To Sibylle Brandt equality, equal opportunity and the right to equal treatment of all people from all walks of life is an important concern. How an accidental meeting with former Chancellor Willy Brandt influenced her and which questions she wishes to be answered by society, she tells us at REHACARE.com.
Name: Sibylle Brandt Age: 57 City: Veitshöchheim, Germany Occupation: Previously marketing specialist, retrained to become the first blind administrative specialist (German: Vfa-K Deutschland), now disability pensioner, Chairman of the AG Selbst Aktiv Bayern, Ambassador for Inclusion with ISL Impairment: Blind, Fibromyalgia
When did you last laugh heartily and what about?
Sibylle Brandt: Just now at my cats that also have disabilities. They ganged up to snatch a fried schnitzel and carried it across the hall. But the theft actually made a third party happy; my guide dog "Sony" snitched the loot away from them and ate the prize herself.
What have you always been wanting to do and why have you never done this so far?
Sibylle Brandt: There are many things that I have always wanted to do. One of them is to conquer a ropes challenge course as a blind person. Unfortunately, I have not had the time for it yet and also have not found a partner, who accompanies and guides me.
Which person has influenced you most? And why?
Sibylle Brandt: My namesake! Many years ago when I was eight or nine years old, I was fortunate to have met Willy Brandt, while I was taking a walk with my parents. He has given this little girl some advice I have lived by ever since: "The most important thing in life is to follow your heart and be fair and honest with other people." This is something I have never forgotten and I try to act accordingly and live by it.
You have the chance to become the Commissioner for the Disabled in your country. What would you do first?
Sibylle Brandt: I would do everything in my power to build and strengthen the solidarity among people with disabilities and impairments because as long as we don’t agree with each other, we are not taken seriously. Only together we can be a force in the nation that nobody could continue to ignore.
Your life is made into a film: Who would represent you?
Sibylle Brandt: That’s a difficult question and I actually don’t have an answer for you. Even though I have a favorite actress, I am otherwise not very familiar with the genre. And offering Sandra Bullock to play this role reeks a bit of delusion of grandeur.
Sibylle Brandt: ...in government and in charge of disability policies in a cross-party coalition.
Which questions would you like answered the most?
Sibylle Brandt: 1. When will people finally realize that Article 1 and 3 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany also apply to people with disabilities and understand that the appreciation of every single person is the foundation of society?
2. Why do people and especially officials holding a mandate find it so hard to accept that 29 million people with impairments and disabilities in Germany are not a fringe group of society?
3. Why is our society unable to accept that people with disabilities are not just a cost factor but actually enrich our society?
4. When will people accept that inclusion is an opportunity for our society, especially for the economy (new products, new occupations, and assistance options)?
5. When will we finally have the first German Service Dog Law?
6. The Federal Participation Law (BTHG) is just a reform of the German Social Code, Book IX (SGBIX). When will it be updated for the nearly 29 million people with impairments and disabilities that are not covered by integration assistance? We need a prompt continuation on the subjects of work, education, health, mobility, digital life, communication, environment, family etc.
7. When will we finally have a standard federal “train wagon“ at German Railways? (I don’t mean to segregate people. If you don’t want to use the wagon, you don’t have to but for all others, it would mean a huge relief).
8. A great education, training, and continuing education are very expensive. When will we have a school and training budget to support people with disabilities?
9. When will all people with disabilities be entitled to the personal budget, so we can all participate in society on an equal basis with others?
10. Animal welfare, nature conservation, environment and climate protection are also extremely important to me and as people with disabilities, we should also stand up for these causes. Why is there no adequate support for this from federal, state and local authorities?
11. The same applies to the fight against right-wing radicalism and right-wing ideology. We finally have to take a stand in this case as well.
What I finally want to say?
Sibylle Brandt: As I have mentioned earlier, animal welfare, nature conservation, environment and climate protection are very important to me. We recently founded the first inclusive animal sanctuary in my hometown. Here, people with disabilities are committed to animal welfare and try to bring a bit of joy to other people with disabilities or dementia by exposing them to animals that are also sick or disabled. I love to be committed and involved and will continue to fight but I wished that we could stop tilting at windmills and that the dedication of the many thousands of people in our country finally bears fruit, fundamentally changes the circumstances and conditions and is fully appreciated.