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.
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:
The trainees in various partner organisations, depending on the structure of the national programme have different opportunities at gaining access to the labour market:
TELEWORKING JOBS SUITABLE FOR THE DISABLED
Visually impaired and blind people:
Hearing Impaired and deaf people:
Mentally Impaired people:
Motor Impaired people:
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:
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: http://phase12.iuta.u-bordeaux.fr/page/step/step.htm