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Arcotel Allegra hotel was venue of the final conference of the New methods for inclusion project, that was held on 26th of April 2017. Project is financed by the Agency for mobility and EU programmes within the Erasmus+ programme and it lasted for 20 months. During the conference, the final version of the “Learn how to communicate, learn how to include!” manual was introduced. Coordinator of the project was the Association of the deaf and hard of hearing of the city of Zagreb, together with the Baltic regional Fund from Latvia and CRRES Buzau from Romania that acted as partners.

Project has improved skills that are needed in order to work with young people, new methods of work were developed, it improved social capacity of deaf and hard of hearing people and it made a shift towards reduction of prejudice of local community towards inclusion of people with disabilities into society.

The conference started with Toni Rakitić, member of the Association of the deaf and hard of hearing of the city of Zagreb and participant in the project workshops, who addressed the audience. He pointed out that this project was a very positive experience for him and that he is sure that it will be of great benefit not only to deaf and hard of hearing persons but to all persons with communication barriers.

After Toni, the audience was greeted by the president of the Association Katarina Tonković. She emphasized the Associations role in the life of deaf and hard of hearing population as well as the importance of acquiring the timely information in the communication between all members of the society. She expressed her thanks to everyone that were included in the Project and the development and production of the Manual.

Alma Sarač, expert associate of the Association, presented the Project to the audience as well as the effects it has achieved. She also pointed out the importance of the non-formal methods of learning for the persons with communication barriers. The representative off our Romanian partners Eduard Nicolescu introduced the intellectual output of the Project – the “Learn how to communicate, learn how to include!manual. The manual is to be used as a helping tool in work with youth with communication barriers as well as other persons who are based on their communication barriers excluded from the society.

At the end of the introduction part of the conference, the representatives of the coordinator and partners – Katarina Tonković, Ginta Salmina and Eduard Nicolescu, signed the Memorandum of cooperation. By signing the Memorandum, they committed themselves to further activities oriented towards giving support to the implementation of the intellectual product of this partnership.

After the introductory part, two Panels were held. The theme of the first panel was “The inclusion of non-formal learning methods in the school curriculum and the active participation of youth with communication difficulties in activities that use informal learning methods”. Participants in the Panel were Domagoj Morić (Forum for Freedom in Education, Croatia), Ljubica Pribanić (Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb) and Ginta Salmina (Member of the board, Baltic Regional fund, Latvia).

The participants of the second panel were Marica Mirić (SOIH – Croatian Union of Associations of Persons with Disabilities), Helena Majerić (City of Zagreb, City office for social protection and people with disabilities) and Eduard Nicolescu (Manager, The Education and Rehabilitation Centre – CRRES). The theme of this panel was “Efficient actions and provision of services for youth with communication difficulties through informal methods of learning and projects of NGOs in cooperation with local governments. Comparative analysis and practices in the European Union”.

At the end of the Conference all present were greeted by the president of the Association of the deaf and hard of hearing of the city of Zagreb, Katarina Tonković. The Conference was held in English language and it was translated to both Croatian and International sigh language.

The Conference was attended by sign language interpreters as well as users of the services that the Association provides, Božena Lukač – representative of the Agency for mobility and EU programmes, Darijo Jurišić – deputy of the Ombudswoman for persons with disabilities and Consul of the Embassy of Romania in the Republic of Croatia – Bogdan Brinzei.

The Conference was covered by the media – Croatian radio and television, as well as the journalist from Croatia (In portal), Romania and Latvia. The project also had an official photographer who took statements from some of the participants that will be included in the final video of the Project that will be aired on Z1 television on 18th of May 2017.

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New methods for inclusion – final conference