VIDEO ADVOCACY CASE STUDY
ACCESSIBILITY IN ROMANIA
Using Video to Change Public Policy & Practice
Organization Producing the Videos:
Asociatia Ceva de Spus
Country of Production:
Wheelchair accessibility on public transportation
Intended Use of the Video:
To influence implementation of public policy and practice
Government officials and bus drivers in Romania
Access in Community (2.43 min video)
Accessibility! (3.48 min video)
While there were policies in place in Romania around public transportation accessibility, trams in the Romanian city of Timisoara were not accessible for those with disabilities, and public bus drivers often would not stop and pick up disabled passengers. In fact, many bus drivers could not stop because the police had not addressed the problem of illegal parking in areas designated for buses to stop for disabled passengers.
Created in 2011, Asociatia Ceva de Spus (Association Something to Say) is a Romanian community-based disability rights non-governmental organization composed of 40 members with physical and/or intellectual disabilities who identify as ‘self-advocates’. The Board of Directors, composed of five people with disabilities and two additional Advisors, plays a key role in the organization, functioning as a sounding board to guide decision-making.
Ceva de Spus meets with and writes letters to authorities and decision-makers to influence municipal decisions that affect the lives of those with disabilities. It also connects with the broader community of people with disabilities, participating in conferences and regional organizations such as the European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) and the European Disability Forum (EDF).
Overall, Ceva de Spus chose video testimonies to tell the stories of people with disabilities. In the case of the campaign around accessible public transportation, they used video to show the challenges that people with disabilities face when carrying out simple daily activities such as going to school or work, attending a cultural event or traveling.
Ceva de Spus initially planned to produce a 20-30 minute video but then learned at several storytelling trainings that a shorter 3-4 minute video focused on one topic at a time could be more effective. Ceva de Spus’ productions are simple yet effective, shot by a photographer who has some video production knowledge and often produces freelance work for Ceva de Spus.
Advocacy Objectives and Target Audiences
Since 2011, Ceva de Spus has been advocating for accessible public transportation so that people with disabilities can get around their communities more easily. The goal of this campaign was for decision-makers to ensure that public transportation in Timisoara is accessible. This would require better infrastructure in public buildings and trams, and for police officers to enforce parking rules so that bus drivers could can pick up people who have disabilities. To this end, Ceva de Spus decided it needed one video introducing the organization and its mission (Access in Community) and another video (Accessibility!) focusing on the story of its then Co-President Raluca Popescu and the challenges that people with disabilities face.
VIDEO 1: Access in Community (2015)
For this 2.34 min video, Ceva de Spus opted for its then Co-President Raluca Popescu to introduce the organization (with other members of Ceva de Spus visible in the background) and tell her story. Her narration is interlaced with video and still images that illustrate the daily challenges she describes while trying to get around . For example, the video shows her trying to get on a tram without a ramp, while she explains that often drivers are unwilling to lower the ramp manually. On a train she often needs two people to help a wheelchair board up the stairs.
The video took seven days to produce, including filming and editing; the cost was roughly $250 USD.
VIDEO 2: Accessibility! (2016)
For this 2.34 min video, Ceva de Spus’ then Co-President Raluca Popescu speaks about how she likes to move around the city and do all the things that all 23-year-olds like to do, over video images of her getting around the city in a wheelchair. She also speaks of the challenges in changing society’s mentality and attitude towards people with disabilities, and she speaks hopefully about how she has seen change come slowly.
Raluca also sends a message to people with disabilities to speak up about the problems they face because no one else will do that for them. Accessibility! took three days to film, the editing process was six weeks long, and it cost roughly 400 Euros to edit.
Impact Distribution Strategy
Through access to key authorities, Ceva de Spus screened both videos during meetings with the mayor, the vice-mayor and the mayor’s wife to put the issue of accessibility in public transportation on the government’s agenda. The mayor then presented the videos during the local council meeting attended by members of Ceva de Spus.
Additionally, as part of a strategy to ensure that policies were actually implemented, Ceva de Spus screened the videos to police officers so that they would understand the importance of enforcing parking rules and restrictions, thereby allowing bus drivers to stop and pick up people with disabilities. Screenings for the bus drivers were also held to ensure that they knew to stop for people with disabilities.
Impact and Outcomes
The video played a role in improving accessibility in public transportation in Timisoara. In 2016, 14 trams were made accessible and by 2018, 16 additional trams will be made accessible so that all 30 trams in the city will be accessible to people with disabilities.
Moreover, the efforts of the campaign have also helped to improve the accessibility of public buildings; for example, the museum and theater in Timisoara have since received funds to make their buildings accessible.