The History of the BlueAssist Movement
Many people with disabilities spend their time beyond the ebb and flow of their local community. Opportunities for employment, leisure, travel to or within unknown environments; each presents a wide range of challenges.
BlueAssist began with an ethos of bridging the gap between the needs of the person with a disability and the community around them by providing a system of communication. With the BlueAssist message the person can express their needs and the general public can respond.
BlueAssist was developed at Ithaka, a small centre for adults with learning difficulties in the centre of Ostend, Belgium. Developed from the initial low tech system of written cards with a distinctive logo, and the words Dare to Connect; the system has now been developed using high tech smart phone technology.
The symbol is there to help the public understand that the person asking for help may not be able to communicate easily, just as the wheelchair symbol is recognised for those with physical difficulties.
When the person presents a BlueAssist message which has been pre-prepared such as “Please can you help me catch the number 5 bus”, the member of the public understands what is needed and can provide assistance.
BlueAssist UK Ltd was incorporated in November 2013, held the first Trustee Meeting in January 2014 and is now fundraising to enable the work to continue.
The Worldwide Movement
The BlueAssist movement is now spreading across Europe with charities being set up to share the idea in Holland, and Germany. Now BlueAssist UK Ltd has been established as a CIO charity. The aim is:-
“To promote the use of the Blue Assist Symbol in order to engage people with any disability with the wider community”
We want the charity to develop public understanding of the symbol. To encourage organisations such as transport companies to have their staff trained in how to support someone with a BlueAssist request, and provide that training at an affordable cost.
To develop the recognition of BlueAssist in shops, and public buildings and to ensure that people with a disability know they have a system that will give greater independence and freedom.
As BlueAssist becomes a world wide movement, with more charities being set up in different countries it is the people of Ostende who have really taken the movement to heart by declaring Ostend a BlueAssist town. Listen to the declaration of the Alderman as he shares the dream and hopes the Blueassist icon will be as famous as the M in Mcdonalds: