Gütersloh, 12/08/2021

Spotlight On People With Disabilities

AFS-Building in Verl with flags

Subject: Society
Country: Germany
Category: Project

On International Day of People with Disabilities, Bertelsmann companies organized a variety of measures and activities to advocate for the rights and participation of people with disabilities – from information events on inclusion and videos with testimonials and tips, to colorful flags and specially illuminated company buildings.

To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, various German Bertelsmann companies advocated for the rights of people with disabilities to participate in society – and by extension, in companies. For example, several virtual information events offered interested executives and employees of Bertelsmann companies the opportunity to learn more about the “Bertelsmann Action Plan for Inclusion 2019-2024,” an idea that was developed as part of a Bertelsmann Content Alliance working group on “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” and at the recent annual meeting of Bertelsmann’s Disabilities Representatives in Hamburg.

In a video produced especially for the occasion, several employees with disabilities, from various divisions, talk about their experiences with inclusion and accessibility in the workplace. They talk about the great support they receive from their coworkers and managers when needed, and about their work, which they have to do just like everyone else. Aids procured with the support of the disability representatives, such as a scooter or a new monitor, provide greater mobility and better vision. They praise the understanding shown for their situation and their individual requirements, such as sign language interpreters, but also give tips on how best to communicate with people with hearing impairments – e.g. speaking directly to the person and articulating clearly or, in times of Covid, keeping a safe distance with your mask lowered to make it possible, or easier, to lip-read. And managers are explicitly encouraged to rely on and support employees with disabilities, precisely because they can make an important contribution to the performance of the entire team with their motivation, which is often very high, and integrative power.

Addressed in RTL Deutschland’s programming

On International Day of People with Disabilities, RTL Deutschland reminded viewers that the company’s channels have been broadcasting subtitled programming for some time now: on average, 22 hours per day across the family of channels, including at least nine formats in primetime. In an intranet article, the company pointed out how it addresses and includes people with disabilities in its programs and on social media. Just this October, for example, RTL Deutschland’s social media channels spotlighted the topic of inclusion. As part of the “#InklusionVerstehen” (Understanding Inclusion) theme week, employees talked about their lives with disabilities or about their efforts for people with disabilities. Last year, the TV station Vox broadcast the report “Ich bin besonders – mein Leben mit dem Downsyndrom” (I’m special – My life with Down syndrome), the biggest German TV project to date on the subject of Down syndrome. Also in October, Vox aired the new dating format “Besonders verliebt” (A Special Kind of Love) which gave an authentic glimpse into the love journey of people with disabilities. And in spring 2022, RTL+ and later Vox will show “Weil wir Champions sind” (Because We Are Champions), a film in which actor Wotan Wilke Möhring celebrates being “different” and humorously appeals for an inclusive approach to all people.

As part of its day of action on December 3, the family channel Super RTL supported the start-up “Talking Hands,” known from the TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen” (German “Shark Tank”), which develops sign-language flipbooks to promote inclusive communication. According to the company, the flipbooks enable young children to sign key terms in a targeted manner. Because when children have problems with spoken communication, this often leads to exclusion in many areas. This is exactly where “Talking Hands” enters the picture with its flipbooks for signing: The flipbooks’ playful and inclusive learning approach makes it easier for children with and without disabilities to approach signing. This simplifies communication with each other and breaks down any language barriers. Toggo Radio interviewed the two founders, and flipbook GIFs were posted on Instagram and published on an information page at www.toggoeltern.de.  Super RTL also donated several sets of flipbook boxes and learning posters to integrative daycare centers in the Cologne area.

Increasing accessibility

In a video, Jeanette Venzke, Inclusion Officer in the UFA HR department, reported on the various measures the film and TV production company is taking to drive forward the “Bertelsmann Action Plan Inclusion 2019-2024,” which address such matters as workplace conditions, health and employee recruitment. Among other things, UFA is intensifying its efforts to increase accessibility in the company building in Potsdam; this extends to spatial accessibility as well as visual accessibility. Inclusion is very important to the company as a whole, says Jeanette Venzke, which is why the inclusion of disabilities is also playing an increasingly important or “normal” role in the formats produced by UFA.

In a video released in-house, Thorsten Terraschke and Ralf Laube explain the tasks of the Disabilities Representative Office at Gruner + Jahr in Hamburg. As designated trusted representatives for people with disabilities at G+J, they work closely with the representatives at Ad Alliance, DPV and Territory in order to be “stronger together,” as they emphasize. They also talk about the specific support available to employees with disabilities in the workplace, if needed, and what construction measures at the Pressehaus on Baumwall are designed to ensure accessibility.

Bertelsmann companies also created visual attention for the Day of Action and Remembrance by decorating their buildings with colorful flags and lights. Arvato Financial Solutions raised flags of the Disabilities Office emblazoned with the motto “For the strengths in every person” at its sites in Baden-Baden and Verl in the district of Gütersloh, as did Arvato Supply Chain Solutions at its Düren site, among others. RTL Deutschland participated in the global “Purple Light Up” campaign by illuminating its Cologne headquarters in purple as a visible sign of support for people with disabilities, while Arvato Financial Solutions colored its logo purple on its social media channels.