On World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), partners of the IPA2 project participated in the second stage of Autism-Europe’s awareness raising campaign, “I can learn. I can work”. The campaign aims to inform and raise awareness on access to education and employment for people on the autism spectrum, even during the pandemic and its containment measures.

IPA2 partners shared pictures of themselves performing the campaign “holding a tool” gesture as a way of showing the diversity of ability that society can nurture to be more inclusive. In line with the objectives of the IPA2 project, the campaign recognizes the importance of providing training on autism to teachers and supporting autistic people in their education whether that be in person, or virtually.

It is estimated that 5 million people are on the autism spectrum in the European Union. Most autistic people experience widespread discrimination in many areas of life including in employment and education. The campaign aims to promote access to inclusive education and employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum through the EU. During the second stage of the campaign in 2021, specific COVID-19 related topics including distance education, reasonable accommodation, mental health and pandemic related challenges are being addressed too.

The release of the European Disability Strategy for 2021-2030 and the Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as the announcement of the Child Guarantee mark the first months of 2021. These developments to support the rights of people with disabilities in the European Union will set the pace for our campaign actions, as access to education and employment for autistic people have a strong presence within these instruments.

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. Even though World Autism Awareness Day has passed, you can still support the campaign!

How can I support?

People willing to support the campaign can post pictures of themselves on social media using the hashtag #AutismDay2021. They can either hold a tool that represents one of their skills (it can be linked either with their ability to learn, or their ability to work on a specific field) or hold the campaign visual.

AE has also released a campaign toolkit (and a special annex for 2021) that explains the objectives of the campaign and includes communication materials and strategies, as well as in Easy-To-Read format (also for the 2021 annex).

In late March 2021, AE hosted a webinar on the theme “I can LEARN. I can WORK.” The European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli and Members of the European Parliament Katrin Langensiepen and Chiara Gemma provided insight into the rights and needs of people with disabilities across Europe in terms of education and employment. Autistic people and their families, autism organisations, professionals, employers, EU policy-makers and the general population took also part of this collaborative online event.

The webinar is available to watch on demand anytime. Click here for more information on the event.

IPA2 supporters