Holding Organization: ΑΝΑΠΗΡΙΑ ΤΩΡΑ-ΑΥΤΟΝΟΜΙΑ-DISABLED.GR Status: Nonprofit organization People involved in the project: many volunteers all over Greece Public partners: NO Private Partners: ΝΟ Sources and links:

The idea:

The idea was that people should proceed successfully in the difficult road that leads to the restoration of the objective value of disability as a difference in living conditions. This could be possible by creating a digital version of a magazine that could be accessible from people with disabilities.

The local context:

People with disabilities in Greece are in a problematic position, despite the steps that have been taken for their integration into society. During the previous years they were treated with welfare policies as passive takers of benefits, while only through a few European founding there were some steps for autonomous living and job employment. The last years with the economic crisis in Greece, many benefits have been cut, all disabled people have to call reintroduced by examination boards and many have unjustly lost the status of disability with its facilitations.

The starting point: “Disability NOW” was created in 1985 by a group of friends who had a serious personal interest in disability, paraplegia, quadriplegia and spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. The digital version, (www.DISABLED.GR), first saw the light somewhere near the 1985 in a PC era that was adapted to be used by people with severe quadriplegia. Around 1997 was BBS, and a little later came the internet. The magazine was transformed to a nonprofit organization in 1997.

Steps and development of the action:

1985: foundation of “Disability NOW” 1985: digital version of the magazine 1997: legal status as a nonprofit organization

How does it work?

The core of people who contribute to “Disability NOW” are unpaid volunteers and most of them have the experience of quadriplegia or paraplegia after spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. The magazine “Autonomy” (formerly Disability NOW) is sent by mail to more than 14,500 subscribers from all over Greece. It is an information and communication tool for them. For the convenience of readers who are blind and visually impaired, the material of the magazine is available for online reading. The annual exhibition “Autonomia EXPO” has become the largest exhibition institution in Greece relating to people with disabilities, rehabilitation, special education, independent living, adapted sports, therapeutic recreation, the appropriate technologies, hobbies and accessible lifestyles. The “Autonomia EXPO” has its own website, which is updated daily with the latest news and information concerning the exhibition.

In www.DISABLED.GR operates the largest digital library which includes thousands of books and articles on disabilities, special education, rehabilitation, independent living, etc. Most of them are first publications in Greek. In www.DISABLED.GR is also hosted the largest Digital disability community with hundreds of members, which reproduce all the daily news and current affairs from the daily and periodical press, in Greek and in English. Within the digital community Forums discussion and communication is operating. Under the “Disability NOW” run peer counseling services, tele-coaching and tele-education for all (known) issues related to disabilities, through self-help groups for spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, vocational rehabilitation, entrepreneurship , independent living, management of neurogenic bladder, sexuality etc. “Disability NOW” participates in the implementation of several research programs of the European Union. The majority of programs are related to independent living, vocational rehabilitation, vocational training, entrepreneurship for people with disabilities, the Information Society, tourism, recreation, the Anti-discrimination etc.

Added value of the project and making resources available:

Social benefits: It is the only Greek organization with objectively mass base. The delivery of services and sophisticated methods of communication and information does not distinguish users depending on their geographic location or specific conditions of life and joins them together. Shaping policies: It enables people with disabilities and contributes to their autonomy and independence. It provides an alternative way of living for people with disabilities as an energetic part of the society. Challenges/risks/inertias:

The main challenge is to maintain and operate such a venture based on self-organization and participation of all members, which come from different ideological, social and geographical environments.

Future perspectives:

In their own words: “We deal strongly with self-organization and self-management activities (after all we are among the first we integrate self-management, self-determination and to organize themselves in political discourse community of people with disabilities), but more and more as the economical crisis deepens in Greece, we are trying to become more authentic”.