Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name The Disabled People – Independence, Family, Rehabilitation, Education, Work – an Integrated System
Project number A0458

Project description

The key objective of the Partnership initiated by the Foundation for the Assistance to the Disabled and several other non-government organisations and labour market institutions is to establish a system that would assist persons with disabilities in entering the open labour market.

Those with certified severe or moderate disabilities but with normal intellectual capabilities face huge problems in everyday life. Exclusion from public life starts at school. Integration establishments and integrative education systems are hardly available. The disabled are commonly assigned individual learning path or directed to special vocational schools without considering their actual predispositions or labour market needs. Available higher school statistics indicate that academic studies are almost inaccessible to the disabled. Previous public campaigns focused on establishing an environment that is friendly to the disabled so that they are able to get out of their homes. Nevertheless, removing architectural barriers does not provide the disabled with
unrestrained access to education and open labour market.

According to available statistics, as much as 84% of the disabled rely on welfare benefits, while only 8% of them are employed and the rate of employment is continuing to shrink. The reasons behind problems with finding a job on the open labour market include inadequate skills and poor education, adversely affecting their labour market competitiveness, as a result of abovementioned inequalities in the access to education. Other barriers are associated with potential employers' concerns for supplementary employment costs and sick leaves of disabled workers.

Project beneficiaries are both unemployed people and their family members. Project activities are indirectly targeted at small non-government organisation and mutual assistance groups. Thanks to concerted efforts, their initiatives aimed at promotion of social and occupational integration of the disabled will be more visible. Potential employers also will benefit from the Project.

The Project will develop and on-the-site test new approaches to reaching the disabled who live in isolation and have not received any assistance before. Integrative sessions will be designed for such persons to help them to quit passive attitudes and bring back the hope for a pro-active and independent life.

Integration is to be achieved using the method of four steps. "Step One - Getting out of Home" will involve the creation of an environmental system of support, learning and free access to on-line information. Under "Step Two - I'm not Alone", Internet-based group of support to the disabled and their family members will be established. "Step Three - I'm in the Group" will enable the beneficiaries to participate in support groups and hands-on workshops so that their social skills are improved. This is expected to enhance their will to learn, work and develop individual interests. "Step Four - I'm developing myself" - is a module wherein psychologists using special tools prepared for the Partnership are to develop a path of education for each direct beneficiary of the Project.

The Partnership is developing an Internet portal "About Ourselves", which is to provide comprehensive information about the rehabilitation process and advice on job career options for people with specific disabilities. The portal will be open to non-government organisations and the beneficiaries themselves. Occupational integration workshops combined with a programme of occupational integration and social communication (delivered as classroom sessions or on an e-learning basis) will help to better prepare the beneficiaries for the job.

Educational broker - a newly created profession - will help to promote education of the disabled. The purpose of an educational broker is to investigate professionally client's predispositions and work out with him/her a personal reasonable learning programme, taking into account the level of disability and intellectual background. This is the only way to ensure equal educational opportunities for persons with disabilities. The Partnership will provide descriptions of methods and tools used by educational brokers, as well as the required performance standards.

Pilot project will be delivered in three Warsaw districts: Wola, Bemowo and Wawer. Potential employers will be surveyed for disabled employment conditions under a module of investigation on open labour market opportunities for people with disabilities. The surveys - intended to diagnose fears and prejudices - will serve as a basis for development of activities that will contribute to the opening of labour market to the disabled. Business owners are expected to recognise occupational potential of the disabled and will be provided with information about available formal, legal and financial facilities that make hiring of the disabled free of any incremental costs of labour.

Partnership activities are intended to bring about a social atmosphere that will allow for improving the living quality of disabled persons on a step-by-step basis.