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A trade fair for everyone

What is the sign for combine harvester? The two interpreters look at each other questioningly and talk shop with the participants on the tour. Hands fly, eyebrows dance, there is laughter. Everyone has understood what is meant.

For the first time this year, Grüne Wocheis offering guided tours for deaf and hearing-impaired people. The first tour took place on Sunday. Four people signed up, including Olena and Viktor Leshchymenko. "We come from Ukraine," says Viktor. The first language he learnt when he arrived here was German sign language.

Getting into conversation

At the Forum for Modern Agriculture stand, agricultural scout Matts Gier talks about his job. Viktor and Olena have lots of questions. "At first it was a bit unusual not to have such direct contact because everyone was looking at the interpreter, but I think it's cool that we got talking like this," says Matts.

The only way to find out which communication obstacles arise and which parameters can be changed at the trade fair to make the event even more inclusive is by trying things out. Grüne Woche wants to be a trade fair for everyone. Project manager Karen Raupach has been campaigning for years for a more accessible event. Putting yourself in the shoes of other people who experience the world differently to you is the big challenge in this work. "Guided tours are great, but people also want to be independent," says Raupach. "We always have to think along with them and talk to our exhibitors. Accessibility means that someone who can't grasp something mentally should be able to understand everything," she says.

Barrier-free approaches

In addition to the guided tour for the deaf and hard of hearing, which will take place again this Monday at 10.30 a.m. with a different selection of exhibitors (meeting point is the info counter between Halls 5.2 and 6.2), there will also be guided tours for blind and visually impaired people. Information on registering for the handicap tours, on wheelchair hire or on trade fair tickets for accompanying persons is available in plain language on the new "Barrier-free" subpage of the Grüne Woche website. There is also a reduced hall plan and videos in sign language.

Room of silence

But what about restrictions that are not as clearly visible as a wheelchair or a blindfold? People with social phobias may want to withdraw for once. The opportunities for this are limited at a Grüne Woche with around 300,000 guests, but the trade fair has set up the Room of Silence in Hall 6.2 for such cases. There is also a family and breastfeeding room in Hall 1.2, Room Stuttgart, to offer families a place to retreat. "We want to take everyone with us. This is a process, and it's far from over," says Karen Raupach.

The tour has now arrived in the Sachsen-Halle, at the stand of the Reinhard coffee roasting company. Mike Reinhardt talks about the different types of roast. His microphone is connected to the headphones of the sign language interpreters. Without headphones, it is impossible to understand him in the noisy hall. Now if only you knew sign language...

Bei der Gehörlosenführung

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