Yesterday I was on an equality day organized by the foundation Agile. On this day (or rather afternoon) topic was the right to a workingplace for the disabled (I prefer to say impaired) fellow human beings. This day was well attended and the topic was “hot”.
Apart from a few minor blemishes, the T-status of my hearing aid did not work with the loop and I could not use the translator for the speech in French because I had to put it in my ears, where of course my hearing aids are, the day was very interesting. Luckily, I had brought my own FM system and that helped me to understand better and I also understand a little French and the speaker had some supporting powerpoint pictures.
The main topic was, of course,”What about the right to work for disabled people”. The answer was, in short, we are on the right track, but we are far from where we should be. And where we should be, of course, is a society where disabled people should have unhindered access to the labour market and jobs.
In my opinion, a nice striving, but a little idealistic. Sure, sometimes you just have to be a little bit idealistic to make a difference, but on that day I often heard beautiful words such as “sensitizing employers” and “stimulating measures”. Everything’s true! But in my experience as an employment consultant for hearing and speech impaired, it also happened very often that the first question of potential employers was “what does it cost me?” or “if something happens in the workplace, who pays for it?”.
Doesn‘t everything revolve around money in the end, even if you are of good will …? That was the question the panelists asked on the podium too. It had already been agreed that although this question was justified, there were many measures to cover the costs of hiring a disabled person. Not every disability is the same, of course.
I agree with both visions, but I wonder whether employers and disabled jobseekers and employees know enough about these measures. And I think the answer to that is no. There is a need for much and much more enlightenment!
Clearly, not every impairment/disability is the same: it takes different measures when you hire a wheelchair user or a hearing impaired person. But for both, the will must be there. And most employers, including those of goodwill, are often still afraid to hire or retain a handicapped/disabled employee because they think the costs will be too high and it will take up too much time. And as long as this image remains intact, there will unfortunately not be much change, ideals back and forth.
Nevertheless, such days are very good and useful because draw attention to this topic again. It was also very heartwarming to see how many wheelchair users and people with helpdogs were present.
That is why I would say: we need more of such days!