We all have talents and limitations. It is more important than ever that the talents of people with disabilities are also used in society. In order to achieve this, obstacles must sometimes be literally and figuratively removed first.
It may seem obvious that local administrations that pride themselves on the improvement of accessibility pay attention to and/or make good use of the wide variety of help they can obtain from the higher authorities. However, reality is often different. Numerous are the local administrations that start using these supports if civil society sufficiently increases pressure, if policy makers themselves are concerned about and/or closely confronted with the situation and if the financial incentives outweigh the effort that was asked for.
Indeed, for the majority of Western society, local policy makers included, the concept of ‘accessibility’ often only evokes physical accessibility for people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments. However, taking into consideration the way UN treaties define the concept of accessibility, every one of us is (potentially) concerned.
Despite the wide variety of diversity plans, the participation in society of impaired people seems to be rather limited as they still lack accessibility in a lot of domains. In order to help improve this situation, the TolBo association was recently created.
In this knowledge I founded the non-profit organization TolBo at the end of 2011 – with financial support from the King Baudouin Foundation and a team of enthusiastic like-minded people with experience and expertise.
TolBo stands for 'Accessibility Local Authorities and Government Organisations'.
The choice of name is not accidental. After all, local authorities are increasingly seen by the higher authorities as the turning point for welfare policy in all its facets.
By creating a frame of reference and giving good examples of inclusive and accessible governance, we hope we will all start to understand that taking care of an accessible society is a duty everyone should take up.
To us, integration is a verb. After all, the quality of life of people with a disability is strongly determined by the extent to which they can participate in society.
Mark Van Assche
The non-profit association Tolbo wants to contribute to the creation of an all-accessible society.
It will act as a connecting link between the individual citizen, existing organisations and structures and (local) governments.
In order to realise its objective, TolBo will:
The fact that our initiatives have made it into the national press on several occasions shows that TolBo is indeed trying to make a difference. Below is a short anthology: