Disability and career: an impossible pair?

As a woman and a worker with a visible disability, I often find myself in front of more or less evident “walls”, when it comes to access not just a job (that is, itself, very important, as we’ve underlined many times here, for the disabled people dignity and autonomy), but also career opportunities, just like everyone else, thanks to my background of experiences and skills. But, most of the times, I had to verify (not without some disappointment) that, when it comes to disability and career opportunities, it’s still a long way, mostly under a cultural perspective.

Gradually, also under the “push” of monetary sanctions, businesses are starting to accept the idea to include people with disability in their workforce. But let’s be honest: looking at the job opportunities issued on the specialized job boards, how many of those specifically addressed to “protected categories” refer to highly qualified and specialized profiles? Nevertheless, many disabled people have high levels of education, a relevant professional background and advanced skills. Then, why, not just in Italy, is it that hard to go beyond the prejudice that, at the most, a “protected category” (most of all if he has an evident physical disability) can carry out basic, low level tasks that, preferably, don’t require a direct contact with top customers? Why do disability and career seem to be still incompatible?

Many disabled workers, even though they have a job, suffer (more or less subtle) forms of discrimination every day, when not real blackmails. Many of them, in these months, have sent private messages to Move@bility to share their problems in (not to mention those who are now demoralized, after years pointlessly looking for a job fitting with their skills and experience). I’ve personally experienced as well, during my professional path, how it feels to be rejected from career opportunities because those were considered (a priori) “incompatible with my disability”. Cannot a disabled person be a credible leader?

It makes me think the fact that, too often, also associations that, in theory, defend the disabled people rights, when you point them out such cases of discrimination, reply, even somewhat annoyed: “Don’t make a fuss” and “You’d rather think about who’s still looking for a job!”. It’s true: the overwhelming majority of disable people, today, is totally left out the world of work. But is this a good reason to, even indirectly, support the opinion that disability and career are, as a matter of fact, seen as incompatible?

Only when we, for first, will start to overcome this “welfare-oriented” view and to demand, for everyone, the real equality of rights (and duties) and of chances to access job (and career) opportunities compatible with the experience, the skills and, of course, the condition of each individual, we can talk about real progress and inclusion.


Discrimination towards disabled people: a new way to defend yourself

Whoever, both directly or indirectly, lives with any disability is aware of how often you have to face more or less clear forms of discrimination. Not only the ubiquitous architectonical barriers (that notably complicate movements and, in general, the disabled people daily life), but also (and especially) due to hard to die prejudices, whose effects are visible at school, at work and, generally speaking, whenever you have to compare to other people.

Too often, who’s subjected to discrimination -due to unawareness or because he’s sure not to have at his disposal ways to defend himself- accepts with resignation what happens, withdraws into himself, as it happens in case of bullying.  Yet, there are many ways to defend yourself (even legally, if needed).

discriminazione handicap

For instance, the Franco Bomprezzi” Center Against Discrimation in Milan, launched in July 2015 by LEDHA (the League for the Rights of Disabled People) and named after a great journalist and writer, who was affected by a severe disability and spent his life fighting personally to see the rights of people with disability acknowledged and defended. He was among the promoters of this project.

The center aims to assist disabled people subjected to discrimination, providing them, their relatives or the organizations that represent them with listening, information, consulting and, if needed, defense. So, it aims to boost the awareness of disabled people, and of the whole community, towards cases of discrimination, both those that have been legally sanctioned and those that would have to.

During its first year of activity, the center collected almost 1300 warnings of discrimination cases: 236 of them were discriminations due to the disability of the person (in accordance with the 67/2006 law).

how to benefit from the service against discrimination?

If you are subjected to discrimination due to your disability or someone in your family is discriminated due to his disability or, again, if you see discrimination against someone with disability, you can point it out to the center, calling 026570425 (answering from Monday to Thursday, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm) or sending an e-mail to antidiscriminazione@ledha.it. If you just want more information about the service, please write to info@ledha.it.

“promoting, protecting and safeguarding the full and equal enjoyment of all the human rights and fundamental freedom by disabled people and promoting respect of their inherent dignity” (Art. 1, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Do you know similar initiatives in other cities and regions as well? Share them with me and I’ll be happy to talk about them!