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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Yesterday was International Disabled People’s Day ...

Yes, it’s true – the 3rd December is remembered as International Disabled People’s Day. As a disabled person working in the disability field, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t write a line or two about this. Even if one day later. But, to my defence, I had to deliver a presentation to a conference to mark International Disabled People Day organised by the National Commission Persons with a Disability (KNPD) - which is also my employer.

This year’s theme adopted by KNPD is employment, or more precisely, our right to work expressed by our slogan The Right to Work - Our Right Too! (my translation)

The sad reality is that this right to work is still denied to many disabled people around the world. In Malta, the rate of employment amongst disabled people stood only at 14.6% within the disabled population (Census 2005). Indeed, despite any anti-discrimination legislation that exist locally (such as the Equal Opportunities Act / Cap 210) or any European directive (such as the EU Directive on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation), the facts reflect a worrying trend. But,, hopefully, now that we have the UN Convention Rights of Disabled People,, which includes Article 27 on work and employment, I hope to see more progress in this area as well as more countries ratify it.

Yet, the current reality remains that disabled people who want to access employment must face obstacles not only in terms of finding an accessible place of work, or in suitable assistive apparatus, but must deal with the complexity of a disabling society. Obstacles include lack of accessible transport, lack of personal support and with the past failures of an educational system which provided them with a poor level of education. But the barriers do not end there! A good number of employers are still reluctant to employ us because they think, for instance, that we will be less productive, take more sick leave or create problems to other employees.

Well, writing those negative assumptions down reminds me that Christmas is soon coming. I do like Christmas, mind you, but I really dislike those charity marathons that portray us as dependent, pathetic or sick. I guess that clears the mystery of where employers get some of their funny ideas about disabled people. After all, we are often depicted as dependent, pathetic and in need of charity. Who would think that we are fit to work under that light? I hope this year will be better but I’m not holding my breath.

I think that’s enough for today. I hope to be able to write some more in the coming days – especially on my impressions of this year’s charity events. But, for now, enjoy!