An online meeting place for providers, experts and learners, a self-assessment tool and an accessibility award are some of the products of the three-year AEMA project that is now coming to an end. The project succeeded in contributing to a more equal and broader access to adult education for disabled people.
The AEMA network’s main output is a One-Stop Information Portal that connects adult education providers, experts and disabled learners.
This portal enables European adult education providers and experts to discuss and exchange practices and methodologies on accessibility. It also supports adult learners to identify adult education providers that meet their specific accessibility needs.
Adult education providers and experts on accessibility can also use the portal as a quick guide, a tool to review and improve practices, an assistant to plan the development of some key areas as well as a source of information to design policies – on internal, sectoral, regional or national level).
Another output of the AEMA network is a tool that allows any adult learning centre or organisation to benchmark its accessibility based on a series of criteria developed in collaboration with learners and accessibility experts. The so called AEMA Maturity Matrix for self-review is linked to a system of Accessibility Quality Badges recognising organisations and providers’ commitments to and improvement on accessibility (regardless of their actual accessibility score).
At the same time, experts on accessibility are encouraged to use the portal to rate their degree of competences on accessibility and making it visible to the learning providers thanks to the system of the Accessibility Competences Badges.
Once passed through this process, they can support adult education providers and organisations that wish to receive support in making their structure or learning offer more accessible.
The AEMA Accessibility Award was organised in parallel of the EAEA Grundtvig Award on Health in 2015. The AEMA Award highlighted projects and initiatives which contribute to the increased accessibility of adult education in Europe.
Among several candidates from all over Europe, the AEMA consortium decided to award an EAEA member, the Retzhof Castle, for its work to increase participation of disabled people in the centre's activities.
Winner of the AEMA Accessibility Award, Bildungshaus Schloss Retzhof, with EAEA President Per Paludan Hansen
The AEMA network will continue to be active through the AEMA portal. All adult education providers and accessibility experts are invited to register and make use of its tools. The ones that are already subscribed have the opportunity to continue improving their accessibility by asking experts' support, implementing their suggestions and making their improvements visible online in order to make adult education in Europe more inclusive.
“One of the most interesting aspects of this project was the composition of the partnership and the richness coming out of this”, explains the EAEA Project Manager Francesca Operti who participated in the project from the very beginning.
“The AEMA network consists of organisations from all European regions and represents providers, research and development organisations, independent experts and associations working at different levels”.
The AEMA Grundtvig network (Adult Education Made Accessible), supported by the Lifelong Learning programme, launched in January 2014, consisted of 12 organisations from 11 European countries. The project, coordinated by queraum.cultural and social research (Austria), succeeded in increasing the accessibility, the participation, the transparency and the quality of adult education for disabled people in Europe.
Text: Clémence Garnier
Photos: Unsplash/Jake Hills, Aura Vuorenrinne