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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

It was Saturday night April 27, 2013 – doors opened at 7:30 PM and stretched till 4 o’clock in the morning. The opening march started at 9 PM sharp and the place was packed. The conferencier for the evening was Marianne Schulze a Human Rights expert and consultant on matters of the handicapped.
See – www.behindertenarbeit.at/bha/arch… where she works with the “equalizent” – the official convener of this event.

It was just like any other opening march during the Vienna Ball season except that you saw also couples of two men or two women, a very tall man and a short woman, some physically bent, mixed race couples and no specific dress codes except that all in festive closing an the women wore a violet boa feather garland – though in different ways of putting it on. Many men had a green tie and even a woman or two had such a tie. It was all in fun and nobody tried to do it de rigueur.

There were two bands – the Jazz D’accord band for the introductory part and the Vienna very conventional music SIGMA big.dance.band of mainly young women. There was also the performance of a mixed group of dancers under the Stanek & competence-circle and DanceAbility that performed what some might have thought was an early Robert Wilson choreography – you know – the one about Sigmund Freud and his dreams.  It was terrific and included the wanderings of a short elderly woman in a green dress that looked autistic, two young people in wheel chairs, several Spiderman all covered figures – a man and a woman – some people with various handicaps and some without – but all moving to the beat of the music at slow speed.

The first row of chairs around the square dancing stage was taken by what the manager of the event called the “ministers” – but I recognized only Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, the  Austrian politician of the Austrian Green Party and its federal spokeswoman, in line to be a minister when the Greens become members of the governing coalition. She and the other dignitaries were escorted to their seats by a variety of costumed people – some looking like angels others in stocking-garb that made them look like painted nudes – and Ms. Glawischnig got honored with one of the latter men – all in green.

Not to be misunderstood – please note that this was not a Green event – actually I would say it was a Chamber of Commerce backed event. The WKO-Wien has its Network Diversity – they create value by recognizing value.
You find them at www.wko.at/Wien/diversity

They explain Diversity as “Multiple” or perhaps Multiplicity – a valuable potential for the economy – and recommend to the businesses to take advantage of the diversity.

Diversity can be  in age, origin (ethnicity), Health or being Handicapped, Sexual orientation, religion.

Monika Haider, the CEO of “equalizent” and the head of the Honor Guard of the event, said that DIVERSITY MAKES OUR SOCIETY STRONG – because we all profit from the different experiences, talents, ideas, opinions – of a heterogeneous society.

A main interest is as well in migration. Migrants or refugees that came to Austria, and residents in camps overseas, are of interest to the WKO and were among the honorary guests to the Ball.

We received notice that Monday, May 6th, 2013, as part of the 3rd Vienna Integration Weak there will be a Vienna Economy Day of Diversity.
It will be held at Operngasse 17-21, 6th floor, 1040 Vienna.

There will be a series of lectures 9 am – 5-pm, and in parallel a series of business consultations in Turkish, Polish, Bosnian-Kroatian-Serb, Chinese, Bulgarian, and Slowakian.

Part of this program was also a business publication  about Austrian business – “Kosmo” that was given out to us in a Slavic language.

But that is not all – “equalizent” is teaching languages to the hearing and speach impaired and trying to sound funny someone suggested that this means teaching those that cannot pronounce one language as well how to be able not to pronounce another language as well. But without jokes – this clearly is an important hand to the handicapped that is thus made part of normal life.

Further members of the Honor Guard and seated in the front rows were – Brigitte Jank, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Vienna; Federal Minister Labor, Social Affairs, and Consumer Protection,  Maria Vassilakou, of the Green Party, Deputy  Mayor of Vienna; Petra Draxl, head of the Vienna Employment Services, actress Dagmar Koller.

While most of the above went on in the downstairs hall, and many of the people sitting in the garden and the side rooms – eating the traditional fare of Vienna Balls – gulash soup and Debreciner sausages – starting 10 pm Babsi Bandi in full voice and Jo Spelbrink in sign language – led the interminal young through terrific drumming by the Vienna naBum band – a cross between the North East of Brazil Capoeira culture and mother Africa that define themselves as a “beatfactory project.”

Then there were the DJane CounTessa/ Brunhilde Collective led by Petra Grosinic who arrived as a child from Croatia and lives with her parents in Vienna’s Ottakring District known for its immigrants diversity. At her mother’s hair-dressing business she got to know  Anne Wiederhold, the head of the  Brunnenpassage DJane-Workshop and then with the women participants they created the “Brunhilde Collective.” Her mix is Reggea.

They were followed by the !DelaDap DJ-Set with Tania Saedi as vocalist. This upper level Ball crowd had really a Ball. Here I saw something great.

For those interested, the Black Jack tables of Casinos Austria at the Kursalon were available as usual – in the Lehar Hall.

The effort to integrate the handicapped into normal life became crystal clear in the way people enjoyed themselves at this ball – at the dancing by the participants. Obviously – the hearing and speech impaired did not stick out – but the wheel chair people dancing with their wheelchairs was a totally different matter. I am sure I will never forget the sight of a young woman after having danced with her dancing-partner while in the wheel chair, then getting out of the chair and holding on to the side of the bar while the other woman sat in the wheel chair in her place and the dancing continued with the roles switched. Hurray for the the human spirit and Kudos to the organizers of the event.

At 2 am, while downstairs continued the Sigma big.dance.band, on the third floor there was the Salon Kitty Revue & Music for Separees – Austria’s finest Burlesque show with added French Boylesque – who distributed leaflets to let you know you can see them again on May 11, 2013 at the Arena Variete Cafe, Margaretenstrasse 117, 1050 Vienna. To see the cast please go to – www.salon-kitty.net/?page_id=10

The recurrent motto: RESPECT AND TOLERANCE AND AGAINST DISCRIMINATION.

MORE ABOUT EQUALIZENT – the institution that helped and is helped by this Ball:

Their motto is that LANGUAGE is the interface between Identity, Education, and Human Interaction – so their contribution is to language.

If needed language is supported by sign language and WITAF is the outreach for integration via sign-language.

June 7, 2013 there will be a presentation about studying with impairement of hearing. Further information at www.plig.at

For a full listing of the Equalizent courses please see – www.equalizent.com

For more about the work of “Equalizent” Teaching and Consulting Ltd. Dr. Anna Gudra offered her direct contact – at Obere Augartenstrasse 20, 1020 Vienna. tel: 01/409 83 18- 32    anna.gudra at equalizent.com

 

 

 

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