The project responds to the problem of exclusion of deaf people from access to public services. The measures taken by the public administration to implement the Sign Language Act and the Accessibility Act are clearly insufficient. The discrepancy between the law and the practice implemented by county and municipal offices, medical and other public services has been confirmed, for example, by the results of a study by the Supreme Chamber of Control. In Poland, the population of deaf people using Polish Sign Language amounts to about 50,000 people. In smaller towns, the representation of this group is relatively low, which in turn translates into its low visibility in the local community and the failure to take action to meet its needs.
As part of the project, we prepared deaf people from the Łódź Province for the role of self-advocates. They took part in workshops on the accessibility of public institutions for deaf people in the legal system and in practice. We carried out monitoring of the application of the accessibility law in communes and districts of the Łódź Province – a questionnaire survey covered 74 institutions (communal offices, town halls, district starosties, labour offices, social assistance centres, community centres, psychological-educational counselling centres, police stations, hospitals, courts), and visits by self-advocates covered 51 institutions. Information meetings were also held in 4 smaller towns in the province, attended by deaf people and allies. During the meetings, the results of the monitoring and the idea of self-advocacy were presented. The results of the survey were also summarised in a publication.
As a result of the project, 11 deaf people improved their knowledge and skills in the law on accessibility of public services and how to enforce the law. Public institutions confronted themselves with the needs of deaf clients and the obligations imposed on them by the law to increase the accessibility of public services. As many as 50 civil servants working in local governments in the Łódź Province – through meetings with a Deaf person – personally experienced the importance of removing barriers to accessing services, and this experience prompted them to put more effort into ensuring accessibility for Deaf people.