europeans (2.) with learning disabilities must not be deprived of their right to live life to the fullest, including the choice to engage in romantic relationships, get married and start a family.

More information and interviews, please do not hesitate to contact Aurélie Baranger,
Director of Autism-Europe, in Brussels.
Tel: +32 (0)2 675 75 05
Email: aurelie.baranger@autismeurope.org

www.autismeurope.org

(1.) Sterilization of Women and Girls with Disabilities
(2.) Literature Review of Health Indicators for People with Intellectual Disability


– September 26, 2014
Press release: MAKING SEX EDUCATION ACCESSIBLE TO ALL EUROPEANS
Sexual Education for Adults with Disabilities, their parents and staff

World Contraception Day on September 26, is an important reminder that it is essential for all young people and adults – including people with learning disabilities – to make informed decisions regarding their sexual life and reproductive health.

This year’s motto, ‘It´s your life, it´s your future’, accurately pinpoints the core issue in providing efficient sexual education and family planning solutions – that of giving people information and options tailored to both their specific needs and life choices.
Unfortunately, not all adults are allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to their sexual life and reproductive rights, as people with learning disabilities continue to face discrimination in Europe and around the world, in terms of freedom of choice and access to information.

Article 23 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) provides that people with learning disabilities have a right to ‘found a family’, ‘freely decide on the number and spacing of children’ and ‘retain their fertility on an equal basis with others’. Furthermore, Article 25 on Health, upholds that ‘free and informed consent’ must be the basis of providing healthcare.

Sadly, a striking gap still exists between the provisions of the UN CRPD and reality. Throughout Europe thousands of people with learning disabilities are victims of sexual abuse and blatant violations of their human rights. These violations include forced sterilisation and coerced abortions. Therefore we need to urgently enforce the respect of the rights of people with learning disabilities and put an end to these violent practices. Enforcing these rights also includes providing accessible information to people with learning disabilities about sexuality and relationships, in a creative and innovative way.
Sexual Education for Adults with Disabilities, their parents and staff, or “SEAD”, is a European initiative designed to tackle such issues and provide an effective and accessible manner of teaching sex education and family planning to people with learning disabilities.

The project is the result of the cooperation between nine organizations (representing people with disabilities and the education sector) from seven EU countries: Autism-Europe (Belgium), Ammattiopsto Luovi (Finland), Bergische Volkshochschule and EuConcilia (Germany), Molnár Gábor Műhely Alapítvány (Hungary), The Kaunas centre for young people with disabilities (Lithuania), Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen (the Netherlands), CHANGE and the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom).
SEAD’s aim is to address the lack of accessible information and knowledge of adults with disabilities, their parents, and staff in the field of sexual education, from a creative perspective, adapted to their specific needs. It will be achieved through the development of a comprehensive toolkit combining activities like role and drama play, with pictures, audio/video materials and tools. The project partners believe that this alternative way of facilitating education through innovation and arts is an excellent way of fostering the social inclusion of people with disabilities, as well as key to supporting their personal development.
One of the teaching aids developed by SEAD is the Wordbank, a carefully compiled glossary of elementary terms for discussing sex and relationships, in easy to read format.

SEAD is an invitation to initiate dialogue on the subject of contraception, family planning and sex education, open to all European citizens, with this aim campaign days on sexual education for people with learning disabilities are planned across Europe.

More information and interviews, please do not hesitate to contact Aurélie Baranger,
Director of Autism-Europe, in Brussels.
Tel: +32 (0)2 675 75 05
Email: aurelie.baranger@autismeurope.org

The Wordbank tool on the SEAD website: Click HERE!
DOWNLOAD press release document HERE!

CAMPAIGN DAYS ACCROSS EUROPE
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www.autismeurope.org
www.sead-project.eu


– November 30, 2013
FINDINGS FROM THE SURVEY ABOUT SEX EDUCATION AMONG THE SEAD PARTNERS
In early autumn 2013, a survey was carried out to help identify ways to reach the target group of the project, and what and how organisations should run sex education lessons.

A total of 159 questionnaires were answered, and the results show that:
• People with learning disabilities would like to learn about sex and relationships at their homes.
• To the question which organisations should run sex education lessons? People with disabilities seem to prefer both governmental organisations and living groups; while parents and staff are more in favour of living groups. The home-based living groups is the preferred option among the surveyed people (73 votes), against the day-centres choice (57 votes).
• Brochures are the most voted materials (77 votes) followed by DVDs and websites. Participants seem to prefer print publications, which do not require the use of electronic devices.

The Adult Education Centre of Solingen and Wuppertal have developed a questionnaire that has been translated into their national languages and disseminated across the countries of the SEAD Project partners. The importance of having adequately trained staff able to deliver sex education to Disabled was highlighted. The feedback has emphasised the importance of early and continuous sex education along with the development of the individual, and the use of various materials and creative methods.


– November 20, 2013
THIRD STEERING GROUP MEETINGThe partners have met in Ajka and Bànd (Hungary) in November 2013 and discussed the progress of the project, as well as the deliverables and the goals achieved so far. HAN students (The Netherlands) presented ideas on a SEAD app, a game and a trailer that can be used as educational tools as well as for raising awareness about the rights and needs of People with Learning Disabilities. As SEAD partners are collecting good practices from the countries, a set of practice standards (Our Pledge) was agreed.

The campaigning day will take place on September 26, 2014 on occasion of the World Contraception Day. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of sex education for People with Disabilities and it will be an opportunity to disseminate information about the educational tools developed.

The SEAD toolkit contents should be listed beginning of the year 2014. Toolkit prototypes should be ready for testing in May. The piloting will be from May to July or in August, depending on the vacation periods. The final version of the toolkit is ready in November 2014.

The Board of Experts advised on the type of educational materials that will be included in the toolkits:
• touchable and concrete materials
• a drama play developed by KNJUC from Lithuania
• information about law and human rights for People with Intellectual Disability
• description of good practice standards in educating Disabled Persons about sexuality and relationships
• basic approaches and attitudes of staff, parents, Disabled (also in easy-read)
• How to use/work with the photos
• list with links and reference books and other resources
There will be materials related to 5 themes:
• Friendships and relationships
• Sex and masturbation
• Safe sex and contraception
• Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans
• Sexual abuse
The partners also visited the Hungarian partner’s day center ‘Molnár Gábor Műhely Alapítvány’ (MGMA), and attended a session of sex education training, an activity launched since the beginning of the project. The MGMA is a centre which was established in 1995, and that offers vocational opportunities for 60 people with disabilities in the city of Ajka (Central-Transdanubian Region of Hungary).

How we work
We shared our understanding of what ‘co-operation’ means to us and we made a Pledge to work co-operatively with People with Learning Disabilities in each of our own countries.
Our Pledge
• We will co-work together with Disabled People, based on trust and respect,
• We will value the expertise of Disabled People,
• We will share knowledge and experiences in empowering and accessible ways.


– July 3, 2013
ACCESSIBILITY All partners demanded accessibility (easy to read format) of all communication about the project including this website. There will be less text to read and more photos, pictures, animations, short statements and interviews to watch.


– June 8, 2013
SECOND STEERING GROUP MEETING From 21 – 23 May 2013, the partners met in Leeds. CHANGE hosted this meeting. We discussed the glossary, the findings of the country reports and how to best use them, and the work ahead.

Hanneke, Letze, Anneloes, Francien and Suze, graduate students from HAN in Nijmegen, presented major findings from the Netherlands’ research. On this basis, talking to disabled and social workers, they have developed a rather extensive list of good practice principles or standards (‘guidelines’). These principles they have then creatively displayed in a huge SEAD pop-up book. Thus, the first tools for the SEAD tool kit have been produced!

CHANGE volunteers demonstrated how well the co-working principle functions: Catherine Carter and Austin Bradshaw shared their experience in supporting parents with learning disabilities; Austin and David Charlton trained us on accessible information. Shaun Webster and Anne Mackay presented the Rights of Children Europe, and June and Maurice introduced us to their Josephine and Jack Project.

SEAD_SGM2_Impression

SEAD_SGM2_Partners





















– May 13, 2013
EUROPEAN COMPARISON REPORT is currently being finalized.


– May 7, 2013
THE COUNTRY REPORTS on the state of sexual education for people with learning disabilities will be ready for download by October 2013. The reports in the national languages describe the situation in Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Finland and the UK. The report summaries will be available in English, too.


– April 17, 2013
THE SEAD GLOSSARY exists in two drafts: one extended version with over 300 entries and a short version. In September 2013, the Board of Experts will decide about publishing.


– November 5, 2012
THE SEAD PROJECT KICK-OFF MEETING took place in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in October 2012. During the 4-day meeting the project partners got to know each other and shared ideas.
We also discussed intensively the SEAD website and flyer, the country reports, and how to work together. We also learned a lot about our Dutch partner and enjoyed regional specialties.

SEAD-SGM1-Partners