Fireflies luty womai strona Gosia

Should disabled people work at all?

Should disabled people work at all? The answer in the words of a blind man... Paweł Król

You are young, healthy and on the threshold of your career, the whole labour market is waiting for your hard-won competences. Or maybe you have been working for a long time and hold an important position.

Wherever you work, you don't need special magnifying glasses, enlarged print, talking programmes, wheelchair ramps to be able to work or get to your workplace.

But there are people for whom all these things and many more are essential. If it were not for the development of technology, if it were not for a change in mentality, the potential of most of them would still persist, dormant within the four walls of oblivion of their homes or even care centres of various kinds.

Fortunately, I am one of those people who have a job and with their daily, strenuous efforts contribute to the growth of our beautiful country. But just think how much untapped enthusiasm is wasted because of all kinds of barriers.

My company, WOMAI, which employs several blind and visually impaired people, is taking part in an unusual project. This project is called Fireflies. It is an initiative aimed not only at creating jobs for the disabled, but also at adapting jobs and treating us with kindness and professionalism.

Even if a blind person manages to get some employment, if our workplace is well adapted, there is still the question of the right attitude towards this type of employee. How to behave? Handle us with everything? Or, on the contrary, toughen us up in nothing?

The answer to this question and many others can easily be found by taking part in the Fireflies project. Personally, I am very happy to be part of this much-needed initiative. I believe, as do the managers of WOMAI and many other companies that employ people with disabilities, that work is important: it gives a sense of resourcefulness in life, of usefulness, for one's country and one's family, and it is an indispensable part of rehabilitation for some.

If you question the validity of such inventions, just think of the fact that although today you are perfectly healthy, you don't have to think about computers with a talking program, or a ramp being the only way to get into the building that is your workplace, it is unfortunately possible that this will not always be the case.

And if you were disabled as a result of an illness or an accident, would you want to be confined within four walls for the rest of your life, being a burden on your family?

Fortunately, awareness of this issue is growing. One example of promoting good habits is an event that took place on 15 February at the WOMA Centre. A group of participants in the #WłączUważność Fireflies mentoring programme took part in a journey into the world of the blind. A tour of the exhibition 'towards the dark' was followed by a lecture led by Jack Piotrowski, a blind man and his guide dog. Inspired by the unusual visitor and the idea of a place like WOMAI, the participants learned how to implement diversity into companies and organisations.

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