Mr. Marczinzik, what does the abbreviation PIKSL stand for and what is the idea behind the project?
Tobias Marczinzik: The German acronym PIKSL stands for ”person-centered interaction and communication for an independent life“. The project idea originated with the “In der Gemeinde leben gGmbH, IGL (Community living) organization which supports individuals with learning disabilities in assisted living and inpatient care. Six years ago, our clients approached the management board and our associates and expressed their concerns about being digitally left behind due to the digital structural change. They asked us for assistance and we then jointly deliberated how we could approach this project together. This gave way to the creation of the PIKSL Lab which focuses on digital inclusion and the removal of digital barriers. In collaboration with the customers, the lab also creates new products and services based on universal design guidelines.
How does the PIKSL Lab work and who can participate?
Marczinzik: The Lab is an open communication site in Düsseldorf Flingern. Everybody is welcome here, regardless of age or profession. Here you can obtain advice on computer issues and new media, try things out and participate in courses but also tackle problems with the team on site.
Assistants and PIKSL professionals who are experts in simplifying are always available on location. You can also call the Lab a think tank where we deliberate how digital barriers can be removed.
One unique feature of PIKSL is that we recognize individuals with learning difficulties as true experts in developing custom solutions and reducing complexity because they experience obstacles every day. They know the barriers and develop solutions to avoid them. That’s why from the start, individuals with learning difficulties are always sitting at the same table with our research and development partners and contribute their expertise.
You also offer inclusive corporate training courses. What experiences do you focus on here?
Marczinzik: The focus of the training sessions is for individuals with and without disabilities to get to know each other with the objective of removing reservations. We have already conducted these training sessions with L’Oréal or Deutsche Bank for example. It is important to us that the associates in the respective companies get to know and experience the life of individuals with disabilities. There are many people who have little contact with disabilities in their daily life. During the training sessions, we assemble mixed teams who venture out during a geocaching campaign for instance and solve tasks together. This creates a team-building process where the participants get to know each other and become more sensitive to others.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Marczinzik: On the one hand, I think that inclusion in our society is strongly focused and discussed at the level of inclusion in the classroom. This is not enough because inclusion also pertains to areas such as work, living or leisure activities for instance. On the other hand, I believe the debate over disabilities and limitations is shaped by deficits. When we first meet other people we always notice what the other person is not able to do. That’s a problem because I am overlooking the resources and potential of the individual. I would like to see an inclusive society that focuses on capabilities and learns from individuals with disabilities.