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LIFE Program Presents Findings of the Public Opinion Poll about Persons with Disabilities and Their Employment

More than one billion people live in the world with different types of disabilities, and 200 million people face significant difficulties associated with disabilities during different types of actions. Generally, people with disabilities have a relatively low participation in the fields of healthcare, education and economy, and are distinguished by a higher poverty rate. This is partly due to the fact that people with disabilities face a variety of obstacles when trying to access healthcare, education, employment and transportation services. Negative attitude, lack of services or limited access to services, lack of information and communication, discriminatory treatment, and lack of participation of people with disabilities in relevant issues can serve as hindering factors in this regard.

 

In Armenia the majority of people with disabilities (the registered number as of 2011 is 179.257) continue to face the public’s false perception of disability. The Soviet-era approach to the problems of people with disabilities was based on the “medical model”, which aims to explain the inattention to PWD’s problems, which is why the public was unaware of the problems of people with disabilities and their solutions .The “medical model” is still in effect in Armenia: “In the framework of the current model, disability is considered as a consequence of a disease linked up with limitation of a particular activity. As a result, when defining the disability group (hence, the volume of social assistance to be provided to PWD), individual factors such as the person’s professional capacity, age, work experience and capacity to acquire a new profession, etc., are not taken into account. Within the framework of the existing system, environmental factors are not taken into account as well. The above-mentioned circumstances do not give an opportunity to fully discover individual needs of people with disabilities”.

 

 

The main source of income for people with disabilities is a pension that is at this moment (2012, September) 100-140% of the main pension, which is 13000-18200 AMD, depending on the disability group. As sited on the website “Realize your labor rights”, “they have limited information about their rights and carry out a limited life, being rejected by a society, and even in the case of having a job, are subjected to discrimination in the workplace”.

 

In order to overcome the problems faced by persons with disabilities, “Save the Children”, with the support of the “Aktiva” international  foundation, “Unison” NGO, HDP Foundation, and “Full Life” NGO, in a close collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, “State Employment service” Agency, Employment Centers, PWD organizations, as well as with people with disabilities, NGOs, local and regional authorities, service providers, municipalities, vocational educational institutions and employers, and with the financial support of USAID, implemented “Improving the Quality of Life of People with Disabilities through the Promotion of Employment” (LIFE) program in 2012-2014.

 

The program is aimed at increasing the capacity of public servants, developing skills, strengthening public policies, systems, mechanisms and laws related to the employment of PWDs. The LIFE program also aims to develop the capacities of PWD organizations and service providers using the community model of rehabilitation and employment. The program will contribute to the adoption of a “social model”, which considers disability to be a person’s functional status and interaction of his/her rights with physical, cultural, and political environments.

On November 6, Save the Children presented the “Report on Public Opinion Poll about Persons with Disabilities and Their Employment” which was conducted within the framework of the USAID-funded Livelihood Improvement through Fostered Employment for People with Disabilities (LIFE) Program. Jemma Baghdasaryan, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Issues, Stephen Brager, Head of the USAID/Armenia Democracy, Social and Health Office, Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children Country Director and Jina Sargizova, LIFE Program Director delivered welcome remarks at the event, followed by a presentation of the main findings of the research.

 

The study, carried out by the Civic Development and Partnership Foundation, examined public opinion and attitude toward people with disabilities (PWDs), particularly in relation to PWD employment.  The survey revealed lack of or limited public awareness on PWDs, types of disabilities, common challenges faced by PWDs during and after the hiring process and their needs in a work environment.

 

To sum up, the following conclusions can be stated:

1. There is lack of awareness among the public on PWDs, disability typology, as well as limited awareness on problems and obstacles that people with disabilities meet, the support they need and difficulties they face during the hiring process and at the workplace.

2. There is a “positive” attitude towards PWDs and willingness to help, though there is also an opinion that the general public attitude is mostly “negative”.

3. There is a “negative” public attitude towards PWD employment and involvement in the labor market. At the same time, people are willing to work together with PWDs at the same workplace. They mostly believe that PWDs should have some privileges at the workplace.

4. According to public opinion, both a “positive” and “negative” attitude toward PWDs exists in the workplace. However, most of the public is unaware on the attitude toward PWDs at the workplace.

5. The public believes that employers refuse to hire PWDs because of PWD limited abilities, though employers state that they are willing to hire PWDs. However, employers are not aware about the state programs supporting PWD employment and need more information.

 

 

The study highlighted the urgent need for large-scale awareness raising on PWD typology and related terms. In the context of the topic of this research, there is a pressing need to provide educational activities on PWD working abilities and employment opportunities among both the public and especially among employers. Awareness raising and educational activities would also contribute to the formation of public opinion so that apart from stereotypes about PWDs as “sick people” or those with “limited abilities”, the phenomena of pitying, compassion, admiration will be addressed, and finally, the public will consider a person with a disability as an equal society member in his or her own right.

 

 

The study’s complete findings are available:   http://life-disability.am/Docs/Public%20Opinion%20Survey%20Report%20Eng.pdf

 

 

 Source: http://www.life-disability.am/

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