Employment Opportunities for Disabled Persons: Innovative Training and Technology

Notes of the 2nd Project Meeting

Messina, 22-24 November 1998


$ See appendix 1 - Participants List



$ See documents:


Is dissemination of the project to be done by all partners? This was said during the 1st project meeting. But dissemination activities can be realised differently due to changes in the project course. The responsibility for this lies with CAVA-IRIS itself.

This was the list for the 1st project meeting in Gent. An new list will be made for this meeting.

A new list will be made for this meeting in which the co-ordinates of the UNIMATICA participants will be included.

Training of young deaf people in computer science & employment of these people after the training

  1. Selection of potential students
  2. There are 13 students. 4 students are living in Messina. They have a dregee of lower secondary school. 9 students come from the region of Messina where it is easier to motivate families for training and the families’ cultural level is higher. These students have a degree of higher secondary school.

  3. Screening of potential students
  1. Selection of trainers
  2. Training of trainers
  3. Explanation of SAM (skills analysis model)

  4. Guidelines for training activities:
  5. Partial draft of handbook for quality guarantees

  6. Study visit INDOGO to CSSC
  7. Confrontation with didactic methodologies
  8. Organisation of the training for Computer System Operator

Explanation of the use of SAM for the division of the training into modules

The training consists of three modules (Technical Computer Operator, System Operator, Network Operator). During the third module students will gain some work experience in firms in Aosta. The aim is to integrate the deaf students in companies. But as there are only few enterprises in Messina and even less enterprises open to disabled persons, an enterprise will be founded by CSSC itself. This will be an enterprise for deaf and hearing persons. A similar project for hearing persons was applied for by the ESF. It has however never been approved and is being realised without ESF financing at the moment.

Enterprises never ask for training of employees themselves. They do not seem to be open to the employment of disabled persons and even not to the application of new technologies.




CAVA (Centre for the Adaptation to an Active Life) was founded in 1987 as an initiative of the city of Faches Thumesnil. The first objective was to offer leisure time activities to disabled persons. The determination of the activities to organise, was based on a need analysis. This analysis showed the need for social recognition and a desire for work of disabled persons. Therefore two structures were created. One for gardening and a workshop. The target group of CAVA are disabled persons with a mental, physical, psychiatric or "social" handicap. The aim is to realise the social and/or professional insertion of these persons, to give them again an identity, to value them, to integrate them in an ordinary work setting.

In 1994 IRIS came into being. This structure for sheltered employment had to facilitate the integration in the open labour market. IRIS is an economic structure in the first place, a social structure in the second. The disabled persons working for IRIS receive a wage. IRIS has two sections: a sheltered enterprise and a section for industrial cleaning.

Within these two structures the idea has risen to establish a speech group for families with disabled children. The aim of the speech groups is to reduce the parents’ feelings of guilt and their overprotecting behaviour in order to enhance the disabled person’s autonomy. These groups are co-ordinated by a family therapist, Jacky Levasseur. Jacky Levasseur explained his work with the families.

In the speech groups we are working with families, parents of disabled persons. These parents often feel that they are responsible for the handicap of their child and they feel guilty. In the beginning of the project we started to work with the parents of disabled persons, working in CAVA & IRIS. The speech groups gave them the opportunity to talk and to come out of their isolated position. The parents experienced that there were other families with the same feelings and problems. They also could see how other families had been evolving with their children. In this way, they themselves experienced what could be possible. It is not told to them by a professional. The family therapist’s task in these speech groups is to explain how families are evolving and why they are evolving. Despite a similar suffering, each family is different. The family therapist uses this difference in order for the families to start working and making changes themselves when they are at home again. At home they start working on their relation with the disabled child, on aspects they have been able to understand thanks to the speech group. It is important that they can change slowly. The parents work within 2 dimensions. On the one hand, they would say their child is old enough to be independent. On the other hand, they feel that their child needs care because of its handicap.

At the moment we are working with the "children" as well (average age is 30 years old). But sometimes also the other children (brothers and sisters) without a handicap are facing problems. Therefore the counselling of one family is possible as well. It is important to give the other children the opportunity to participate. They often had to accept that their handicapped brother or sister was given more attention.

Parents often say that their handicapped children are hard on them. The children have understood that staying little gives them advantages. But sometimes they are difficult because they feel they can not grow. The children are often captured between staying little and becoming big.

For the speech groups, system analysis is used. Family therapy is only offered when a family asked for it. The family therapist listens a lot and gives some support to the participants. The aim is to create an new context in the family which allows them to be creative and to bring about changes themselves. "Pour aider l’autre, il faut poser des questions qui n’a pas en tÍte." (Helping someone is asking questions that he has not in his head.)

This kind of speech group is not only helpful for persons with a specific handicap but for all target groups with a difference.

While trying to achieve the objective of integration in the open labour market, one is confronted with 2 different worlds: the world of the handicap and the world of the enterprise. One should be able to intervene between these two worlds. But this is only possible for a disabled person with adequate competences and the ability to work in an enterprise environment. So you need to know the disabled person well and you need to know if the disabled matches the requested profile. Employment is often achieved in firms which are currently being clients of IRIS. After employment there is a follow-up during 1 year.

$ See also progress report distributed during the meeting


A proposal for the logo and a heading for letters was sent to the partners beforehand. Some minor changes have been made. Partners agree on the drafts made. All partners are given a disc version of the EDIT-logo and the heading for letters and faxes, as well as some copies on paper of them.


Partners are given a proposal for the official EDIT-summary. Remarks on this proposal should be sent to INDOGO within 14 days.


UNIMATICA has done a telephone survey of 600 enterprises (with an average of 10 employees) in 3 regions (Sardinia, Sicily and Poulia). In order to examine the specific situation of SME’s a questionnaire was sent to 194 employers, 158 persons responsible for purchasing, 35 general directors and 213 staff members. There was a non-response of 20 %.

These are the results of the survey.

In 38% of the enterprises the number of employees had risen since 2 years. In 40 % of the enterprises the number of employees had not changed since 2 years and in 21 % the number had been reduced.

In the case of a grown number of employees, 35 % of the contracts were for indefinite period, 43 % for definite period and 14 % were work experience/apprenticeship contracts. In the case of a stable number of employees, 31 % of the contracts were for indefinite period, 19 % for definite period and 36 % were work experience/apprenticeship contracts. In the case of a reduced number of employees, 11 % of the contracts were for indefinite period, 23 % for definite period and 36 % were work experience/apprenticeship contracts.

In 34 % of the enterprises there was a tendency for a growing number of employees. 7,7 % opt for part-time contracts. 37 % of the enterprises opts for contracts for indefinite period, 42 % for work experience/apprenticeship contracts, 13 % for other contracts with fiscal advantages. One can find the most growing number of employees in Sardinia.

Reasons for the reduction in the number of employees are: (1) labour cost, (2) reduction of the demand for products and services, (3) uncertainty about future markets, (4) growth of fiscal pressure.

With regard to the number of handicapped employees, 94 % of the enterprises answered that they had no handicapped employees. Only in 5,5 % of the enterprises disabled persons were employed. 79 % of these disabled persons have a contract of indefinite period. 76 % of these disabled persons are physically disabled. 15 % are blind people. Sardinia is the region to employ most disabled persons. But there is a tendency towards more employment.

The enterprises (5,5 % of all) were also asked for the reasons on which they had based the employment of the disabled person. 34 % replied that they had respected the law of 1968 which obliges every enterprise with more than 35 employees to employ disabled persons for at least 5 % of the total number of employees. 25 % said that there is no difference in the professional competence of these persons in comparison with non disabled persons. 16 % had an agreement with a workers organisation. 6 % said they were sensitive to the problems of handicapped persons.

42 % of the enterprises which did not employ disabled persons at the moment of the survey, said they would employ a disabled person. 62 % of these enterprises said that disabled persons are workers which can work and be productive. 21 % answered that disabled persons were needed to do specific jobs in the enterprise. 15 % said they would employ a disabled person because of the existing law. 10 % said they would employ a disabled person because of a social obligation.

Enterprises who would not employ disabled persons said they would not do it because of a lack of adaptations (43,1 %). They would however be prepared to employ a disabled person if they would receive financing for adaptations (20 %) or fiscal advantages (15 %). 35 % of the enterprises was not prepared under any condition to employ a disabled person.

In order to make enterprises sensitive to the employment needs of disabled persons, the enterprises propose apprenticeships and conferences to inform about problems and possibilities.

Enterprises without disabled employees find that enterprises with disabled employees need to deliver quality. They say that the same standards for quality and productivity apply for both enterprises.

Enterprises opt for the following functions for disabled employees: 50 % for administrative work, 20 % for clerks, 16 % for receptionist/telephonist, 4,6 % for whatever activity, 3 % for porter. 10 % of the enterprises say that no functions are possible. The question if external consultants can be disabled, was answered by 90 % of the enterprises with "no problem".

52 % of the enterprises found that public entities should make employers sensitive to the employment of disabled persons. 78 % of the enterprises say that they even do not know the law. (often because they have less than 35 employees and are not obliged to employ disabled persons)

The enterprises were finally asked for the role of the family in enhancing the professional integration of their handicapped children. 39 % answered that families were very protective and curb their children’s development. 54 % stated that the families were supportive for the professional integration of their children.

Enterprises know that 10 % of the people are handicapped in one way or the other. But enterprises are not conscious of new developments and techniques which could facilitate the employment of a disabled person. Enterprises do not consider handicapped persons with the same professional competences as a second choice.

Horizon-project for the dissemination of distance learning for deaf adults

INDOGO made a booklet called "Multimediaal interactief afstandsonderwijs voor doven. Tips voor didactisch materiaal." This booklet highlights some guidelines for the language and lay-out of didactic materials for distance learning to deaf people.

INDOGO is still running some tests with the available system for visual communication. No decisions have yet been made about the purchase of computer equipment for distance learning. However, specific funds for this purchase have already been found.

INDOGO has started a few experiments for distance learning. Three deaf persons are trained in the use of Windows and Word by distance teaching. A promotion video has been made of these experiments. This video was shown to the partners.

As course material for the initiation modules for distance learning, INDOGO has made a booklet with signs for computer science. An additional video with these signs has been recorded as well.

A second meeting of the Flemish forum for practical consultation about distance learning for target groups was organised by INDOGO in September 1998.

As a result of the co-operation with the Flemish Service for Job Counselling, INDOGO is invited to participate to the first meeting of the Belgian Network for Open and Distance Learning on 25 November 1998. This Belgian Network is represented in the European Federation of Open and Distance Learning.

Two staff members of INDOGO and COI (training centre) visited the deaf schools in Flanders in order to discuss further possibilities for the development of distance learning for deaf people. The overall conclusion is that distance learning contains opportunities for multiple target groups of deaf persons (unemployed, employees, formation for adults, students of secondary schools) and multiple learning contents. COI could evolve towards a general training centre for deaf persons which is capable of addressing the educational needs of deaf adults by offering individual training packages.

Promotion of the project towards the deaf in Flanders:

A brochure about the different training possibilities for deaf people in COI was made. The booklets were sent to the deaf schools and the parents of young deaf persons leaving school.

INDOGO was present on the Word Deaf Day in Flanders (26 September 1998) with an informative stand.

The project ended officially 30 September 1998. The development of distance learning for deaf people will however continue as part of the project Telecom-do.

The dissemination materials (booklets en video) will be sent to all EDIT-partners in the oncoming weeks.


Adapt-BISproject for training in computer science and new media-technical instruments for deaf people

Since May INDOGO has been working on two phases of the project: the elaboration of the training content and the development of the media-technical equipment.

INDOGO is still carrying out a survey about existing training plans and materials for the training of clerks in computer applications.

INDOGO is also still making an inventory of the specific needs of the target group.

INDOGO has signed a co-operation contract with the firm "Technologie en Integratie" and decided to start developing a user interface for visual communication and speech technology in a stable setting. Technologie en Integratie has started to make a survey about systems for visual communication.

Within the framework of the projects Prodem en Telecom-do Harlinde Exelmans (INDOGO), Patrick Van Driessche en Wim De Loor (both COI) made in September a study visit to "Centro Studi Silvio Cucinotta" in Messina, Sicily.

Br. M. Buyens, Harlinde Exelmans en Stefaan Martens (INDOGO) visited in November CAVA & IRIS in Faches Thumesnil, France.

$ See also progress reports distributed during the meeting


All partners are to add their own co-ordinates to forms for letters and faxes

All partners are to send their remarks to INDOGO within 14 days


Appendix 1. List of participants




Organisation Name Function
CAVA / IRIS Christophe Delezie Director
CAVA / IRIS Jacky Levasseur Family therapist
CAVA Isabelle Boulier Co-ordinator
UNIMATICA Confapi Salvatore Sotgiu President
UNIMATICA Confapi Maria Elena Cuccuru Co-ordinator


Vincenzo Di Rosa Client Responsible - Market Research Unit
Centro Studi "Silvio Cucinotta" Giovanni Di Vona President
Centro Studi "Silvio Cucinotta" Giuseppe Di Benedetto Project Associate
Centro Studi "Silvio Cucinotta" Maria Terracina Interpreter
INDOGO Br. Maurice Buyens Director
INDOGO Harlinde Exelmans Project co-ordinator
INDOGO Stefaan Martens Project Associate