Gdynia's comprehensive measures have made it one of the first deaf-friendly cities in Poland, ensuring that residents with special needs can fully participate in, and benefit from, city services.
ACCESSIBLE AND FRIENDLY TO ALL
Gdynia is one of the first cities in Poland to become completely accessible and friendly for the deaf. The city has adopted novel, effective measures with the aim to increase the accessibility of the City Hall for residents, and to improve the living conditions and functioning of people with special needs who are at risk of being marginalised or discriminated against due to a disability, age, or illness.
INTEGRATING SIGN LANGUAGE INTO CITY SERVICES
In 1997, Gdynia was one of the first cities to include sign language interpretation at every session of the session City Council. Two sign language interpreters are currently employed by the Resident Service Centre and are available for citizens by appointment. In addition, the city provides access to an online sign-language interpreter through video chat and a text messaging service, and distributes accessible instructions for using the interpreter booking system. Gdynia Contact Centre also translates information in the Public Information Bulletin into sign language, including information on how to deal with any given matter, what documents to bring, and relevant fees and charges for services. Finally, in 2018, a group of 15 city hall employees participated in a 120-hour sign language course with the aim of better serving citizens who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
PROMOTING INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
The measures that Gdynia has taken to promote accessibility has had wide-reaching impacts. City employees are educated on various types of disabilities and appropriate conduct towards individuals with disabilities. Hiring individuals with disabilities promotes diversity and counters social exclusion, while also raising awareness and sensitivity among other employees. Additionally, this provides an opportunity for cultural exchange and language learning. Having the option for digital communication methods also means that those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can now handle their own affairs without relying on external assistance, fostering a sense of empowerment, security, and comfort.