Ohrenkuss front cover

Ohrenkuss by people with Down syndrome

Ohrenkuss is a magazine written by people with Down syndrome. Published in Bonn, Germany, twice a year, Ohrenkuss features writers, photographers and artists who have Down syndrome.

Ohrenkuss means ear kiss in German. A simple kiss to the ear brought the title of the magazine to life.

“In one ear, out the other – what stays in your head – that is Ohrenkuss,” editor in chief Katja de Braganca said.

Each issue of Ohrenkuss covers a different topic. Previous magazines included writers’ views on friendship, love and dreams.

All of them are wrapped up in an untraditional European-sized (a little bit longer and narrower than regular print paper in North America) landscape format filled with colorful art and creative writing.

Ohrenkuss started as part of a research project at Bonn University in 1998. At that time Katja was a genetic researcher who studied Down syndrome.

It was believed, Katja said, that people with Down syndrome would never be able to read or write. Through her research, she proved that people with Down syndrome have their own way of communicating the written word.

“…we noticed that the writers with Down syndrome had a special way of writing,” Katja said. “With a talent for abstract thinking they invent new words, use creative methods for constructing sentences and can connect subjects in special ways.”

The published text written by the authors is never corrected for spelling, grammar or sentence structure.

“Reading their texts is exciting and never boring,” Katja said. “[It is] often witty and also impressive due to their use of concise forms. Like a poem. Perhaps similar to a Japanese haiku.”

Ohrenkuss stories are written mostly in German. But over the years, the magazine has accepted stories written in English from people in the United States and Australia. Stories have also come from Sweden and Serbia.

They always appear in their original language.

Ohrenkuss continues to hire writers who have submitted stories for several years.

“I work in 8 years doing Ohrenkuss and having fun,” Dorothee Reumann from Hamburg, Germany, said. “We are good working and why Ohrenkuss issues get new issues and get write in new texts and are very happy.”

“For the fun, nothing gets boring, is interesting also music, also private topic, also for art, for feelings, heart, also others, also something for fashion,” Lars Breidenbach of Ruhr, Germany said.

“Why we keep on writing is because we come up with so many ideas,” Verena Elizabeth of Turin, Italy, said. “Because it makes us so happy. What we can write down. When topics and questions are easy. And because the readers of the Ohrenkuss issues think they are very nice. And that we have take interesting new topics for them.”

After only two years of being, Ohrenkuss was ready to come to an end. Katja’s research was complete, others persuaded her to keep the magazine going.

Katja says that she would like to see the magazine, now 15 years in the making, to appear worldwide, printed and as an app.

“Then all people with trisomy 21 from all countries and in all languages can then write with us!”

You can find more about Ohrenkuss by going to their website at ohrenkuss.de.

Interested in writing for Ohrenkuss? Send an email to Dr. Katja de Braganca, braganca@downtown-werkstatt.de

Apostrophe submitted questions to Ohrenkuss, which they responded to in German. Their questions were translated by Howard Smith, Julie Burk and Paul Roberts.

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