i2i webinar: "Disability-inclusive employment in a new digital, COVID-changed landscape"

This session was hosted by Salma Mahbub, who started off by introducing Smriti Dhingra to set the scene with a summary of the i2i’s latest findings in Bangladesh and Kenya with regards to assisted technology (AT).

Smriti summarised the key findings of the i2i programme, emphasising that regardless of disability digital AT has been essential. She also talked through the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in accessing AT and gaining employment, illustrating with quotes from both persons with disabilities and employers to give a full picture. She also summarised some the key recommendations that have come out of the program.

Salma then introduced the panel of speakers. From Bangladesh, Joshiah Sangmar gave perspectives from persons with disabilities, while Hamimur Rahman provided perspective of from employers. Providing insight from Kenya we had John Wambua, a disability rights advocate, and Asiya Mo, a Paralympian and i2i skills training participant.

The panel all gave compelling examples of where AT has been crucial for persons with disabilities gaining employment, using themselves or colleagues as examples. They were then asked to highlight some of the key challenges they see people with disabilities facing in getting and using AT.

Hamimur Rahman, especially, was asked for the experience of employers with these challenges and asked for his perspective on how we can solve them.

Discussion then explored additional steps that might be required by governments and employers to ensure reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. There was particular emphasis on how to overcome the challenges of affordability, availability, and accessibility of AT.

They then discussed the impact of COVID-19 and how the pandemic has highlighted other enabling factors to ensure persons with disabilities can stay in meaningful employment. They also had an insightful discussion about how the long-awaited recognition of the viability of work-from-home is providing more opportunity for persons with disabilities. They noted that it has also highlighted what further work needs to be done to help employers more fully understand the challenges persons with disabilities face.

There were then some questions from the audience, prompting the panel to discuss intersectionality and how we can go about not leaving behind the groups that have been chronically disadvantaged as we move forward with increasing access to employment by persons with disabilities through AT.

The discussion was then wrapped up with each speaker sharing their view on what should be the number 1 priority to ensure persons with disabilities are being given the best ability to take advantage of AT to find employment.

Watch this video on our YouTube channel