Ability forum worked as a network of disabled people and their representative organizations, government and also youth who devoted to disability issue. It provided a motivating environment to help young people with disability to fight for the same rights as others, and opportunities to interact and learn from their peers. It also offered a platform for them to express their views, enhance their confidence in social participation and peer-working. Together they could draw attention of the government and public to have a deeper understanding on disability rights in Sri Lankan society. The Ability Forum is the first IYAP initiative on policy advocacy. A range of Sri Lankan and international NGOs have been calling for more power and representation of and by people with disabilities. The purpose of the ability forum was to provide a platform for young people with disabilities to express their views and raise their public profile with confidence, working with other young people. Together they can sensitize the government, civil society stakeholders and the public to understand disability with “empathy” and not “sympathy” and to gain greater recognition for their rights in Sri Lankan society and among political decision makers.
The ability forum started by the launch of the video on 7th of November 2015 at Grand Oriental Hotel in Kashyapa hall. The video was in support and collaboration with Women Deliver, Bayer Healthcare, Your Life and World Contraception Day Ambassador Project 2015. It was an awareness campaign video on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people with disabilities in Sri Lanka. All the invited people were from non-governmental organizations, disabled people’s organizations and government agencies. The launch was done along with the panel discussion on working together with youth with disability.
Under the initiative of Ability Forum in partnership with World Vision Sri Lanka which was project of IYAP, the disability sensitization workshop was held in February 2016 in Meeghakuila Badulla.The workshop was conducted for 30 school students which consisted of 5 sessions. The workshop started with an introduction to the disability and disability terminology. This created a bond between both children with and without disability. The workshop also focused on teaching the participants about disability etiquette and providing universal access. IYAP as a partner conducted two workshops at Galle MOSAIC Children’s Festival to children between the ages of 13-17 on the 28th of May 2016 both in Sinhala and English. Two of the facilitators who were involved with the training were persons with disabilities. However, after the first workshop, the IYAP volunteers learned the sign language skills from one of the facilitators and conducted a sign language session on their own. The IYAP volunteers trained students 30 basic terms and numbers to be expressed in sign language.Thus, IYAP volunteers were involved in manifold tasks; facilitation, coordination and pre-publicity activities. The modules for the training was also developed by IYAP with the consultation of few activists who are passionate of advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. The workshop in Eravur was conducted/facilitated by the IYAP volunteers in Tamil. The volunteers also closely engaged with conducting skits with the student participants in using a wheel-chair, crutches in order to sensitize the students on everyday practical issues that persons with disabilities face. IYAP volunteers facilitated these practical sessions as well.
Positive feedback was given by invitees about the short film after the launch. The short film received 15000+ views on Youtube.Participants were able to come up with solutions for the problems faced by disabled children and as a follow up action an exhibition on disability planned to happen in the forthcoming months.
- Film launch
- Workshop in February
- Eravur workshop
- Mosaic film festival