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For the last six years the Bildungshaus des Landes Steiermark became a pioneer in the field of barrier-free and inclusive adult education in Austria. Inclusive and barrier-free adult education is perceived as a cross-section task at the Retzhof for the conception of all educational measures. Furthermore, the Retzhof sees itself as the Austrian showcase project, pedagogical laboratory, and think tank in the field of inclusive and barrier-free adult (further) education.
The Retzhof follows the guiding principle of a humanistic idea of man with emancipatory, inclusive, barrier-free, international, and ecologic orientation. The educational work is shaped by party political independence, as well as socio-political, cultural, ethical, and confessional tolerance. The work is lead by the idea of enlightment. Furthermore, the work of the Retzhof seeks to enable people to emancipate themselves from involuntary dependencies of all kinds and to participate in social life.
Through the complete renovation of the building, the facility was made completely handicap-accessible and the seminar rooms were specially designed to fit the needs of the courses. The seminar rooms are acoustically optimized and equipped with special acoustic elements. In the guest rooms visual fire detectors are installed for deaf participants. Doors in the guest house are opening (half-) automatically. The guidance system for blind participants is installed as well. Through these measures a full accessibility is guaranteed for handicapped people of all kinds.
In the course smartboards, tablets and special video equipment is used to meet the visual needs of the deaf. Our courses can be booked as webinars as well, so people who aren’t mobile or living in Vienna can attend the courses. In the courses it is central to use target-group-oriented methods, and to take up the experiences and aims of the participants. The course size is kept intentionally small – between 10 and 14 participants. But there are also other courses in which the maximal number of participants ranges between 8 and 10, which depends on the needs of the target groups. A well moderated exchange of experiences is essential in all courses.
The didactical methods vary among the different courses, but they all share their participant focus. An emphasis is on the consideration of former experiences and living conditions. The courses relate to these. Another focus is the practice orientation, which helps participants to join the course and to adapt the content. Besides the participant-orientation, the focus lies on exemplary learning and the development of competencies. The Retzhof works according to the educational theory and practice of Oskar Negt. This approach is based on the idea that participants already have competences which can be used in the course. Through individual support the participants are enabled to work independently. Also through group works a peer-approach is created with increases the exchange of ideas and competences among participants. Most courses are general and personality-building. Therefore the motivation of the participants comes from within. Especially in these kind of courses it is essential to address mind, feelings and senses at the same time.