Assistive technology like braille keyboards can greatly improve workplace accessibility, the report authors point out (Photo: DNB, Stephan Jockel)

Report highlights hiring practices as hurdle to disabled European job-seekers

Free Article

Employees with disabilities continue to face serious obstacles to labour market inclusion, according to a new report by the European Disabilities Forum (EDF) published on Wednesday (10 July).

The report details how, despite existing legal frameworks on reasonable accommodation measures, these are not effectively put into practice to truly help Europeans with disabilities, as access issues and hostile workplace cultures remain.

Main issues include a lack of “awareness, provision of assistive technology, reasonable accommodation and development of digital skills” the report authors write, calling on public authorities in the EU to step up their game.

“Employers need more information and support, or persons with disabilities will remain excluded,” said Maureen Piggot, EDF executive committee member, adding that more policies were needed to “allow workers with disabilities to be employed and, more than that, to be valued”.

The findings come as employment levels of people with disabilities continue to be significantly lower than the rest of the population, with only 51 percent of people with disabilities in employment compared to 75 percent of those without, according to previous research by the EDF.

But the report highlights that inadequate hiring practices have contributed to this gap remaining pervasive, with only one-in-four employers in the EU participating in programmes that make recruitment more accessible.

Among EU member states, Spain is the only positive outlier, with 82 percent of employers interviewed using accessible hiring programmes. Spain also has a comparatively small employment gap, coming in at 14 percent, with only Portugal, Denmark and Luxembourg scoring better.

But accessibility issues continue after the recruitment process as well, the report's authors write, with 81 percent of employers interviewed for the service saying that they did not have any programmes in place for the acquisition of assistive technology, with 75 percent not even sure whether their employees used such technological aids.

Generally, a lack of awareness and understanding was a pervasive problem obstructing the professional inclusion of people with disabilities, the report highlighted. This applied to public support programmes for reasonable access as well, with only a quarter of employers aware of such programmes.

In order to address the issues, the report called on both employers and public authorities to increase both funding and awareness for accessible technology.

Noting that the 100 million Europeans with disabilities “represent the largest minority in Europe,” failure to effectively include them “would result in a societal and economic cost our continent simply cannot afford,” the authors argued.

Assistive technology like braille keyboards can greatly improve workplace accessibility, the report authors point out (Photo: DNB, Stephan Jockel)


Author Bio

Piet Ruig is a Brussels-based journalist who previously worked for the Dutch public broadcaster VPRO.


Related articles