Today’s smartphones and tablet PCs make self-employment a reality for people like Janice Fucci, who hears and lip-reads with a cochlear implant. Now aged 60, Fucci runs a small business using text messages, calendar apps and Facebook to reach her clients, some sourced from past salon jobs.
Roadmaps And Goal Setting
Strategies used by Fucci, directly fit the Irish government’s plan for people with disability to enter mainstream and supported employment in a 10-year plan. This social reform must introduce digital tools and skills to trainees and jobseekers with disability, to level their path to employment and workplaces.
Educators working with today’s young people also need familiarity with these digital tools to raise expectations for graduates and trainees to move into entrepreneurship and PAYE employment when their education finishes.
Time To Reform Disability Services
Most people of working age who have a disability, want to work. This fact was noted in the Irish Times broadsheet newspaper by Simon Harris, a TD (public representative in Ireland) who clearly articulates the Irish solution to this issue:
Traditionally, our approach to disability services in this country has been to write a cheque [to service providers], but never to examine if the systems and structures are in place to empower people with disabilities to live the lives they want to live.
‘Block-Funding Grants’ Open To Risks
We need to introduce individualised budgets [for people with disability]. This reform will be essential if we want to move away from the days of throwing money at disability services rather than reforming them.
Empowering People With Digital Tools
Public understanding of what empowered people with disability can achieve is a critical part of this reform. Awareness is also needed of the diversity in specific disabilities (namely, one size does not fit all, in education, training or workplaces) – and of digital skills and tools that can facilitate this inclusion.
As Heather Artinian says in this TEDx video, “Most of the time, all they see is the deaf, they don’t see the Heather.” Sometimes a past reality is seen by the media and public, instead of today’s empowered people who actively use hearing-devices and digital tools. They deserve to be seen and understood, too.