The love for diversity has inspired Kolibrí Festivaali since its inception, in 2015. Kolibrí was created as a safe and welcoming space for children and their families, regardless of their cultural and linguistic origins, of their family configurations, background, generation or belief system. Our intergenerational and plurilingual program has no counterpart in the Nordic Region. For one, all content produced for our website, social media platforms and much of Kolibrí’s events is available in 5 languages: Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese and English. Kolibrí provides opportunities to experience the diversity of contemporary Finnish society in a safe and positive atmosphere. It’s no wonder that improving accessibility for people with disabilities has also been on our radar for some time. While we, at Kultturikeskus Ninho and Kolibrí Festivaali, recognize that there is still much to be done, we are proud of what we have already accomplished.
In this respect, our website is being redesigned to be WCAG compliant and therefore accessible to people with disabilities, including those taking advantage of assistive technologies. This redesign will be done in incremental steps, the first step was completed in August 2021 and includes change of colors, fonts and images to increase contrast and readability, improvement of keyboard navigation, inclusion of proper levels of headings, etc. According to the WCAG compliance checker tool, our new site covers 87% of the requirements at the moment.
We also have a history of workshops that present disability for children in a light and playful way, promoting inclusion and educating families. Starting with the 2020 edition, we have also expanded our annual call for artists to explicitly include artists and performers with special needs. In 2021, we had a workshop facilitated by Jasmiina Sipilä and Ida Mokki, from Ammattiopisto Live, in which participants explored how to convey feelings through dance. The workshop used the DanceAbility method, encouraging the participation of people with or without disabilities, as well as minimal verbal language, conveying meaning through movement, light and images.
We have implemented training sessions for artists and performers on the inclusion of people with disabilities in 2021. The highlight of our training was the special participation of Maija Karhunen, artist and disability activist, who shared her perspective on art and disability.
Kolibrí also offered all participants, from audience members to artists and volunteers, the “Serenity Corner”. This is a safe and calm space for those needing a comfortable spot for a sensory break. Besides comfortable furniture and a sensory-neutral atmosphere, the space contained toys and activities to help regulate those with overwhelmed sensory systems. The “Serenity Corner” may prove very valuable to autistic people or those with ADHD, but can also be used by anyone who needs a quiet space, like breastfeeding mothers for instance.