Klaus-Dieter Seiffert - "I am an inclusion activist!"

Klaus-Dieter Seiffert

Klaus-Dieter Seiffert explains convincingly: „I am an inclusion activist!“ He puts a lot of content and topics into this word, especially for people with a hearing impairment. Therefore, it is not surprising that the passionate disability rights activist received an honorary award from the city of Gelsenkirchen in December 2021. He is very pleased about this award, but reacts modestly: „For me, it is a matter of course that I help. We are the experts in our own cause!“

The award winner is „a shining example of ‚inclusive‘ commitment in Gelsenkirchen“, according to the laudation. „In an exemplary manner, he has been committed to help deaf and hearing-impaired people for years, for whom an important communication channel was closed due to the mask requirement during the coronavirus pandemic: lip-reading.“ He reacted quickly and arranged Covid tests by phone, for example, or ordered cabs to medical appointments for people in need. He organized an extensive group vaccination appointment – exclusively for people with hearing impairments.

The fact that Klaus-Dieter Seiffert can talk on the phone is not a matter of course. Born in 1961, he has been profoundly deaf since the age of seven and was initially dependent on two hearing aids. „From one day to the other I went completely deaf in 1999 and could no longer hear anything. That was a mental crash for me,“ he admits openly. „I felt completely cut off from the outside world and I was not able to understand people – I could not even hear my then eight-month-old daughter scream.“

As his auditory nerve and cochlea were intact, he was fitted with a cochlear implant in Hanover, a hearing prosthesis for the deaf and hard of hearing. „I had to learn to hear again,“ he remembers. Many sounds were suddenly extremely loud. „But since then I can hear much better and can take part in communication. It was so nice to be able to talk to my family and friends on the phone.“

Klaus-Dieter Seiffert has been a volunteer ever since. He fights for accessibility in his city. However, his visual impairment and limited mobility – due to various illnesses, he is dependent on a walker or wheelchair depending on the day – hardly stand in his way. He knows what people with disabilities have to live with and the problems they face. He initially worked as an expert citizen in the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association (LWL) and is now a full member of the Regional Assembly for the Alliance Greens. There he can use an inductive hearing system, which he considers to be „wonderful technology“.

As a founding member of „Inclusion for Future“, he takes to the streets to push for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the goal of inclusion. In September 2021, there was a demonstration together with Fridays for Future. In his speech, he emphasized that he is standing here as someone who is affected himself: „We have no desire to wait any longer until we are finally included. Until barrier-free participation in events is finally possible.“ Accessibility benefits everyone.

In addition to his role as cashier, he is also the inclusion officer for the „Anno 1904“ association. He was allowed to use the club rooms to provide help to those seeking assistance in an information and advice centre for deaf and hearing people that he initiated. This advice centre has since moved to Kurt-Schumacher-Straße 121 on the Schalker Meile, the former tobacco and magazine store of Ernst Kuzorra and Stan Libuda. The rent is paid by the „Schalke hilft!“ foundation. He is available here between 2 and 5 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays.

He also founded the self-help group for hearing impaired and deaf people in Gelsenkirchen (SHG). Klaus-Peter Seiffert has been an elected representative of the working group of disabled people’s associations in Gelsenkirchen on the advisory board for people with disabilities in Gelsenkirchen and in the AGB (working group of disabled people’s associations and self-help groups in Gelsenkirchen) since 2014. He is also active in the „Schalke for all“ working group, which strives for accessibility in the arena. For example, wheelchair users can now use a shuttle for the last section to the stadium, as the bus stop at the soccer arena is not barrier-free.

Other commitments of the active volunteer: member of the FAK GB (Facharbeitskreis Geistige Behinderung) in Gelsenkirchen, member of the AG Inklusion at Bündnis90/Die Grünen Gelsenkirchen and member of the project of the Ehrenamtsagentur Gelsenkirchen „Ehrenamt, stark für ALLE“. Two years ago, he founded the „Stammtisch Inklusion“. This is currently cancelled due to Corona, but it is to be reactivated soon: every third Friday of the month from 5 p.m., the location has not yet been determined. The deaf café in the Alfred-Zingler-Haus (Margaretenhof 10-12, 45888 Gelsenkirchen) opens every third Saturday of the month from 3 pm.

For him, receiving the city’s 2021 Volunteer Award is „a sign to the outside world: people with a disability belong in the middle of society – we allow different people to participate. That is a symbol of respect!“

Klaus-Dieter Seiffert is available for information by phone on 01522 5856871 (also SMS and WhatsApp). His e-mail address: seiffert61@gmx.de