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Round table “Labour overcomes barriers”

28/03/2012

Vitebsk joint organization of NGO “Republican association of wheelchair-bound disabled” and the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities held round table “Labour overcomes barriers”. The event was held in the frames of the informational campaign “Accessibility” and was devoted to the problems of employment of persons with disabilities in Vitebsk oblast.

Representatives of state bodies of social protection, healthcare institutions, department of education, marketing center, business community, employers, NGOs of persons with disabilities, journalists were present at the event.

During the round table the head of Vitebsk joint organization of NGO “Republican association of wheelchair-bound disabled” Dmitriy Stemasov held the presentation of the research in the field of persons’ with disabilities employment in Vitebsk oblast. Talking about the results of the research he said: “In our country the right for labour is one of the main rights of every citizen. The participation of persons with disabilities in labour activity is very important. Labour helps a person to live a full life, to feel needed and eliminates social and psychological barriers between disabled and surrounding them people. Employment helps persons with disabilities to raise their social status and to improve their financial situation. It is very important for the integration of persons with disabilities into the society”.

“In spite of the measures taken by the state the problem of employment and job placement of persons with disabilities in the modern Belarusian society is very pressing, - Dmitriy Stemasov continued, - Persons with disabilities still are one of the most socially vulnerable groups of population in our country. The majority of persons with disabilities can’t realize their right for labour. According to the statistical data in 2011 there were 502,2 thousand disabled registered in the bodies of labour and social protection, it is more than 5% of the population. Every year the number of people who try to employ with the help of the bodies of labour and social protection is growing. There are more than 21 thousand of disabled of working age living in Vitebsk oblast. But according the research, more than 70% of them do not work. The same numbers are shown in the research held among the members of Vitebsk “Republican association of wheelchair-bound disabled”. More than 72% of wheelchair-bound disabled are not employed. Only one person has his own business”.

What is the reason? What kind of barriers prevent from solving the problem of employment?

“There are three main types of barriers, - says Dmitriy Stemasov, - Inaccessibility, limitation of the freedom of movement. Persons with disabilities don’t have necessary knowledge and experience. And only at the last place – physical limitations because of the state of health. The second barrier seems to depend only on the person himself – if you don’t have necessary knowledge you should start studying. But no, the accessibility of education is a huge problem. Yes, employment centers offer training and retraining courses in different specialties: lift operator, unskilled laborer, worker of the shoemaking industry and so on. But, the first problem is that a person has to go to Minsk to get such education and there he doesn’t have his family with him who helps him in everyday life. And the second problem is: why should they decide for us that we have to work as unskilled laborers and shoemakers? In the majority of cases the disability of a wheelchair-bound person is acquired. Such persons very often had already got education of economists, lawyers, teachers. But it is almost impossible for a wheelchair-bound person to employ in these specialties”.

“Yes, unfortunately in 2011 in Vitebsk oblast only 51 persons with disability were employed. 55 underwent training - deputy head of the department of employment of the Committee on labour and social protection of Vitebsk oblast executive committee Liudmila Zaitseva joined the discussion. – We also gave 523 subsidies for starting private business. Of course, if to take into account the amount of disabled in oblast these numbers are very small. But we do all we can to solve the problem of employment in our region. We understand that it is a very important step to self-realization and integration into the society”. – She said.

One very phenomenal opinion was said by the representative of the employment center of Pervomaiskiy district of Vitebsk: “Why don’t we create special working settlements and factories for persons with disabilities? For example at the place of former country children camp we could build workshops where city factories would do some simplest products like sewing loops or hooks or something like this. Persons with disabilities could live and work there. There will be barrier-free environment and all the necessary living conditions.”

The coordinator of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities Sergey Drozdovskiy also spoke at the meeting. In his speech he paid special attention to the topics of accessibility and fight against barriers during the inclusion of persons with disabilities into the society: “You don’t have to create something special for persons with disabilities like building special settlements and putting all disabled there, creating special conditions and special environment. We have to work with disabled in the places they live, work and study. Everyone should have the equal possibility to enter any house, shop, to study at any school. Without having someone to decide it for him. When the society refuses a person with disability in employment it loses all the potential every person has. If a person wants and can work a lot it is weird not to give him such a possibility”.

The discussion was not limited only by these speeches. City newspaper “Gostinnyi Dvor offered assistance and cooperation. The chief editor offered to publish at the pages of the newspaper vacancies for persons with disabilities and material that will help them to know more about their rights. Because after we had analyzed the appeals of citizens to the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities we understood that the majority of them have no information about their rights and where to go to protect their rights.

Summarizing the results of the round table “Labour overcomes barriers” the head of Vitebsk joint organization of NGO “Republican association of wheelchair-bound disabled” and the coordinator of the project “Labour overcomes barriers” Dmitriy Stemasov said: “Although the state and local bodies do all their best to solve the problem of employment of persons with disabilities this problem is still very topical. Of course, our main task, without which we can’t fully solve that problem, is the development of accessibility”.

We remind that the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities is holding informational campaign “Accessibility”. Its main goal is the elimination of all kinds of barriers for persons with disabilities – mental, architectural, economic and legal.

The slogan of the campaign “Accessibility” is: Every society is as strong as its members are.