#InclusionMatters: Collaboration in times of COVID-19
By UP Babaylan and Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation, Inc.
What does the UP Babaylan, an LGBTI student organization, and the Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation, Inc. (LCDPFI), an organization working extensively with people with disabilities have in common? It took the global COVID-19 pandemic to bring their commonality to the surface.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a humongous global challenge but it has had the unique benefit of making those who are continuously left behind more visible.
‘As we cope through this trying times, one thing’s for sure—we can cope together. Despite mobility restrictions and heightened physical distancing, people have found ways how they can continue (or start) working together.
Collaboration between diverse organizations working in different fields of development is not the norm, rather it is rather rare. UP Babaylan, LCDPFI and Pinoy Deaf Rainbow initiated a horizontal collaboration thus demonstrating that such partnerships are possible and brought to life the principle of, ‘No one left behind’ while at the same time illustrating the ‘Nothing for Us without Us’mantra.
The collaboration of the two organizations emerged from the need for capacity strengthening and the recognition that the resources for that were available locally. After attending a sensitization training during the Voice Linking & Learning event, UP Babaylan representatives realized that within their own organization the culture had not been very sensitive to persons with disability. In their staff there was one Hanna, a person with a visual impairment who had been with the organization for almost two years and only after the training did they realize that there had been lapses in how some members interacted with her. Hanna had been virtually invisible, she had always been left behind.
After this wake-up call UP Babylan followed up this initial training with a request to LPDFI for further disability awareness and sensitivity training for the entire office staff. Hanna was no longer left behind, she was charged with content development for the sensitivity training which involved other organizations for people with disabilities. LCPDFI and Pinoy Deaf Rainbow collaborated to ensure that the campaign sensitively represents the community of persons with disability. LCDPFI facilitated the training. More than anything, the seminar and the campaign were definitely enlightening for the members, as well as to the subscribers of our page.
We’ve recognized that some of our habits weren’t that sensitive and inclusive and now, we are more careful in our encounters with our friends with disabilities’.
The seminar allowed the members to develop deeper insights about the struggles of people with disabilities and the intersectionality of the struggles faced by marginalized communities.
After the training, UP Babylan followed up by developing a draft of infographic publicity material for which they sought help from LCDPFI. In order to ensure that the content was inclusive and accessible LCDPFI provided editorial support until the first series was posted on their Facebook page. LCDPFI also responded to the request for social media support. This marked the strengthening of their collaboration.
The organizations plan to continue working in collaboration. UP Babylan has experienced a transformation in their approach and have adopted inclusiveness, proactivity especially with other marginalized groups as their mandate. UP Babylan has plans to consistently invite deaf interpreters to future webinars and events, and to provide all publicity materials with alternative texts. The Webinar on SOGIE Equality as a Religious Value featured early 2021 featured two deaf interpreters from Pinoy Deaf Rainbow. The organization plans to organize session for the entire UP student body.
LCDPFI on its part is committed to providing assistance to UP Babaylan and other organizations, duty bearers and other stakeholders in raising awareness regarding disability inclusion.