Dialogue in the Dark (DiD) remains the crown jewel of the experiences created by Dialogue Social Enterprise (DSE). Its success is undeniable: 33 years of existence, presence in more than 50 countries, more than 10 million visitors and many, many stories that illustrate the great impact that these encounters in the dark have had for both guides with visual disability and visitors.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced DSE to transform ourselves. Restrictions on physical contact make it difficult for an experience like DiD to continue as consistently as before.
The pandemic intersected with the increasing interest of companies and society on diversity and inclusion, which expands DSE’s concrete opportunities for a Dialogue transformation to work towards the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Consequently, the next horizon within the DSE experiences is called Innoklusio, an initiative of Andreas Heinecke, funded locally in Germany by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The project started last October 1 and the work in its initial phases will take 3 years.
According to Andreas Heinecke, is inclusion a process of social democratization that consists of removing barriers to participation and is as relevant as climate change if we want to unleash the collaborative potential of human beings. Inclusion is associated with the Sustainable Development Goal No. 10 proposed by the UN, which has to do with equality.
To this day, the various DSE experiences such as Dialogue in the Dark or Dialogue in Silence promote inclusion from an entertainment angle. Many visitors come, attracted by the darkness or the silence, to live a different experience, and in the end, they take away a powerful message that changes the way they think about people with disabilities.
However, the approach to the subject through the exhibitions has been rather indirect. Visitors do not have to make any concrete commitment to inclusion, nor do they experience a concrete plan to carry it out.
Innoklusio proposes a concrete approach to disability inclusion – job inclusion - to be applied in a specific area - companies.
The goals of Innoklusio in its first phase are: 1500 guided tours for up to 36,000 participants, 75 1-day workshops for 1,800 senior executives, 9 days of classes and 6 months of online support for 30 follow-up experts, external evaluation by a university and the implementation of a communication and media strategy.
And there are facts that show us that an initiative like Innoklusio is urgent: according to WHO, approximately 15% of the world's population lives with disabilities, 80% of disabilities happen to us between 18 and 65 years, and in addition to accidents and diseases that cause disability, the world is entering a stage of ageing of much of its population, a factor that increases the incidence of disability.
Innoklusio is a program based on the needs of the protagonists of inclusion, as it involves the two main actors of this process from the very beginning of the project: those companies interested in including people with disabilities in their workforce, and people with disabilities who participate as "inclusionists" in the workshops.
During the first year, Innoklusio will work with a dozen companies for its pilot phases and with people with different disabilities who will not only be directly involved in the workshops, but also in the design and implementation of the programs, as well as in the project's advisory boards.
We hope that DSE can replicate the successful internationalization and scaling of DiD through our global partner network, for Innoklusio after the pilot phase.
The program has 3 main interventions: the awareness-raising stage, which uses the classic DSE exhibition models as DiD but adapted to inclusion issues. The inclusive leadership consolidation stage, which consists of workshops that prepare leaders with all the information about disability, from hard data to the required social skills. And finally, the long-term inclusion stage, where in-house experts are developed and trained to sustain the inclusion process in their companies once Innoklusio is completed.
We firmly believe that disability inclusion in the workplace is a transcendent issue that is pending on DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) organizational agenda. It is estimated that 90% of companies prioritize diversity, yet only 4% include disability in their DEI policies.
Dialogue Social Enterprise has come a long way in informal and experiential inclusion education, with 33 years of experience and a strong network of international partners. Today we apply our experience and build on our mission to reach the new horizon as an organization, through Innoklusio, to act concretely in favor of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.