People with disabilities represent a significant group in our society and a big potential not fully realized. As reminded by H.E. Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent representative of Austria to the UN in Geneva, there are all types of barriers hindering the full enjoyment of a normal life, may them be physical, economical, social, or obstacles to health services, access to education, employment full time. The reasons of this marginalization may be different, from the weak voice people with disabilities have in the political process, to the lack of comparable data on labor market participation that limits the interventions. On the bright side, polices of inclusiveness are developing, Austria and other countries have laws binding companies to employ one person with disability every 25 employees. Most of the time though the companies prefer to pay the sanction instead of complying with the quota.
The testimony of Fernanda Almeida, President of the National Federation of Persons with Autism from Brazil and member of RIADIS, stressed the difficulty for employers to see beyond the appearances. For her, as for Matthieu Chatelin, Cerebral Palsy European Community’s Association and Youth leader of the European Disability Forum, a good CV is not sufficient. There are numerous barriers to overcome, from the initial demonstration that they are capable of doing their job to the adjustment in terms of space. Some employers do not consider how easy it can be to overcome structural barriers because they just focus on what they cannot do.
Education is highlighted by all the panelist as the most important tool to overcome the difficulties, as instrument that can guarantee a future within the society. It is a responsibility of the States to assure accessibility to education, training and employment, but usually it is not guaranteed. The isolated condition in which the State leaves people with disabilities, may it be a direct or indirect result, is an alarm for the civil society organizations that work hard to give fair chances to people with disabilities.
Ms. Virginia Carcedo Illera, CEO and General manager of Incerta empleo, showed the effort and work realized by Incerta during the years of its existence. Working for university and employment accessibility and inserting over 200 thousand people with disabilities in its database. With a system based on ICF skill oriented approach, they connect people to the companies, focusing on the capabilities and compatibility with the firm.
On the same issue, Zero Project, as an international initiative founded by the Austrian ESSL foundation, monitors the application of the CRPD and identifies effective solutions and promotes knowledge exchange. The data resulted from the 2017 research showed, as already presented by the other panelists, that the laws existing are not in use and often there is no data on the condition of labor and education accessibility of people with disabilities. These deficiencies of the States show the marginal role given to the issue and the lack of interest in changing the existing situation.
In conclusion, the panelists stressed the importance of a fair and equal access to education, apprenticeship and employment. To be treated as equally capable of doing a job and equally in need of living the world and relating with people is the most important thing the civil society and the companies, the governments and the employer could do. The relegation doesn’t help neither the person with disabilities nor the State, because it would miss the potentialities of its own citizens.