The Threshold Association (or Kynnys ry in Finnish) is a cross-disability organization, which focuses on the basic and human rights of persons with disabilities. It was founded in Helsinki by Kalle Könkkölä and other students with disabilities in 1973. Nowadays the Threshold has offices in Helsinki, Kuopio, Oulu Tampere and Turku. In addition to this, the association has groups in Kymenlaakso, Mikkeli, Pori, Rovaniemi, Jyväskylä and Joensuu.
Our work is based on the ideology of the independent living movement: Persons with different types of disabilities run the organization from decision-making to activities. The Threshold Association works to guarantee the equal rights of persons with disabilities in Finnish society and on international level, supports and activates persons with disabilities to advocate for their own rights, influences officials and other authorities to consider the needs of people with disabilities when making decisions and acts as an expert on disability issues.
The Threshold Association is also a part of the international Independent living movement, and collaborates with Disabled Peoples’ International and ENIL, among others. Also, development cooperation activities are a key part of our work. Currently we support associations run by disabled people and have active projects in Ethiopia, Central Asia and Balkan areas.
Besides our international work, one important part of our daily work is legal help and guidance, since we are a human rights organization. This is important to note, since most of the other disability organizations in Finland work from the basis of diagnosis.
Making disability culture visible and accessible is important to us. Culture is one of the most effective ways to make disability issues known to the general public and also to show disability in a positive light. We organize many cultural events in collaboration with artists, organizations and art institutions and offer art courses to our members.
We are regularly seen and heard in media, send bulletins, give statements, offer training and act as an expert on a variety of disability issues for example in the areas of personal assistance, sexual- and reproductive rights and accessibility.
Since our field of expertise covers everything concerning human rights and disability, work as a communications officer of Kynnys is very varied and interesting. There isn’t one kind of a regular workday. Obviously I take care of our magazine, bulletins, social media and marketing of the events. In addition to all of this, I get to bring my own point of view to our organization’s work.
We are all a part of the same movement. All of us also have a personal and unique experience of disability. In my opinion that’s what really makes Kynnys such an important organization both in Finland and on an international level.
*Photo from the Kynnys ry office in Helsinki, was taken last year when ENIL’s representatives (Nadia Hadad and Kamil Goungor) were kindly invited by Kynnys ry colleagues for a nice discussion.