I wish to acknowledge the team from Social Welfare Department of Taipei City Government and participants from all fields for the collaboration and Taiwan National Development Council for creating the internet participation platform.
I’d like to acknowledge the contribution of Peggy on the structure of the presentation and Audrey’s assistance in submitting the abstract, and Sho’s assistance in translation.
Bonjour. Je m'appelle Chia-Hua. I am from Taiwan. Before I begin, I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself. This slide gives some information of my background and experience. In Taiwan, my work mainly focuses on facilitating deliberative meetings, policy communication, planning and capacity building for civic participation.
I would like to divide the next 15 minutes into four sections.
First, I'd like to give you the background of the story I'm sharing today and explain my role. Second, I want to explain what are the two barriers for civic participation and how we address them. In the third section, I'll tell you how I see the government's communication and response in this story. Finally, I'd like to give a preliminary review, and explain that the field of civic participation needs to engage more people.
So how did the story begin? It started from an official letter issue by the Taipei City Government, asking for my advice on how to protect public housing distribution for socially disadvantaged people. To be honest, I don't really understand those difficult forms that requires professional techniques to calculate. The government relies on these difficult forms to deal with public distribution issues. But in fact, it's a simple topic. It means, after securing certain quota, how does the government distribute public housing to minority or people who need special protection? This includes those who maybe"cannot afford" and those house owners wouldn't rent to. Clearly, the"cannot afford" type, means not having enough money in the pocket to pay for a place to stay. For the"wouldn't rent to" type, it might include, elderlies who live alone, single moms, disabled. And it is the hardest for mentally disabled people to find a place to rent.
What happens in the Taipei City Government is, like other cities in Taiwan, 10% of public housing goes to those citizens who cannot afford. However, after campaigns and demands made by Taiwan's civil groups, Taipei City Government secures an extra 20% of the public housing for minorities. So, the problem now is, who gets the 10% plus 20% public housing. What minorities are we talking about? This work is under the Social Welfare Department's duty.
I have been facilitating meeting for public sector and civil groups for a long time. For example, in this picture I was facilitating a meeting for the Tainan City Government. Tainan is an historic city in south Taiwan. The citizen's forum is about urban planning. Again, my role was third party, at the same time, I am a member of the Civic Participation Council in Taipei City Government from the civil society. In my role, I helped to host a public hearing to discuss if the city should tear down and move a historic building. This is why the Social Welfare Department in Taipei City asked for my help to make plans for this case.
In my view, there are two barriers for civic participation in this case. First, I'd like to focus on how to make it accessible for mentally and physically disabled people. To take down this barrier is a big lesson for me to learn.
For the mentally and physically disabled people to participate, I think the standard set-up include, text broadcast, audio transcription, sign language interpretation, and live broadcast. We need to try as much as possible to allow the disabled individuals to participate and express themselves.
Text broadcast means that through online collaboration, no matter it's people who are in the meeting or people far away, they can all see the simultaneous text broadcasting and participate in the meeting. We mainly used hackpad this time. Also, we invited audio transcribers to type word-by-word for hearing impaired people to see. The text is shown on the screen with big font. There are also sign language interpreters who can interpret all the participants's words or the sign language right away. Through the sign language interpreters, communication and confirmation can be done. More than this, there's also video and audio live broadcast. This makes it possible for visually impaired people or people who can't be there in person to know what's happening.
All these preparation. Even they are there. Doesn't mean we did a good job. These should be basic set up that can make the meetings more friendly for everyone.
And…does that mean barriers don't exist for the general public?