The right of persons with disability to work
By Ms. Binita Hunte
February 28, 2004
Human beings with physical, mental and sensory functioning have always existed, but people with functional limitations and disabilities always run the risks of being excluded and marginalized. Societies behave as if persons with disabilities do not exist, and as if all human beings understand and react quickly and adequately to signals from the world around them.
This inability of human nature to address the needs of all its citizens in the development of society is the main reason for the isolation and exclusion of persons with disabilities, which can be observed in different forms and to different degrees in the world. This pattern of behavior that is deeply rooted in prejudice, fear, shame and lack of understanding of what it really means to live with a disability, would take a long time to change.
The depiction of people with disabilities as objects of health, welfare and charity programs, often results in their segregation and exclusion from mainstream activities including employment. It is often assumed that persons with disabilities cannot or don not want to work. However, this is incorrect; disabled persons like non-disabled persons want to work and, given opportunity can, and do work.
In spite of statistical evidence of unemployment in every country in the world, work continues to be an essential part of the human condition. For instance, it represents the primary source of income upon which their survival depends. Not only is it crucial to the enjoyment of survival rights such as food, clothing, or hosing, it affects the level of satisfaction of many other human rights such as the rights to education, culture and health.
Persons with disabilities are denied employment or given mainly menial or poorly remunerated jobs. This is true even though it can be demonstrated that with proper assessment, training and placement, the great majority of disabled persons can perform a large range of tasks in accordance with the prevailing work norms. Disable persons who are employed tend to have better attendance records, stay with employers longer and have fewer accidents at work.
But in times of joblessness and economic distress, disabled persons are usually the first to be discharged and the last to be employed. It is imperative therefore that measures should be put in place to ensure that disabled persons have equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment in the open Labor Market.