Last week was quite hectic and exciting for me. In the Dutch media it was announced that a law is being drafted that allows employers to hire people with a handicap or a disability for less than the legally required minimum wage.
Although it is certainly praiseworthy to strive to employ more people with disabilities, the drafting of this law is not good.
On the one hand, because this law could send a signal to “normal” colleagues that they may have taken away their work from colleagues with impaired working conditions or handicap who might work cheaper, which would make a conflict in the workplace quite possible.
Secondly, this law sends the wrong signal that employees with disabilities or impairments are less valuable. In this society, a lot of value is placed on participation in the labour market and unfortunately people who cannot work or “only” work voluntarily and without payment, are wrongly classified as less valuable. This law would underline this social rift.
Now I am absolutely no activist and this is not about personal awareness, on the contrary, but such a law would hit the core of society and especially the people who often have to struggle with their impairment or handicap every day anyway. They deserve at least a valuable share in society.
That is why I wrote an open letter to the MP in the Dutch Parliament, of the party that proposed this bill. I also published this letter in the social media. Many have copied this letter and sent it under their own name.
Meanwhile there is also a good initiative to collect signatures against this bill.
Also this week, I had to cancel a workshop “All around the ear and hearing” here in Switzerland, because unfortunately there were not enough interested people. Of course a little disappointing, but it has made me realize how little this topic lives in our society, although the consequences of impairment, such as hearing impairment, are often very serious.
It can not only influence the social life of those affected, but those affected also have a hard time finding and retaining work worldwide.
With my goal of making people more aware of the challenges of everyday life with hearing impairment, I still have a long way to go and I hope many will accompany me on this path. Please forward this blog to others, talk or write openly about your (hearing) impairment.
As a well-known proverb says: “Unknown makes unpopular”. However, more information leads to more awareness and more awareness leads to more acceptance.
Will you join me?