Besides numerous other issues of social discrimination and drawbacks, blind and visually impaired people particularly face serious disadvantages on the labour market. The unemployment rate among this target group of more than 6.5 million people in Europe is extremely high in all EU countries.(E. g. Germany: 72 %; Poland: 87 %; between 40 and 50 % on average in the European countries; see Employment Study of the European Blind Union.) There are still hardly any chances for this target group to get high-quality and, therefore, highly reputed jobs. The reasons for this situation are manifold: In addition to a generally still discriminating approach by the society and in addition to high competition and globalisation pressure on enterprises, which makes consequent employment of blind people difficult, the situation can particularly be seen in connection with the fact that high-quality jobs almost always demand IT knowledge. The possibilities for blind people to work with IT, however, are basically subject to the following limitations: the working aids offered (screen reader software) are expensive and cannot be financed by the enterprises without external support (by the welfare systems); existing working aids are only poorly compatible with standard software (e. g. Outlook, Excel, Access); individual countries (mainly among the new member countries) have no supporting systems that would fund the use of existing solutions. Moreover, blind people are often not sufficiently competent to work with existing working aids, and there is no adequate supporting structure. Generally, this situation results in blind people facing tremendous labour market disadvantages all over Europe (and particularly in the new member states); they have hardly any chances of getting into high-quality jobs since they cannot (or only with the help of extremely expensive means) work with the IT support that is characteristic for these jobs. In times of economic crisis throughout Europe, this development is even dramatically intensifying. This altogether results in the urgent demand for a package for blind people to support them in picking up IT-based content (at work and in education and training). Such a package should be: available for free, available in all European languages, accompanied by an adequate supporting structure.
Get Access to the 1st Network for European Cooperation