The exercise was part of a four-hour training session called SENSE, which uses a mock supermarket recreated at BMV by the international chain REWE to give nursing students a first hand experience on what it’s like for people with disabilities to shop at inaccessible stores.
SENSE is the brainchild of Patrick Dohmen, the founder and chairman of the European Competence Centre for Accessibility (EUKOBA e.V.) The 52-year-old business professional founded EUKOBA after facing barriers himself as he brought his stepson, Dean Curtis, who has cerebral palsy, to places without wheelchair accessibility, such as schools, playgrounds and restaurants, to name a few.
But Dohmen didn’t just want to complain.
“I wanted to do something,” he says. Which is why EUKOBA works to alter mindsets about accessibility and get people to focus on small changes they can make to include everyone, no matter what health conditions or disabilities they may have.. Apart from SENSE, the non-profit offers an accessibility monitoring system for buildings and a seal that classifies them as barrier-free.
Accessibility, Dohmen asserts, is important not only for people with disabilities, but for a wide swathe of able-bodied people, including children, the pregnant, the elderly, and more. And in a rapidly aging country like Germany, where one in five citizens is over the age of 65 and almost 10% of the population reporting as disabled, it’s even more critical.