May 1st is Labor Day, an important day to raise awareness of workers’ rights. People with disabilities still experience disadvantages and discrimination on the Austrian labor market. Although companies have an obligation to employ people with disabilities (employment obligation), many prefer to pay the compensatory tax. This hits blind and severely visually impaired people particularly hard. According to the European Blind Union, 75% of blind and partially sighted people of working age in Europe are unemployed. The reasons for this are varied and range from fear of contact, lack of awareness, to a lack of accessibility at the workplace. The aid community pursues different approaches in order to make a difference in the area of work.
Awareness training for companies
We offer awareness training for companies. Here we train, tailored to the wishes of the respective company, on the subject of disability in general, explain discrimination and aids in the workplace and also offer practical training on request. Sighted people can, for example, try out how to walk with a cane and thus develop a feeling for the needs of visually impaired people. Companies like to take advantage of this for various reasons: because they have employed people with disabilities themselves, want to train their staff for customers with disabilities, or simply want to create awareness of the issue of disabilities as part of a diversity concept.
Advice on aids
Our consulting department informs visually impaired and blind people about the latest products on the aids market and supports them in applying for various financing options. In the course of an aids consultation, we find the right aids for each person for the respective workplace.
Projects related to digitization and work: VED tools
In various projects, we work with national and international partners to develop new options for more accessibility in the workplace. Topics range from new technologies to creating jobs for blind and visually impaired people. As part of the VED-Tools project, for example, we developed tools for visual settings on the PC. Even simple adaptations such as contrast adjustments can make everyday work on the screen significantly easier for visually impaired employees with a certain level of vision.
We also support start-ups and scientific research that develop assistive technologies with our expertise. In this way, we ensure that the needs of our blind and visually impaired members are already taken into account in the development of products.
Barrier-free network with WACA
What would an accessible workplace be without accessible websites? With our WACA project and our representation in various international bodies, we are working hard to make the World Wide Web more accessible for people with a (visual) disability. Reading software is only useful in the workplace if the page called up is barrier-free or at least has few barriers.
Last but not least, we are an inclusive employer ourselves and have people with and without disabilities in our teams. We attach great importance to accessibility in the work process. A disability representative represents the concerns of our disabled colleagues. You can read more about this on our blog soon.