In 1997 to the front came the question: why persons with disabilities shouldn’t have their own congress? Many people thought that people with intellectual disabilities wouldn’t have the necessary understanding to participate in such an event. Some even suggested that they might make a mess in the convention center or that it would be too dangerous for them to visit a big city! Nevertheless, the first congress was held in 1998 in Berlin with 500 participants from all over Europe and it was a big success. As a result of participants’ desire to meet again, every three years another congress took place in Europe. Since 2009 this impulse has spread throughout the world, mostly to so called developing countries. Even the First World Congress took place in 2017 in Russia.

The congresses are special events for persons who are regarded as being disabled. By attending them, they have the opportunity to travel and meet others in similar situations, often from different countries, to share experiences and simply make friends. Except for their disabilities, these persons also possess a wide range of abilities. They are skilled and creative human beings who can empower society to become more generous. How can we help them to develop their potentials and where else can they present them in an outstanding setting? Worldwide congresses are exemplary when it comes to transforming disabilities into abilities. The result can be compared to a work of art, which is not presented in a museum, but recognized within the human soul. From this perspective, congresses are events for social artists!

Worldwide Congresses for Persons with Disabilities

Since 1998 after the first congress happened in Berlin I initiated and organized six more European Congresses “Living in the Encounter” in Switzerland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Serbia. Up to 700 participants attended each of these events. In 2009 I continued to spread this concept in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Serbia, Georgia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Russia, Thailand and India. After more than 20 years, these congresses have become a worldwide movement. I am always looking for further enthusiastic and creative people who will join in and start a similar congress in their country.

Basic principles

  • This initiative is based on the good will of individuals who want to empower persons with disabilities and create an environment where they can experience their dignity and express their willingness to become full partners in society like everybody else.
  • Cooperation in a worldwide movement is more effective than competition. If you are interested to start a congress and join this worldwide network, I kindly ask you to send me a proposal by emailing to
  • If your proposal is ready to be realized also with regard to legal and fundraising questions, we will start a partnership. Together we will create an unforgettable event with a positive impact on all people involved. I would be more than happy to support you!
  • All socialartist events are organized as free initiatives, not based on an organization or connected funds but on enthusiasm. For further development of this movement, donations and sponsors are very much needed. If you are inspired and want to become a supporter, please contact me by emailing to
  • Last but not least the congress concept, the layout, articles, photographs, videos and other material on this website are protected by copyright, all rights reserved.


German Federal Ministries of the Interior and Justice and its Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance

Serbian Congress Ambassador


Thomas Kraus (Berlin)


Initiates congresses for persons with disabilities since 1998

Nataša Kraus (Berlin)