MTÜ Kakora’s activities in 2006-2010.
During the period in question MTÜ Kakora has initiated numerous significant cultural projects aimed at the disabled and introduced new methods in Estonia that enable also the visually impaired to enjoy cultural events and participate in the creation of art.
We have engaged both in the presenting/introducing of tactile books as well as in the making of new unique tactile books.
The presentations took place in the following locations and during the following time period: in Pärnu in October 2006, in Haapsalu in April 2007, in Tartu (on two occasions) in May 2007 and in Kuressaare in July 2007.
The presentations of tactile books in 2008:
At a book day organised at the Tartu Emajõe School; on Estonian Television’s (ETV’s) programme “Puutepunkt” filmed on 22 February 2008 and aired on 30 March 2008 and on the same television channel’s programme “Bionina” on 17 March 2008; at a book day organised at the Hiiumaa/Kärdla Library; on TV3’s programme “Tähetund” filmed on 28 August 2008 and aired on 5 September 2008; at the presentation of tactile books at the Tallinn Helen’s School on 21 October 2008.
Participating at the international conference titled “25 Years of Tactile Books in Finland” on 3 October 2008.
In 2009, tactile books were presented in two locations: at the Tallinn 1st Boarding School on 18 November 2009 and at the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy on 18 December 2009.
Tactile books were also presented on 8 and 9 June 2010 at the Tammistu Manor located in the Tartu County where the conference for families with disabled children organised by the Estonian Agrenska Foundation took place.
By today, we have presented as much as 25 tactile books to various recipients as gifts. These books have been received by the Estonian Library for the Blind, the Tartu Emajõe School, the Tallinn Helen’s School and numerous visually impaired individuals.
In the course of two broader scale projects a total of six tactile books were made for the Estonian Library for the Blind by the work group “Beautiful Tactile Book”. For more information go to www.sarasyl.com.
During the abovementioned time period, the Estonian Library for the Blind received the following books: two books based on folk stories titled The Wolf and Ice-Fishing and The Fox Goes Fishing, a fairytale book titled Little Red Riding Hood and three books about the nature titled Peter the Potato, Autumn and Teeth Brothers.
We also collaborated with other organisations in order to be able to take our books to the first tactile book competition in Europe/ the world organised in Dijon, France.
From 6 to 9 June 2007, Kadi Sarapuu, a member of the management board of MTÜ Kakora was in Erfurd, Germany at the meeting of the T&T leading team as a participant in the T&T project and, as part of the same project, Sülvi ja Kadi Sarapuu, members of the management board of MTÜ Kakora participated as judges at the T&T competition in Dijon, France from 7 till 10 November 2007. The books made in Estonia were seen as sound competition by other European contestants.
We organised a tactile book competition for participants exclusively from Estonia, which resulted in the Estonian Library for the Blind receiving an additional thirty tactile books.
The panel of judges at the competition was made up by the following persons: Sülvi Sarapuu (MTÜ Kakora), Ülle Olt (an information desk employee from the Estonian Library for the Blind), Kairi Ilmets (a special education teacher from the Tallinn Helen’s School), Kaire Olt (a teacher of arts), Tiia Artla (a lecturer at the Tallinn University) and Kadi Sarapuu (MTÜ Kakora); the judges viewed and assessed 31 unique tactile books of various levels of craftsmanship, 10 of which were selected for sending to the competition in Dijon.
All the books that entered the main and the preliminary competition were given to the Estonian Library for the Blind from where visually impaired children and their parents as wellas the social welfare and educational institutions can borrow them.
The panel of judges of the Typhlo & Tactus competition handed out a special prize, which was given to the Estonian tactile book Cheese Hunt made by Liis Raudsepp who was supervised by Kaire Olt. The prize was presented to Liis Raudsepp on 29 February 2008 in Tallinn, at the festive concert-ceremony organised by the North Estonian Association of the Blind and dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.
Another one of our aims is to introduce such new methods in Estonia that would make cultural events more accessible for disabled individuals/various groups of disabled people.
“The Pilot Days of Audio Describers” organised at the Tallinn University and the Tartu Toy Museum took place from 7 to 8 Mai 2007 and had 30 participants. The Pilot Days gave a brief insight into the issue of audio description. With the help of two competent lecturers, Riitta Lahtinen and Mikko Ojanen, we learned who audio describers were and what their job was about.
The first art exhibition visit where we used the services of an audio describer was the exhibition titled “Pretty Cripple” set up at the Tallinn Activity Centre for the Disabled which we visited in October 2007 and which was audio described a by an actor called Mart Aas.
The joint efforts made by Sülvi Sarapuu, the curator of the exhibition and MTÜ Kakora, the North Estonian Association of the Blind, the Tallinn Activity Centre for the Disabled, the Estonian Union of Disabled Women, the textile artist Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo and the Tallinn Social Welfare and Health Services Board were priceless.
ETV featured the exhibition in its programme “Puutepunkt” on 25 November 2007.
Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo’s exhibition “Pretty Cripple” talks about social flaws in the society from the point of view of the disabled.
The exhibition “Pritty Cripple” was opened at Y Gallery in Tartu on 25 March 2008 where we also organised a gallery visit for the visually impaired accompanied by audio description by Mart Aas.
The opening of the exhibition titled “Loomakari” (“Pack of Animals”) at the Tallinn Art Hall on 11 March 2009, which was accompanied by audio description was very popular. The exhibition presented the pieces of work by the Finnish textile artist Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo-Heimonen and was featured on TV3 on 12 May 2009.
A course on ceramics for the visually impaired from Estonia and Finland took place from 19 till 21 September 2008 (6 participants from Estonia, 3 from Finland plus the instructor Soile Paasonen.) The first exhibition of the pieces of work completed at the course titled “SINASÕPRUS-SINUNKAUPAT“ could be seen in Helsinki from 1 till 15 December 2008, in Tallinn from 5 till 31 January 2009, in Tartu from 25 February till 31 March 2009 and in Pärnu from 13 April till 21 May 2009.
On 16 October 2009 we saw the opening of a joint exhibition of two visually impaired Finnish artists, the painter Maarit Hedman and the photographer Ismo Tilanto. The exhibition titled ”Muutumine – Muutos” was opened at the Tallinn Activity Centre for the Blind and could be enjoyed till 13 November 2009. From Tallinn, the exhibition was taken to the Kondase Centre in Viljandi where it was officially opened on 31 Janury 2010. The next stop for the exhibition was LOOV Gallery in Tartu where it was open for everyone to enjoy from 19 February till 6 March 2010 after which it was taken back to Finland. At the opening ceremonies, volunteers recited the poems and thoughts the authors had written about their pieces of work.
At the beginning of June 2010 we organised a finger-painting course, which was supervised by the painter Maarit Hedman. During the course lasting for 6 hours 20 finger-painted pieces of work were completed.
In 2007 we started negotiating with the Museum Counsellor of the Estonian Ministry of Culture in order to find ways for making the Open Door DVD material accessible for the employees of Estonian museums.
As part of the negotiations we participated at the conference called “Making Cultural Heritage Truly Inclusive. Prospects of Accessibility in Nordic Museums” that took place in Finland in October 2007.
We also participated at the seminar initiated by audio describers and aimed at organisers of cultural events that took place in Helsinki in November 2007.
On 20 October 2008 we held negotiations at the Art Museum of Estonia (KUMU) on the accessibility of culture. Museums, exhibitions.
We offered the Open Door material to museums, organised presentations and training courses.
We applied for sponsorship from the audiovisual arts endowment programme of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia in order to get an Estonian feature film to supplied with audio description on two occasions but got turned down both times.
Via the Ministry of Education and Research, the Gambling Tax Council sponsored the audio description of the feature film titled Ruudi in December 2008.
From 15 till 16 October 2008 we participated at the Estonian fair for the disabled, Invamess 2008.
In 2009 MTÜ Kakora and the Estonian Support Union for Parents of Blind Children submitted a joint request to the Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian Academy of Arts asking them to refresh their curriculum and consider the making and installing of miniature tactile models of significant architectural monuments in the city environment of Tallinn that would supplied with relevant information (the year of completion, the name of the architect, the name or purpose of the building).
We have still not received an answer from the Estonian Academy of Arts.
In 2010 we also participated at the panel think tank session dedicated to the 130th birthday of Helen Keller that was initiated on 18 November 2009 by the Support Union of the Deafblind.
The year 2009 started with participating at the first event of the collaborative project titled “Louis Braille 200” on 4 January 2009. MTÜ Kakora’s members introduced tactile books to the wider public at the Viru shopping centre in Tallinn and the Tasku shopping centre in Tartu. Children were given the chance to make pages for tactile books but this chance was taken only by children from Taru and, unfortunately, not enough pages were made to compile a full book.
At both events, we also sold handmade beeswax candles and folded paper butterflies for charity, which were, unfortunately, not bought as much as we had initially hoped. In Tartu, we also organised a lottery sale with prizes presented to the winners on site but this sale was not very popular either. In addition to MTÜ Kakora, the lottery sale was also sponsored by the companies operating at the Tasku shopping centre and the grand prix was a valuable wine donated by a company called Veinikeskus.
MTÜ presnted Mari- Liis Täht who received a prize at the WBU essay competition a tactile book titled The Mouse the Tailor on a ceremony at the Tasku shopping centre in Tartu.
The event was organised by the Braille committee made up by MTÜ Jumalalaegas, the Estonian Association for the Blind, the Estonian Library for the Blind and MTÜ Kakora.
For the event, a special postage stamp with the “Braille 200” logo was printed, a special seal as well as special fridge magnets and mugs were made and a new web portal www.braille.ee was set up to feature materials related to the anniversary of the Braille script. This event was widely written and talked about in the media.
Officials from Dijon contacted MTÜ Kakora and asked for materials to compile a book titled The Typhlo & Tactus Guide to Children’s Books with Tactile Illustrations 2009, which was the most extensive international overview of tactile books compiled for blind children. The project was a collaboration between 19 countries: Australia, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Quebec, Romania, South Africa, Great Britain and the USA.
MTÜ Kakora’s website was completed later than initially planned but is now fully functional and has had 2404 visitors during its first year of existence.
The year was remarkable from the point of view of enhancing the accessibility of culture for the visually impaired since, as part of a corresponding project, we saw the completion of the audio description of the Estonian feature film Ruudi. The film, to which the audio description was made by a freelance Estonian actor called Mart Aas was screened from 21 May 2009 till 19 June 2009 on seven occasions and had a total of 150 viewers.
This first Estonian film accompanied by audio description was written about in local printed media and an interview on the subject was made by the KUKU radio, which is accessible on MTÜ Kakora’s website together with a segment of the movie featuring audio description. The feedback received has been so positive that we have written a project to add audio description to another two films in 2010.
Ruudi was listed on the digital video store of Elion’s digital television but, unfortunately, the digital television solution that has been created using exclusively visual information does not enable the film to be rented by the visually impaired without assistance.
Co-operation with the Art Museum of Estonian became significantly closer as well and in May a seminar/training course for museum guides on the accessibility of culture was organised at the museum’s premises after which several groups of visually impaired people were taken to the museum to enable the guides to practice their new skills. In the course of the project, KUMU received its first tactile plan/map. We have been discussing the changing of the texts presented on each floor of KUMU with the heads of the museum as well and are hopeful that soon the texts will be available in Braille script in Estonian, English and Russian.
We were glad that in October a company of blind Finnish actors agreed to play an improvisational piece on Louis Braille’s life in Estonia. A total of 4 shows were played on 14 and 15 October- once in Tartu, once in Viljandi and twice in Tallinn. The travel expenses and all related costs of the actors were paid by our Finnish partners, MTÜ Kakora was responsible for the organisational matters.
At the same time a walking event called “Tallinn Moves with a White Stick” was organised in Tallinn, starting from the Vabaduse Square and ending on the Town Hall Square. One of the plays on Braille’s life was played at the Estonian Health Care Museum, which also marked the end of the series of annual events dedicated to Louis Braille. At the Health Care Museum, the awarding of the participants of the “Kuuspunkti” essay competition took place and, in addition to other prizes, MTÜ Kakora presented each participant with a book on tactile art by Tactus that had already been supplied with Braille script and translated into Estonian. The event was filmed by and shown on Kanal2.
In 2009 we sent another two tactile books to the tactile book competition in France. The books, Snake Beads, made by the students from the Tallinn University and The Bruin at the Farm, made by the work group Beautiful Tactile Book did not, however, make it to the final round.
In 2009 we applied for MTÜ Kakora to be enlisted on the register of non-profit associations exempt from paying income tax and we have been listed in the register since 1 January 2010.
In 2010, another two films, namely Autumn Ball and Kinnunen, will be supplied with audio description for the visually impaired audience.
The play by Ugala theatre in Viljandi titled “Three Men in a Boat”, which was, on the initiative of MTÜ Kakora, supplied with audio description for the visually impaired was visited by 90 visually impaired viewers.
Co-operation partners and sponsors: the Gambling Tax Council, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Tallinn Activity Centre for the Disabled, the Tallinn University, the Tartu Toy Museum, Lustjala Playground in Kuressaare, the Tallinn Social Welfare and Health Services Board were priceless, the North Estonian and South Estonian Association for the Blind, the Estonian Library for the Blind, the Central Library of Lääne County, the Tallinn Helen’s School, ETV’s programme “Puutepunkt”, the Hiiu County Government, the Tartu Emajõe School, the Y gallery in Tartu, the Pärnu Association for the Blind, EPR, the international department of the Finnish NKL (“Näkömmavaisten Keskusliitto RY”), Näkövammaisten Kulttuuripalvelu RY, OK-opintokeskus, the Celia Library for the Visually Impaired, the Art Museum of Estonia.
We also enhanced our co-operational ties with the Estonian Association for the Blind, MTÜ Jumalalaegas, organisations for the blind in Western Estonia, Viljandi and Kuressaare and the Estonian Support Union for Parents of Blind Children.
MTÜ has offered the members of the association the chance to visit art exhibitions and enjoy films and plays supplied with audio description.
In 2009, MTÜ Kakora started a small-scale charitable sale of goods at its events to increase its funds. A small lottery sale was organised and beeswax candles and folded paper butterflies sold. The funds received are used for covering some of the transportation costs of the travelling exhibitions.
On 2 March 2010 we talked with Juhan Aare, the head of IN-TV on the possibility of making the films supplied with audio description available for renting electronically from IN-TV in the future. The talks proceeded very positively and promisingly.
We made an offer of collaboration to the Estonian Film Foundation proposing for the Estonian feature films that are being restored to be supplied with audio description as well but we are still waiting for the Foundation’s reply.