WYD organization wants an inclusive event and has registered 1,500 people with disabilities

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The organization of the Lisbon World Youth Day has developed an inclusion strategy based on six points and, less than a month before the event, has 1,500 registrations from people with some kind of disability.

“We are making every effort to make WYD accessible to everyone, that’s what we want. We have registered about 1500 people with some kind of disability, from various parts of the world,” Carmo Diniz, from the Office of Dialogue and Proximity, of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), told Lusa news agency.

According to the responsible, the people with disabilities enrolled in the World Youth Day (WYD), which takes place in the first week of August, will participate in various ways, including as part of groups of dioceses, some institutions, and individually.

Carmo Diniz, who is the director of the pastoral service for people with disabilities in the Patriarchate of Lisbon and the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP), guarantees that the organizers of WYD have been working “for a long time on a strategy of attention to disability, which has been developed with a broad group of institutions in the various areas of disability.

WYD organization wants an inclusive event and has registered 1,500 people with disabilities

According to the responsible, “the implemented strategy is based on six fundamental axes: invitation, participation, communication, accommodation, accessibility, and mobility.

“It is around these six axes that we have been developing a series of initiatives, with the purpose of ensuring the participation of people with disabilities in World Youth Day as a whole, within their freedom and will,” he says.

In terms of communication, Carmo Diniz explains that themes such as sign language, braille, and alternative communication systems, such as the Pictographic Communication System, are being worked on.

“We are working with the Resource Center for Digital Inclusion of the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, which is producing various communication materials for everyone. That is, taking key pieces of the day and putting them in accessible formats,” he says, adding that “it was assumed from the beginning that the WYD website and application would have to be accessible to all.

According to Carmo Diniz, people with disabilities who are not registered in WYD and want to go to the two spaces of the event – Tejo Park and Eduardo VII Park – can access all the information on the event’s website.

The organization decided not to have specific volunteers in the places where the presence of people with disabilities is foreseen, opting instead to prepare everyone for this reality: “With the reception and volunteer management we created a specific module with indications and attention to disability.

“We are not going to have specific people to deal with disability, what we will have, in the designated places, is a reinforcement of the number of volunteers, because, of course, a lot of help will be needed,” he says.

Carmo Diniz guarantees that the Portuguese organization has spoken with organizers of previous days, namely WYD in Panama, which took place in 2019, about how the theme of disability was handled, but highlights “the different realities of each country.”

“We always have to adjust the conditions to our reality, and to our way of doing things,” she says, adding that the ways of dealing with the theme used in the Shrine of Fatima and in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican were also replicated.

Considered the biggest event of the Catholic Church, WYD will take place between August 1st and 6th in Lisbon, and about 1.5 million people are expected to attend.

This year’s edition will be attended by Pope Francis, who will be in Portugal between August 2nd and 6th.

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