It is a well-known fact that people with disabilities struggle to find and keep employment in third-world companies, which means that the unemployment rate for this demographic is exceptionally high. This is one of the issues being addressed by the UK disabilities charity Handicap International.
This non-profit organization has found a way to reduce the stigmas of disabilities and increase employment opportunities by designing software that they call a global toolbox. It covers comprehensive adaptations in the workplace which can be used in developing countries. The organization’s inclusive livelihood’s policy officer has proposed creating a type of toolbox, which comprises tools, workspaces and work methods which are accessible for those with disabilities.
The understanding team at Handicap International realize that it often only takes some small, simple adjustments and adaptations for a worker with a physical impairment to succeed at the job. Their goal is to make sure that all employers have the tools they require to make places such as factories, offices, bakeries, etc, accessible for all of their staff.
Handicap International already uses successful advocacy methods which persuade potential employers that hiring people with disabilities is beneficial for everyone in the community and is of particular importance in the low- to middle-income band. But businesses frequently need support in adapting the working environment to ensure it suits all employees and that they can all give their best. This is where the new global toolbox comes into its own. The toolbox can be accessed as a phone or web-based application, and the user is given a wide variety of opportunities for employment or training which are tailored especially for developing countries.
The user selects the appropriate work or training option and is taken to the next page: details of type of disability (all are included here). The application then returns a custom-made section which gives instructions on how to adjust work methods, tools and business environment based on the type of impairment and the job recorded. Then the user can combine these suggestions with local resources to create work-based adaptations which are relevant to their context. Additionally, when end-users identify new solutions for reasonable adjustments, they are able to upload them to the app, which means that even more people will benefit from it afterward.
This scheme is being launched in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Nepal, and in the future the charity hopes to introduce it to many other low to middle-income economies. An example of the type of support offered is demonstrated by a project in Afghanistan, where charity workers are creating low-cost prosthetic arms with farming tools attached so that farmers can continue to work simply by swapping their prosthetics. It is unique in being the first wide-ranging, comprehensive resource which goes beyond “changing hearts and minds” of potential employers, and gives practical solutions to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.
Picture courtesy of www.handicap-international.org.uk