'Employ us' plead disabled people of UAE

The initiative to offer the disabled jobs in the private sector is the first of its kind in the country. (Patrick Castillo)

Despite the laws that compel all private and public institutions to hire at least two per cent of their staff from those who are with special needs, many of those are still un-employed and living on government help.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Fatima Al Tunaiji, Head of Community Service Unit at Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian and Special Needs said that the UAE has done a lot in the field of helping the people with special needs, and offering them all the means to live a good life.

“However, many institutions are doing paying attention to this and they are still not cooperating and not hiring people with special needs. This issue was part of the Ministry of Social Affairs law that said all institutions must hire at least two per cent of its staff from those who are of special needs.”

She pointed out that this problem does not exist only in the UAE, but it is faced by all other countries in the world.

She pointed out that the legal age of employment for special needs people in the country is 18 years and above. “Hearing, visual, physical, and some mental disabilities are all allowed to work after undergoing an evaluation to rate their conditions. They are also required to be trained and rehabilitated.”

Al Tunaiji added that employment and job security for people with special needs means a lot to them, more than the financial benefit. “Having a job for the people with special needs is an opportunity for them because it makes them feel accepted in the society and the people.”

She added that at the organisations, their duty is to ease the problem faced by the people with special needs, and to do their best to integrate them fully in the society.

“Marriage, treatment, people’s looks, facilities in all public places and buildings, and family disintegration, are all challenges faced by disabled people in their lives. Our job is to try overcoming all the challenges and provide ideas and suggestions that serve this group of people in the country. And with the help from the community, I am sure that we will,” she said.

Al Tunaiji added that lack of students in universities and colleges who study the field of special needs and disabilities is another challenge that they have to face due to lack of special needs trainers and teachers in the country.

“For example, sign language that is used for those who have hearing disabilities is very important, but unfortunately finding sign language translators is very rare and difficult. Especially at schools to serve the children with hearing difficulties who are integrated at normal schools as they need a sign language translator at all time to help them understand the lesson like other normal children,” she said.

Al Tunaiji added: “At the UAE University, there are plans to open new majors in the field of special needs and disabilities to encourage people to enter this field and there is already an agreement about that and new specialties are coming soon.”

She pointed out: “Environmental configuration, by this we mean that making the country a friendly place for special needs people by providing all facilities like ( bathrooms, car parking, walking paths and other things that makes it easier for the disabled people to reach the places they want. This is almost available in all the public and most of the private places in the country.”

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