Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Visually impaired people and other disabilities are now more accepted

Sonal, 28, was just a step away from getting her dream job, when her employer refused to hire her after learning about her disability. Impressed by Sonal’s resume, who is a computer graduate, a private firm called her up for an interview, but after she revealed that she has been suffering from cerebral palsy, the firm hung up on her.

Like Sonal, many people with disabilities are left out of the main -stream employment sector. If one goes by the figures in the World Bank report titled “People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes”, which was released in November this year, the track record of hiring people with disabilities (PwDs) by Indian companies has worsened.

The findings of the report suggest that PwDs are among the most excluded sections in society. The employment rate among disabled adults reduced from 43 per cent in 1991 to 38 per cent in 2002.

“Employers fear absenteeism and loss of productivity if they hire specially-abled people. But on the contrary, these employees are among the most loyal and are cent per cent dedicated to their work,” said Geetika Tiwari, a volunteer with the National Job Development Centre, during a discussion at the Oxford Book Store on Monday on the World Disability Day.

“Among the visually impaired, orthopaedic impaired and persons suffering from cerebral palsy, the orthopaedic impaired will get preference followed by visually challenged and cerebral palsy. There is no provision for persons with multiple disabilities,” said Uday Warunjikar, advocate, Bombay High Court.

Sonal, who is now interning with an online recruitment site, sorts out resumes of disabled people who want to be part of the mainstream business and laments that they should be considered on par with others.

“There are 600 workshops across the state to train specially-abled people in vocational activities, but if they are incorporated in the mainstream businesses it will work wonders for them,” said Vandana Garware, director state coordinator, National Job Development Centre.

However, Malini Chib, a senior executive event manager at Oxford Book Store, has become an example for others like her. Chib, suffering from cerebral palsy, says, “I was nervous like any other candidate during my interview. It’s been a month since I am working here, and I am still learning. The key to success is to change the attitudes of the people.”


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