The third of December saw the topic of disabilities pushed to the very top of the global agenda.
Around one billion people have some form of disability. Although equality and the absence of barriers should be universal standards, these goals have yet to be achieved. Each year, on 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated as a way to raise awareness of the situations faced by those affected. Information events, panel discussions and exhibitions help to clarify issues and turn the spotlight on how persons with disabilities are currently treated. For example, the huge potential they offer the labour market is often overlooked.
Day of reflection and action
The first International Day of Persons with Disabilities was held in 1993. The United Nations had instigated the event in October of the previous year, as the culmination and continuation of the Decade of Disabled Persons, which ran from 1983 to 1993. The aim is to ensure that disability is accorded the attention that it deserves. On this day, all around the world, attention is focused on crucial issues such as how the rights of persons with disabilities are respected nationally and whether barriers really are being broken down.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”. This relates to the ambitious 17-point UN programme that has been conceived with the aim of making the idea of a better world a reality. One key requirement of this programme relates to tackling discrimination in all its forms. And there is good reason to celebrate in 2016 – the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” has been in force for ten years. Now is the right time to reflect on what has been achieved so far. It took five years to draw up the ground-breaking document, which has been ratified by 167 countries.
The facts speak for themselves. Persons with disabilities often have excellent qualifications – and yet are very easily overlooked on the labour market. For example, a higher proportion of unemployed people with severe disabilities are specialists in their field than is the case among able-bodied unemployed. A lot of potential is going untapped. If this potential were to be harnessed, companies would not just gain access to highly motivated and qualified workers, they would also make real progress in tackling the shortage of skilled workers.
A barrier-free work bench has proven ideal as a means of integrating employees with disabilities into industrial production. A work bench like this can be adapted to suit the physical characteristics of employees and also takes into account a whole range of additional factors. One important consideration is the handling area, which is significantly smaller for wheelchair users and people who have difficulties walking or standing. What’s more, there are government integration bodies and numerous state funds that offer companies advice, practical support and even financial aid.
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