On World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), partners of the IPA2 project joined Autism-Europe’s two-year awareness raising campaign, “I can learn. I can work” to promote access to education and employment for people on the autism spectrum. In line with the objectives of the IPA2 project, the campaign recognizes the importance of providing training to teachers and supporting autistic people in their academic experiences.

It is estimated that across the European Union less than 10% of people on the autism spectrum are employed, and lack of access to education is partly to blame. Indeed, many autistic learners are excluded from the education system as they experience a lack of understanding of their individual needs and of adapted support. In order to respond to the challenges many autistic people face when accessing education (including to university and vocational training) and employment, AE is conducting a Europe-wide awareness raising campaign from 2020-2021, together with its member associations across all Europe, and beyond.

Autism-Europe called on people to join the campaign and to help highlight the diversity of ability that society can nurture to be more inclusive. To raise awareness about the objectives of the campaign, AE encouraged supporters to carry out the campaign gesture – holding or using a tool which represents their skills. This gesture is a symbol of empowerment and anyone can participate, whether they are autistic or not, to show that no one should be excluded or discriminated against.

IPA2 project partners shared pictures of themselves carrying out the campaign’s gesture to show that everyone in society has certain strengths that can be harnessed to progress in education and to access employment successfully, and the importance of educational staff in supporting this process. Members from partner organisation, Autismo Burgos, also put together a video for the campaign displaying their support for promoting access to employment and education.

The campaign takes place at a critical time, as the EU is currently discussing the future EU Disability Strategy 2020- 2030, for which AE is advocating. The coming years will also see the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights that states that ‘everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successful transitions in the labour market’. It is therefore a key opportunity to make our voice heard and bring the needs of people on the autism spectrum to the forefront.

How can I support the campaign?

  • Find a tool that represents one of your skills;
  • Make a video/ GIF of yourself holding the tool (and maybe using it);
  • OR take a picture of yourself holding the tool (and maybe using it);
  • Share it on social media using the #AutismDay2020 hashtag or send it to Autism Europe via email

*Alternatively, you can just take a picture of yourself holding the visual of the campaign.

The official video of the campaign was created by Autism-Europe and aims to highlight that we can all contribute to the inclusion of autistic people. AE has also released a campaign toolkit that explains the objectives of the campaign and includes communication materials and strategies in more than 10 different languages, as well as an Easy-To-Read version.