Since 2017, the Austrian and Polish Blind Union and VIEWS International are cooperating on the ERASMUS+ project “Beyond Barriers and Borders”, which focused on strengthening the daily living skills of participants. The project included three phases of training for visually impaired participants and sighted volunteers between 18 and 30 and over 50 years in Austria, Belgium and Poland.
The first training took place in Warsaw, focusing on literacy and assistive technologies, including discussions on the general situation for visually impaired people in the three countries, a classical concert and a tour through the old town in Warsaw.
The second training was held in Liege and was based on independent living. Participants enjoyed classes on cooking, make-up and styling as well as an intercultural evening with delicacies from the three countries.
The third and final training took place in Vienna, focusing on communication and access to sports and culture. Accessible tours at the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Parliament, a blind football training and the farewell evening in a traditional Viennese restaurant were the highlights of this week.
Participants found the project beneficial in many ways: they were able to learn from others who live with the same conditions, made firm friends and already plan a reunion. The partners agreed that the project was an immensely positive experience and we can only hope to have similarly intercultural projects in the future.