"Europa, disabili, tecnologie e mondo del lavoro."


Aspasia Dassios - National/Transnational Coordinator of DISNET-STEP Project (HORIZON) “DIMITRA” Institute of Training and Development Larissa, Greece

Teleworking for the Disabled - "DISNET-STEP" project

The aim of the DISNET-STEP project is exactly what the name implies: a “disability network”. It is a project designed to offer people with physical or sensory disabilities, or disadvantaged people*, equal access to employment through new technologies by developing ‘telecentres’ for teletraining (self and, open and distance learning) and teleworking.

The partnership is quite large and comprises 9 transnational partners from 5 countries and 6 national partners, servicing a variety of disabled and disadvantaged target groups.

Name of Organisation Target Group Age of  Trainees
Centre De Formacion Professionelle De La Cepiere, Toulouse, FRANCE  Motor/Visually/ Psychologically Impaired 18-55
I.N.S.U.P/ G.I.H.P. AQUITAINE Merignac, Bordeaux, FRANCE Motor/Visually/ Impaired Socially disadvantaged 18-50
ENFAP Nazionale Rome, ITALY  Motor/Visually/ Neurologically Impaired 18-50
Verein fur Intereuropaische Studien e.V. Ludwigshafen GERMANY Hearing Impaired 18-45
Action for Blind People Carlisle, UNITED KINGDOM Motor/Visually/Hearing Impaired 18-64
Bradford and Ilkley Community College Bradford, UNITED KINGDOM Motor/Visually/Hearing Impaired 18-80
Greenwich Community College, London UNITED KINGDOM Motor Impaired 18-80
DIMITRA Institute of Training and Development Larissa, GREECE Motor Impaired 18-45

Recent European studies have indicated that there is a growth in small and medium enterprises and in the service sector (DG II Eurostat 1994-95). Therefore, there will be a shortage of skills at a supervisory level. For this reason some of the DISNET-STEP training programmes focus on teaching management and entreprenuerial skills. Due to the lack of disabled people working in the Information Technology and Computer Science fields, courses in these areas are offered as well. Still some other programmes teach skills that prepare the disabled for other jobs that lend themselves well to teleworking.

Topics taught through the DISNET-STEP training programmes in different partner organisations:

  • computer usage office technology information technology accounting translation, interpretation desk top publishing computer graphics
  • import-export trade multimedia Internet greenhouse cultivation entrepreneurial skills business start-up marketing customer servic

The trainees in various partner organisations, depending on the structure of the national programme have different opportunities at gaining access to the labour market:

  • Work-experience placements on location in businesses after the theoretical part of the training.
  • Teleworking from a telecentre or from home where a trainee receives tasks via e-mail, fax or phone from businesses (e.g. translations, data entry) and then sends it back when completed. The telecentres are outfitted with “work- stations” supplying the necessary hardware and software required by the trainee to support his/her disability. Computers have access to Internet, a BBS system, and some telecentres have videophones.
  • Starting up their own business (e.g. sales through the Internet, graphic design)


Visually impaired and blind people:

-help line services -telephone services -telemarketing by telephone -market research -receptionist -translation -using and developing software -teaching -accounting

Hearing Impaired and deaf people:

-data entry -desk top publishing -INTERNET sales -accounting

Mentally Impaired people:

Serious cases:

Jobs that involve a network/socialisation structure in areas such as graphics/design

Lighter cases:

-desk top publishing -data entry

Motor Impaired people:

All the jobs listed in this table

As well as the direct aim of providing skills to the disabled and disadvantaged and giving them a chance to come into contact with the working world, most national programmes include the indirect aim of sensitising employers to the fact that the disabled and disadvantaged are productive members of the workforce. Through developing written material, workshops, press conferences and meetings, organisations approach employers and inform them of the various subsidies or other advantages that might be offered when they hire someone from this target group. In the Greek programme businesses that accept disabled trainees for a work -experience placement will have ramps, other structural modifications (widening of doorways, etc) or indications (braille numbers in elevator, lights on telephones) installed at no charge to encourage future hiring.

The same partnership is planning on putting in another bid for the continuation of this project. One of the goals will be the interconnection of all the telecentres in the different countries of the partners in order to form a ‘consortium’ for common business projects.

On a national level in Greece, many activities have been carried out of an important nature. In order to be able to run a training programme offering appropriate training to a specific target group, one must rely on the availability of statistics such as population of the disabled by type and condition of the labour market. In Greece these type of statistics are usually non-existent, or if they do exist they are usually not accurate. Thus many of the activities undertaken by the Greek partnership have to do with studies or the proper collection of data, such as:

  • A study including a census of the disabled in the region of Thessaly , their distribution in the labour market, and the demands of the labour market in this region
  • An Employment Guidebook for the disabled
  • A catalogue of equipment, aids, and new technologies (hardware and software) available on the market in the world to assist the disabled in learning and working
  • A manual outlining the structural necessities and other modifications, indications that a building needs in order to be accessible to physically and sensory disabled people
  • A Panhellenic Data Base containing information for the disabled (medical, legal, events, job opportunities) already functioning on Internet at address

We stress that most of the above materials are being developed for the first time in Greece. For full information about the DISNET-STEP programme and the partner organisations, visit our web server at:


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