With respect to an individual, the term “disability” means
– a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.
– a record of such impairment
– being regarded as having such an impairment
Some disabilities are birth defects; some develop as people grow up or when they age and some results from an accident. No matter what impairment a person is living with, he or she is certainly a victim of discrimination. Handicapped people face unfair treatment in every aspect of life ranging from unemployment, to schooling and basic health care. Unfortunately, rates of disabilities are increasing, affecting vulnerable people in poor countries more than ever. Here are some facts that you might not know:
About 15% of the world population have some kind of disabilities, which means one out of 7 people around us could be disabled.
Disabled people are generally poorer due to extra medical care, assistive devices and personal support they require to function as a normal person, not to mention limited employment opportunities due to prejudice against them.
An estimated 386 million of the world’s working-age people are disabled, says the International Labour Organization (ILO). Unemployment among the disabled is as high as 80 per cent in some countries. Often employers assume that persons with disabilities are unable to work.
A U.S. survey of employers conducted in 2003 found that the cost of accommodations was only $500 or less; 73 per cent of employers reported that their employees did not require special facilities at all.
Companies report that employees with disabilities have better retention rates, reducing the high cost of turn- over, says a 2002 U.S. study. Other American surveys reveal that after one year of employment, the retention rate of persons with disabilities is 85 per cent.
Physically challenged people can make use of their senses better than an ordinary person to compensate for what they don’t have or lose.
Thousands of people with disabilities have been successful as small business owners, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The 1990 national census revealed that people with disabilities have a higher rate of self-employment and small business experience (12.2 per cent) than people without disabilities (7.8 per cent).
On reading this, one will wonder what the statistics in Vietnam are and where Vietnamese with impairments fit in in that world picture.
Vietnam is still in its infancy in promoting programs that benefit the disabled. Assistance extends as far as to people with physical challenges or limited cases of mental disabilities such as retardation. Schizophrenia or cerebral palsy or autism is a luxury.
It’s a saddening but true fact. If you suffer from one of the less commonly recognized as a disability in Vietnam, you are on your own. Some modern buildings and high end hotels or shopping malls do take the disabled into consideration with special toilets, ramps for wheel chairs or lower buttons in the elevators or even a separate lift. However, how many disabled people can actually afford fancy amenities or access these features?
There are quite a few associations established just to make handicapped people’s life easier and equip them with a sense of independence or initial start-up capitals. These organizations call for donations, throw different events, or launch campaigns to raise public awareness of difficulties the wounded people are facing. They give out free wheel chairs, white canes, sometimes food or funds. They also hold career fairs or provide vocational training workshops and illiteracy eradication programs. These are great approaches and on the right track but why the disabled are still the most susceptible to poverty?
The answer is most handicapped people just do manual jobs including selling lottery tickets, giving massages, working in a factory, etc. They don’t know any better; they lack guidance and need someone to believe in them and give them a chance to be feel normal. White collar work is an ambition and working in the IT field is like a dream that one wouldn’t dare to think of. On that note, Enable code came to birth.
The founders, a group of disabled people, realized IT should be the key to future for the weak. It allows them to work from home or anywhere in the world, among their peers or alone, at their own pace. It gives them mobility, comfort and better control of their time. IT also opens their eyes, allows them to access crucial information that helps them improve their health condition. IT lets them connect with people like them around the world to be inspired and become an inspiration. They are one of the pioneers in this field and the sky is the limit.
Enablecode only employs disabled people with a vision to change public attitudes towards the underprivileged. They are their own boss and no company has to foot the bill of fitting the workplace in favor of them. They might not be able to speak or walk properly; they might not have hands or legs; they might be blind or deaf but they are not short of creativity or artistic talents.
Flipping through their own website and their clients’, I wouldn’t imagine these are products of physically challenged people that in common belief or as led to believe should struggle in their everyday activities and know little of arts. Sitting at the meeting table with them by chance, it didn’t bring home to me that they were disabled. Everybody looked bright and professional and coordinate in sync well with one another; it’s the kind of rapport, understanding and connection I wish my team could have.
On seeing one of the company members open the door with his hands and moving… also with his hands flexibly and quickly, I feel amazed at their ability and also ashamed of myself for not treating my legs well or loving my body enough. My preconception of disabled people was all wrong. Everybody seeks recognition and for these people, it’s a upstream battle. They are fighting not only to survive, to support their family but also to change the society’s perception of the vulnerable. I believe in their vision, their cause and their ability. They are capable of expressing themselves and their appreciation of beauty well or even better than a normal person since they can see the finest, smallest detail in life, things most people take for granted.. Knowing them has changed my view; working with them has changed my style. If you don’t believe me, prove me wrong!
Enablecode is a social enterprise based in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, which employs programmers and designers with physical disabilities. Do you want to help Enablecode spread awareness about people with disabilities in the developing world or do you want to receive more information about our services? Contact us here.