The Power Parade on 21 June: Raising awareness for people with disabilities

9 May 2018

On 21 June, the first Disability Pride Parade in Austria will take place. Assistenz24, together with ARGE-Zukunft, Menschen & Medien and a group of motivated individuals have created the ‘Power Parade’, which aims at raising awareness for people with disabilities. Organisations such as Lebenshilfe, Integration Wien, Caritas&Du, the Austrian Disabilty Council (Österreichischer Behindertenrat), VALID magazine and the association Ich bin OK support the project. Together, they aim to send a signal for respect and tolerance, showing that everyone is unique. Valerie Clarke from Assistenz24 explains the idea behind the parade:

‘In recent years, parades have come more and more into fashion. There is the Love Parade, the Peace Parade, the Street Parade, … so we decided that 2018 is the right moment for a strong signal for acceptance and diversity – the Power Parade. The Power Parade is Vienna’s first Disability Pride Parade. On 21 June, we invite everyone to join us in the streets and celebrate beauty and diversity. That’s the idea that, on an international level, has been celebrated for 15 years now. Different social organisations present themselves, and a great number of amazing people show up. There are deaf artists, blind artists, inclusive bands, etc. We want to bring them into the spotlight and give them an opportunity to present themselves and their work.’

Spring 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Disability Rights Convention in Austria. A lot has been implemented since, but there is still a lot of work to be done. This is why people will unite under the slogan ‘all for all’ (‘Alle für alle’) to go onto the streets with a diverse programme of music, dance, workshops and information stands to raise awareness of people with disabilities. That is also why the Austrian association Lebenshilfe supports the parade, as Albert Brandstätter, general secretary at Lebenshilfe, explains:

‘The UN Disability Rights Convention has changed a lot in the last 10 years. A lot has happened, including in Austria, but there is even more to do and to implement. When we look at the national action plan, we see that not even half of the proposed actions and measures have been implemented. So, we still have a lot to do, and this is work that we need to do together. What is great about the parade is that many organisations and individuals come together to cooperate. By ‘many’, I refer to the 38 million people with disabilities in Europe or the 2.5 million people living in Austria with disabilities or chronic illnesses. They are all capable, and they have many opportunities. We want to bring this courage, this joy and this challenge onto the streets, to society, and help remove barriers in people’s minds and communities.’

The parade starts at 11 am at the Vienna Rathausplatz (in front of the town hall) and ends at Heldenplatz for a closing rally from 1 pm to 10 pm with a programme of entertainment and info stands by participating organisations. Viktoria Doppler, Ability Management at Caritas Pflege, shares the details:

‘The parade will slowly start to move at 11 am, passing the Ministry of Social Affairs before finally arriving at Heldenplatz. We will use a colour guiding system to help different groups gather. So, for example, people with hearing disabilities can find the sign language interpreters and the especially loud trucks with the deaf DJs. We will clearly mark where blind people can find personal assistance, and to lead people with sensory processing issues to the quieter, more relaxed areas. And we will have everything – people walking, people on bicycles, people in cars, we even thought about people on tractors once, and we’re thinking about bringing a car ourselves. I’m especially proud of my group of apprentices. We have apprentices with disabilities who will spend 2 months working on our plans. They will come with a trike and a wheeled walker that they will have decorated especially for the event. At the moment, they are ordering goodies to hand out to people. I’m very happy we can participate to such an extent.’

The event aims to act as a wake-up call to politicians and to show that there is still a lot to be done. As Valerie Clarke sums it up:

‘First, it’s important to show that we’re not little, we’re not just some small groups somewhere out there. Everyone has special wishes for their daily lives and it doesn’t cost a lot to fulfil these wishes. All it takes is to be considerate of one another – you don’t need to win the lottery for that. Everyone can help work on a better world, everyone can help, and I think, that’s also what it’s all about, showing what an accessible and barrier-free world can be. Many understand accessibility only in terms of changes in the structure of buildings and public spaces. For example, we will have a model of the Heldenplatz for touching when we are there. That can help you with your spatial perception if you have troubles imagining the space that you are in. We have an interpreter who will translate music into sign language. We have balloons that allow you to feel the vibrations of the music. These are all small things, but they can really make a difference in experiencing the day in a way that you can make sense of it. That’s something about which we would like to raise awareness.’

People involved & points of contact:

Albert Brandstätter, Lebenshilfe

Andreas Zehetner, Lebenshilfe

Florian Dungl, Validmagazin

Klaus Priechenfried, Integration Wien

Viktoria Doppler, Ability Management Caritas Pflege

Valerie Clarke, MSM Geschäftsführung Assistenz24 gem. GmbH

Hana Zanin, Ich bin OK