RECOGNISING POSSIBILITIES THROUGH THE "VIP-TECH-JOB: TIME 2 ACT!" PROJECT RESULTS: VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE, WORKPLACE TRAINING AND THE ENRICHMENT OF THE CURRENT LABOR MARKET
1 DAFNI KEK (GREECE)
2 VIEWS International (BELGIUM)
3 Fundacion Docete Omnes (SPAIN)
4 Aforisma (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:The WHO estimates that in Europe there are 2.550.000 blind people and 23.800.000 low vision people, giving a total of 26.350.000 VIPs. EBU (The European Blind Union) tends towards an estimate of 30.000.000 Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs), because several people who suffer from varying degrees of sight loss either ignore the condition or decide not to declare it. The level of unemployment among VIPs in Europe is estimated to be over 75% (Euroblind, 2018).
While the WHO, shows that employment rates vary across countries, “the bottom line is that a person with a disability is less likely to be employed than a person without a disability, often much less so” (Heymann, Stein, & de Elvira Moreno, 2014). In general, people with impairments follow the same path as people without impairments, but in significantly smaller percentages: if they have a higher level of education, they are more likely to get a job, men are more likely to be working compared to women, etc. However, as underlined by official data in Italy (ISTAT), Europe (European Coalition for Vision), and even the world (Social Science Quarterly, Volume 100, Issue 1), people with disabilities are less likely to be satisfied with their job tasks. This is particularly relevant for people with visual impairments, who are generally working in traditional sheltered job occupations such as lottery tickets sellers (SP), call center operators (BE, SP) or transcribers for the police (IT, BE). New generations, however, are trying to counteract this trend by studying and specialising in sectors and tasks that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago. This is possible thanks to national and European level policies (such as the Marrakesh Treaty) which foster and facilitate the autonomy and independence of young VIPs.
What emerges from our research, including the findings of a set of focus groups (total of 30 persons) carried out with VIPs in Belgium, Greece, Spain and Italy, and desk research, is first of all, the absence of specific data and statistical analysis related to young VIPs and job placement in the aforementioned countries. Data are not broken down by disability but refer in general to "people with disabilities" (BE, GR) or people with severe impairments (IT); sometimes it's divided by age groups (IT) and gender (IT, GR, SP, BE). In our paper we aim to showcase opportunities and provide consistent information on how to equip the labour market in attending to the vast pool of skills, knowledge and talents of VIPs and the posibilities that stem from the empowerment of VIPs in taking up space, speaking out and being equal members of the labour market.
This paper has been completed by the project consortium of the Erasmus+ KA2 "VIP-Tech-Job: Time 2 Act!". The project stems from an already executed project (VIPTechJob), completed in January 2020, during which an accessible Web App and an Online Platform were designed to enable young VIPs to search and successfully apply for a job in an accessible, efficient, and autonomous way. The project consortium is activated in 4 European Countries Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece. The findings included in our paper raised from a thorough context analysis to integrate new findings and existing data, to have a complete overview of the framework the project is going to operate in and aid us in more consistently advocating for the employability of VIPs and workplace training for supporting their integration in the labor market.
Keywords: Visually impaired persons, employability, experiences, support, training.