How can future workplaces work better for people with disabilities?

How can future workplaces work better for people with disabilities?

Show Video

Imagine a world where no one is left behind. A world where everyone has the opportunity to get a job with decent working conditions. The global goals and the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development is a global- -political commitment to such a world.

The agenda contains 17 goals and 169 sub-goals. Out of the 17 ambitious goals, however, very few mention persons with disabilities. At the same time, the agenda undoubtedly entails a clear mission- -for all countries of the world to create increased participation for persons- -with disabilities in the labour market.

In the Nordic countries, a new vision sets the goals that in 10 years- -the Nordic countries should be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world- -with inclusion and equality in the Nordic countries. How can new technology, artificial intelligence and digitalization help- -governments across the globe to fulfill these rights? Which measures are required to include persons with disabilities in the labour market? Welcome to this webinar: How can future workplaces work better- -for persons with disabilities. It's a half-day conference, where some of the leading researchers in the world- -will give us their insights on these issues. My name is Hanna Gerdes, a human rights lawyer and educator. I'm the founder of Hanna and Goliath at Law and education. Today I've been given the privilege to moderate this important webinar.

This seminar will end at 12 o'clock, with two short breaks- -one at 9.55 and one at 10.55. Here in the studio, it's only me and Lars Lindberg, who I will introduce- -very shortly, and the technical staff. We have tried keeping the participation in the studio to as few people as possible- -because of corona, of course. However, with us from Helsinki, we have a part of our team: Jessica Gustafsson! Hi Jessica, nice to see you! Jessica is a communication advisor at the Nordic Welfare Centre, and she will- -be the one replying to your questions in the chat. She will also provide information by sending out links during the webinar. All speakers and panelists will join us from different parts of the world, through Zoom.

During the day you will be able to ask questions to the panelists. Please do! You can give comments, ask questions and share your thoughts in the chat. The chat is found in the toolbar in Zoom. Please note that you can send messages to everybody following the seminar- -or specifically just to the panelist or specifically the staff. This webinar is recorded, it will be published on the Nordic Welfare Centre's Youtube channel. We will edit it, and we will subtitle the recording.

Written interpretation is available - active this through the CC-function in the toolbar. You are also able to choose the size of the texting in the CC-settings. If you have any technical challenges, please write privately to our technical staff. We would also like to inform you that the participants will not be able to- -turn on their sound or video.

We'd like to start with some input from all the people listening. Because today almost 200 people are joining us. We would like to know some things about you. Where are you joining us from? Which country or part of the globe? Shortly you'll have a poll. Please answer it and let us know where you are joining us from. Then there will be another question, we're interested in which sector you work with. Are you a researcher, do you work for the government? Or perhaps for an international organization? Are you here listening as a private person? Please, tell us a little bit about you. Where are you joining us from? Which sector do you work in?

While you're answering I'll introduce Lars Lindberg, a senior advisor at the- -Nordic Welfare Centre. He has a very long experience with working with disability policy in Sweden. He has worked at the ministry of social affairs with responsibility for- -coordinating disability policies, and as the head of the accessibility center- -at the Disability ombudsman. Lars will now give us some brief notes on the reasons that we are gathered here today- -and about the project he is heading.

I hand over to you, Lars. Welcome everybody, to this exciting webinar that we have in front of us! It's really gratifying to see so many people signed up. This webinar is a part of a project that started a year ago. It's about the future of working life for persons with disabilities- -and in what way new digital technologies and other solutions can increase inclusion- -in the working life. Most of you are probably aware that this is a big challenge for the future.

Even before the pandemic, the challenge was great for many with disabilities, both to- -enter the labour market, and to establish and develop yourself in the same way as others. Few of us know what the long term consequences will be of the pandemic. What the effects will be, and the consequences on the economy.

But one thing is clear: There is a great risk that the gap will increase- -between those who have and those who don't have a disability. We also know that a crisis can help us gain new perspectives and create new solutions. The working life we have today is radically different from what we had a year ago. This year teleworking and digitalization is the new normal- -changing to the flexible working life that many have seen as an important prerequisite- -for persons with disabilities to be fully included.

What will last after this time, and will we have learned? There are also other questions we need to ask. For example, in what way will the ongoing automatization of working life- -affect workers with disabilities? Some of these questions we will get into today. But it also needs to be raised in another context as well.

The project is run by the Nordic Welfare Centre, which is an institution under- -the Nordic council of ministers' social and health sector. Our mission is to contribute to the development of welfare institutions in the Nordic region. The project is commissioned by the Nordic labour market committee- -whose task it is to enhance and promote Nordic cooperation on employment policy- -and research as well as initiate projects concerning the development- -and modernization of the labour market policies in the Nordic countries. The project consists of four parts: To produce a compilation of existing research and knowledge in the field. We should also point out the need for research and innovation. This will be presented by professor Jan Gulliksen and Stefan Johansson.

The compilation will be published in the beginning of next year. We will produce a sample collection of digital and technical solutions- -that are implemented in the Nordic countries. A tool box for implementation for these solutions will be developed. We should also act as support for employers, employees and professionals- -who work with assistive technologies and workplace adaptation. The tool box will also be published at the beginning of next year. This webinar is a part of this, and we will also hold an online conference in the spring- -where we go deeper into the issues of the future of working life for persons with disabilities.

You will all receive an invitation on your email later. Thank you! Thank you so much, Lars! I had a look at the questions asked, and it seems there are people joining us- -from all the Nordic countries, also from Europe and outside of Europe. Really interesting! There are a lot of people from the private sector, academia, public sector and NGO's. We are quite a multiple crowd here today. I have an important question for you: What are your expectations on the webinar today? There are a lot of exciting speakers who we will listen to. We know historically that new technology can create both new opportunities- -to make things better and more open, but can also create barriers.

With increased knowledge, I think we will be better prepared to choose- -a strategy for the future. I hope and think that this webinar will be a step in that direction. Thank you so much, Lars! We have a lot of interesting speakers with us today. I'd like to introduce the first speaker of the day: Stefan Trömmel, who has been- -a senior disability specialist for the international labor organisation since 2013. Hi, Stefan! Nice to see you.

Stefan was previously executive director of the International disability alliance. He was actively involved in the negotiation process on the UNCRPD. Today Stefan will be speaking about making the future of work inclusive- -for persons with disabilities. I hand over to you, Stefan, It's going to be really interesting to listen to you! Thank you and thank you to the Nordic Welfare Center for the invitation. Congratulations to the initiative! It's exactly these types of events that are needed in the current circumstances- -to ensure that persons with disabilities have better opportunities in the future- -labour market than now, which is definitely not a given.

We need to work towards that! I will present the main conclusions and recommendations from a report we- -launched last November, at a conference organized in Geneva, at the headquarters- -of the international labor organisation. It was under the title "Making the future of work inclusive for persons with disabilities". What we tried to do in that report was to look at the generally accepted trends- -of the labour market, through a disability lens - trying to ensure that- -the disability perspective is present in all discussions. And at the same time, try to bring these discussions of future work to the- -business and disability communities, to ensure that we are adapting our way- -working to these changes. Our conference was preceded by a conference of the ILO where we adopted a centenary- -declaration on the future of work. It insists on a human centered approach, and refers explicitly to the needs- -to ensure equal opportunities and treatment for persons with disabilities.

That's a very important statement. It's something that we need to construct and build. I will share the main conclusions and recommendations that came from this report- -which is a pre-covid-19 report. I will also talk about how these recommendations and conclusions have- -been affected by the current situation. There are five main recommendations that come out of the report. I will present and develop them a bit. The first one is about the recognition that we are looking at new forms of employment- -and employment relations, which needs to take into account the disability perspective.

In the ILO-context we speak about non-standard forms of employment. A recognition that once we get into the labour market, there's a stable, formal- -relationship with the employer. But this situation is changing. It's still the prevalent situation-

-in a developed country context, but it's changing. The percentage of non-standard- -forms of employment is increasing. It has its pros and cons - it has a lot of concerns looking at it from a labour- -law point of view. We speak about the platform economy and the gig-economy, which is still rather small- -percentage wise, but is definitely rapidly increasing. Surprisingly enough, when we were speaking about some of these new working- -forms in the report, teleworking wasn't much addressed.

If we would have known what was coming, we would have paid more attention to- -something that has become our current reality, for most of us. It is something that will definitely stay with us in a much more pronounced way than in the past. Not perhaps in the same way as right now, but we are definitely moving. In the Nordic countries you're well ahead of others. But in my context, in Switzerland, telework was rather exceptional. Now it's clear that this will become the norm rather than the exception.

That means that we need to look at the telework dimension at all its angles- -through a disability perspective, and through the diversity of the disability perspective. As we all know, persons with disabilities are a very diverse community- -where some can easily adjust to the conditions, whereas it's more complicated for others. We need to pay more attention to situations where telework is either not an option- -or where it would require additional efforts to ensure it.

It's also clear that legislation needs to adjust and adapt to the new situation. We still have labor legislation that is more based on old forms: The more standard forms of employment. We need now to develop legislation to see what the non-discrimination angle is- -of the new forms of employment. If we are to revise the telework legislation, what is the disability angle- -in that context? Other very important, and not easy elements that need adjusting is social protection.

Again, we were used to social protection systems, at least in the OECD-countries. You are in a labour relationship throughout your life, contributing to your pension. You're mostly in the labour market, perhaps with a few breaks. But all that is now changing with these new forms of relations.

Perhaps it's also an opportunity to correct some of the very often badly- -designed social protection system, from a disability inclusion perspective. Sometimes things are done in the context of social protection, that doesn't- -always help persons with disabilities to find a job. That is the first area: The new forms of employment, and how to look at those- -that have become more and more prevalent, through a disability perspective. The second area addressed in the report was about skill development and lifelong learning- -to be made inclusive for persons with disabilities.

It's a similar notion to before - the big change we see happening... The idea- -that you acquire skills, go to the university and go to the labour market- -with those skills and a few adjustments you can make your career - that is changing. The whole concept of lifelong learning is becoming much more in need. We can no longer expect that our current skills will continue to be relevant in the near future. There have been studies done by organisations, with the message that- -most of the current jobs will no longer exist, and half of the jobs- -that will exist in 10 years time are jobs that almost don't exist nowadays.

That means we need to permanently think about how to ensure that the population- -continues to have the skills demanded by the labour market. This poses additional challenges and opportunities, for persons with disabilities. It's about up-skilling and sometimes re-skilling because the job is no longer relevant.

Although we don't have good statistics on where exactly persons with- -disabilities are working, it's clear from a global perspective- -that persons with disabilities are more in jobs that are more at risk of disappearing- -or being re-designed. There's a huge need to look at that situation, and to ensure that- -persons with disabilities are benefitting from this up- and re-skilling. For those just entering the labour market, we need to ensure that persons with disabilities- -have access to digital skills, which is a key element in the future. I think there are some similarities here.

In our centenary declaration the ILO addresses, in fact all the workers- -and workers with disabilities in the same paragraph, there are some similarities there. Not only because as you know disability prevalence increases with age, so many- -older workers would have some sort of activity limitation. There are some issues there that we need to look at and perhaps combine. That was the second area: lifelong learning and skill development. The third one is universal design to be fully embedded in the infrastructure. That's nothing new. We've been pushing for that for many years-

-but it's becoming even more a need at this stage. The speed at which new products and services are developed means it does not- -take into account persons with disabilities to the possible extent. By the moment you have retrofitted that new product to be inclusive for persons- -with disabilities, a new version will already have been released. You are running behind a train, unless that train is accessible- -from the beginning.

There's a lot of hope there. Many of the leading companies in the it-sector are doing a good job in terms- -of accessible software. They realize that products that are accessible are usually better- -for everybody. This year we've seen the flourishing of platforms that we didn't even know the- -name of, that have increased exponentially. Many of them quickly included good accessible features, like the ones we're- -using here today, in terms of closed captioning- -and sign language interpreters.

The possibility of navigating through those platforms with a screen reader- -for instance. A lot of progress has been done, but still more needs to be done. On the European level it's important with a European standard that defines- -the process that organisations need to follow to ensure that once they come out- -with new products they meet the standard.

Public procurement needs to play a more active role to promote universal design. But at the same time we're seeing that there are many accessible online- -processors, that organizations and companies use, which are not accessible- -to persons with disabilities. We're seeing the flourishing of digital recruitment platforms, complementing- -the work of public employment services. If we don't ensure that the platforms are fully inclusive and accessible for- -persons with disabilities, we're creating new barriers for persons with- -disabilities to enter the labour market.

The fourth area addressed in the report was the area of assistive technologies. Existing and newly developed assistive technology needs to be made available- -and affordable for everyone. This is not a big issue in the Nordic context, but when looked at from- -a developing country perspective, which we need as ILO, there are huge- -challenges in making available and affordable very basic assistive- -technologies which we take for granted. There are huge potentials there. We see the role that AI can play in complementing the skills of persons with- -disabilities, with a lot of different applications new to the market. At the same time we're seeing recruitment software that is powered- -by AI, that claims to take away some of the human bias in the recruitment process.

In fact, it's doing the contrary. It's basically embedding elements that leads- -to the exclusion of persons with disabilities, in a more systematic way. Sometimes the software doesn't accommodate for the different way- -a person with autism or someone with a hearing impairment would interact with- -for instance a camera. So there's a huge problem there which we need to address.

But looking at it from a developed country context - the affordability- -and availability of assistive technologies is an issue. It's important there, and also for countries who support developing- -countries through developing assistance. It's important to make that a priority. To really make sure that in a developing country context the basic assistive- -technology is accessible. We also see very interesting new modalities. We have the modality of supported employment, that is often used- -as a modality for persons with intellectual disabilities.

We're seeing examples from the US on how remote support can complement... Especially in a situation where job coaches can't go to the premises- -of the company - that's a telework context. But some of the new, creative modalities will stay with us and make- -certain solutions even more sustainable and effective. So interesting things are happening in that context. But at the same time, there are concerns that if we don't make more- -effort to ensure that public support is available... But even more important- -public support to make sure that existing products reach those in need.

The fifth area addressed was measures to include persons with disabilities- -in growing and developing areas of the economy. Looking at our report, I was surprised... We had mentioned- -the digital economy in passing.

The area we addressed as a potential growth area is the green economy. In the ILO-context we call it the "Just transition from a carbon intensive"- -"economy to a low-carbon economy". Of course there are jobs lost there, but also ones created there. We need to ensure that persons with disabilities get their fair share- -of these new green jobs in the ILO-context. It's relevant, because the message from the global leaders is that the way out- -of the crisis needs to be not only digital, but also a green strategy. Let me look at the impact of covid-19 in my final five minutes.

The first reaction when covid-19 came was that we were extremely concerned. Early on clear messages came from the UN, that persons with disabilities was- -the group most impacted by the covid. Not only in the health context, but also the impact it has or could have in terms- -of employment. A clear message coming from the UN and the ILO is that we need to make sure- -that the response to the crisis needs to be a disability inclusive response. Saying at the same time that we are... The crisis caught us at a moment where- -we were a bit better prepared to ensure a disability inclusive response than we- -were 10-15 years ago.

We now have the UNCRPD, the sustainable development goals, a private sector much- -more committed and engaged. We are in a better situation than if this would have happened 15 years ago. The ILO organized a big conference in June, looking at covid-19 and work- -and digitalization as a key element as a response to the crisis was mentioned- -by every head of state.

We were reminded that even before the crisis there was a mismatch- -in many countries on digital jobs. Needs for cyber security professionals, big data analysts. Often companies struggled to find professionals in those jobs. If digitalization is the way out of the crisis - from a disability perspective- -the message is clear: How can we ensure that a significant part of the new jobs- -benefit persons with disabilities? We are seeing very small, interesting initiatives. We have a very interesting- -initiative where we are a partner in training persons with disabilities- -to become cyber security professionals. Not only in the US, but we're also implementing it in Ethiopia, Kenya- -and Bangladesh.

Very interesting initiatives, but very small. At the same time we see that many of the big initiatives - public initiatives- -global initiatives, some initiatives led by large companies, are focusing on- -youth and women. But it seems that youth doesn't include youth with disabilities, etc.

All these big initiatives seem to lack an adequate attention- -to disability inclusion. We've seen the European digital strategy, which has been designed with- -scarce references to persons with disabilities. We need to be reminded that there is a starting position for persons- -with disabilities. They have a gap of access to technology, gap in access to digital skills.

We've seen the impact that covid-19 has had in terms of exclusion from education- -and training, etc. At the same time we're seeing interesting initiatives. The mobile phone industry is about to drop in the coming days some principles- -to promote the use of mobile phones in a developing country context, as a key- -vehicle for assistive technologies. As we know, mobile phones can do things which in the past could only be done- -by separate devices. But again, we need to ensure access to that. Thank you so much. Time is actually running out.

I've been asked to thank you very much. Any final words? The big message is that we need to build back better. The building back better needs to be disability inclusive. We need to address the problems, and if we don't do that there's a huge risk- -that persons with disabilities will be among the losers of the current context. Thank you.

Thank you. Really interesting listening. I'd like to ask a question. You finished with speaking- -a little bit about the pandemic.

The pandemic has pushed the digitalization at a faster pace- -than ever before. But could we also say that it has actually speeded up when it comes to- -inclusion on the labour market? Can we see any kind of effects of that? What has happened in the last eight months? Has there been any difference? The first problem is that we lack good statistics. The statistics we've seen in the US shows an over representation of persons- -with disabilities who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. In general we have not seen a lot of statistics. Maybe you have better statistics in the Nordic countries. Our main concern is for persons with disabilities working in small media- -enterprises, and in a developing country context.

We see from the private sector and we work a lot with... We have a global disability network and we work with large global companies- -committed to disability inclusion. We see that after a certain moment, the whole issue of disability inclusion- -has picked up again. In the context of more formal employment within larger groups, I'd say that we- -might even see a re-activation of disability inclusion. I'm concerned about what's happening outside the more established area.

I want to ask you one more thing about that. One of the lessons learned from earlier economic crises is that persons- -with disabilities usually have a more difficult time after the crisis. What should be done to decrease the gap after the pandemic? Most countries are saying that we will have a vaccine in a couple of months.

What political initiatives are needed? The first thing we need to do is visiblize the situation of persons- -with disabilities. Many of our efforts have been about getting persons with disabilities into- -the labour market, which remains valid. But at the same time we need to make a huge effort to ensure that persons- -with disabilities in the labour market are not moved out of it.

We know from statistics that basically one out of four moving out from the- -labour market makes it back in the immediate future. We need to make sure that those who are in the labour market- -are not pushed out of it. It's fair to say that previous crises have had this slogan about "last to get in"- -"first to get out". We need to prevent that from happening.

In the UN-context we speak about the social economic response plans of- -governments to the crises. They need to have persons with disabilities as a priority group- -both with targeted measures, but also mainstream measures such as training- -and re-skilling. Thank you, Stefan. I think we have a question for you. I'm going to hand it over to Jessica-

-in Helsinki. Let's see if she's there. Is she available? Then I want to really thank you so much Stefan for this. It's been really, really interesting.

Now I'd like to introduce Thomas Bredgaard, who is a professor- -at the department of politics and society at Ålborg university. He's also a professor at the Carma centre for labour market research- -and at the Danish research centre on disability and employment. He will give us some insights on barriers and bridges and labour market- -integration for persons with disabilities.

Good morning! I'm really excited to share some recent findings from Denmark on a research- -project about the barriers and bridges that persons with disabilities- -experience in terms of integrating on the labour market. So I'm just sharing my slides, and I hope that you are able to see them. Last week this book came out about disability and employment: From Barriers- -to Bridges.

We have kind of a double research question. On the one hand we'd like to try and explain why persons with disabilities- -have a lower employment rate than people without disabilities. And of course there are some disabilities which are kind of- -incapacitating the individual and making it very difficult to work.

But actually, many persons with disabilities do have some capacities- -and skills, and are underrepresented on the labour market. So they do experience some barriers, and that was the main objective of this- -research, to identify these barriers. The second part of the project was about identifying bridges to- -the labour market. How do we make the labour market more inclusive so that more persons- -with disabilities are integrated on the labour market? And our research project tries to take an integrated approach in which we study- -both the supply of labor, in this case people with mobility impairments- -on the Danish labour market. But also the demand for labour. The experiences, attitudes and behaviour of- -the employers towards persons with disabilities.

And also, very importantly, the matching between demand and supply. In the Danish case it's mainly done through the local job centres- -or the public employment services. We tried taking this integrated approach and understanding how barriers exist in- -the supply and in the demand, as well as the matching. We did representative surveys, as well as interviews.

So we use a mixed methods approach to study these issues. In terms of theory we build on theories of information asymmetry and disablism. Because it's very clear that there are major information gaps- -on all three parties. I should also mention that this project was financed by the Bevica foundation- -a Danish foundation targeting people with mobility impairments.

Here you see the employment rates in Denmark, before the corona crisis. As Stefan mentioned, we have inadequate statistics to see how corona- -impacts unemployment for persons with disabilities. I share the concern that Stefan voiced, that the corona crisis might actually- -severely impact the employment of persons with disabilities. In the Danish case you find that there is a major gap between people with- -and without disabilities, and especially people with major disabilities. We have statistics for the last 10 years, or so.

The red bar shows the employment gap for people with and without disabilities. This has been almost constantly around 30 percent. From 2014 it has been declining, due to the improving business cycle in Denmark- -and also due to the major reforms made on disability policies. Especially the opportunity for persons with disabilities to work in so called- -flexible jobs, which is an example of supported employment in the Danish case.

I'll just move quickly to some of our findings from the project, and due to- -the time limit I will not be able to share a lot of figures, graphs- -and statistics. But I encourage you to look at our book, where you will find graphs- -and statistics. These are some of the barriers identified.

In terms of the relation between persons with disabilities and the labour market- -the supply side approach - it's clear that the type of disability- -is very important. In the Danish case we find that people with mental disabilities have a very low- -employment rate - about 30 percent, whereas people with mobility impairments- -have an employment rate of about 55 percent. But it's still much lower than people without disabilities. And of course, the severity of the disability is also very important. In the Danish case we've done yearly surveys, asking people about- -self-reported disability. In this, about 20 percent of the Danish population say that they have- -a disability or long-term health issue.

About 50 percent of these, 10 percent in total, say that they have- -a major disability and health issue. Another important barrier is the education system. Persons with disabilities tend to have lower levels of education. As Stefan mentioned, skills are very important in the economy, as well as- -vocational training. So persons with disabilities have these education gaps.

But we find that as persons with disabilities get higher education- -the gap declines. So education is very important. In our project we also try to identify self confidence or self efficacy. Unfortunately we found that many people with mobility impairments have lower- -self esteem than people without disabilities.

We found a clear association to lower job search and employment rates. We also found that many employers ask persons with disabilities to disclose- -their impairment already during the recruitment process. When persons with disabilities disclose their impairments, there's a high risk- -that they will be de-selected by employers. So this question of disclosure is also quite a dilemma.

We also found that job search and social networks are generally very important. But persons with disabilities are more relying on the employment services- -and the job senders. Generally employment services are a less efficient way of finding a job compared- -to social networks.

Persons with disabilities are found to have a smaller social network, and are- -less inclined to use it. At the workplace level, it's very clear in the Danish case that there is- -quite inadequate information about disability, as well as the different- -support and compensation measures which are available. But employers lack knowledge about these programs.

We also did some vignette experiments to understand how employers are inclined- -to hire or not to hire persons with disabilities. We found in this experiment that disability really disqualifies. If a person with disabilities is searching for a job and disclose they- -have an impairment, the risk is high that they will not get the job. Accessibility and job functions - many employers openly admitted that their- -workplace is not accessible and that they don't have job functions for- -persons with disabilities. I think we can challenge this idea of them not having job functions- -and encourage them to be a bit more creative.

We also found a lack of cooperation between the workplaces and the- -employment services. In Denmark we spent a lot of resources on active labour market policies- -but they are not well targeted at persons with disabilities. So in the Danish case there's quite an inadequate identification of disabled- -job seekers. There's no registration or systematic screening in the employment services.

There's a risk that persons with disabilities, especially invisible- -disabilities, are not identified by the employment services. That means that their needs are not catered to. We concluded in this book that unfortunately, there's currently- -an ability in the Danish case to match labour supply and demand. This is what you can read in this conclusion. Some job centres do a good job, but there are major variations. And many case workers in job centres are not able to identify disabled- -job seekers, and even lack confidence to find a job at times.

The other partner in the workplace prefers to employ someone without- -assistance from the employment services, and tends to discriminate. We found that it's challenging to implement the political target of the- -government to have more persons with disabilities in employment. I'll briefly mention some bridges identified in the project, in order- -to make the labour market more inclusive for persons with disabilities.

There are no quick fixes. A single thing itself can not solve- -this complex problem. So I think it's very important that we understand the barriers and bridges- -among persons with disabilities in the workplaces as well as- -in the employment services.

I think many projects could work on building self efficacy and- -self-confidence among persons with disabilities, and provide better systems- -targeted at persons with disabilities. Also legitimize disclosure, so that persons with disabilities can announce- -their disabilities when applying for jobs. In Denmark we currently have projects about showing a certificate- -when applying for a job, and announcing the compensation support you are eligible- -for as a person with disabilities. I think that can reduce some information gaps. Build better and stronger networks for workplaces.

Provide information, improve accessibility and innovate job functions- -in cooperation with the workplaces, and challenge their ideas of what types of- -jobs that persons with disabilities can work in. Coordination and co-creation between the employment services and workplace is- -also very important, and inadequate at the moment. There needs to be an identification of disability in the employment services- -in order to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are catered to- -in employment services. These support and compensation schemes are used and there needs to be more- -expert knowledge on disability in the employment services.

This is some of our main findings. Some of this is so called low hanging fruit, which can be improved so that- -more people can be part of the labour market. Thank you so much. We tend to focus on the barriers.

I was happy when you ended with the bridges. If you would look forward, the next 5-10 years, what would you say are- -the greatest possibilities in the Nordic countries for more inclusion? Do you see any possibilities ahead after the pandemic? I'm hopeful and optimistic. I've been a labour market researcher for many years, and have studied- -disabilities for the last number of years. It's of course a bit depressing seeing the statistics.

And our findings in Denmark are also a bit depressing. But I'm optimistic - we specifically need to identify these information- -barriers: the lack of information. In the Danish case we do have some good legislation and economic- -support schemes.

But we need a greater awareness and acknowledgment of the barriers- -that persons with disabilities experience when wanting to integrate- -on the labour market. It is possible to improve the employment rate for persons with disabilities. More awareness campaign is an important factor. We have a lot of questions coming in from different viewers.

I'd like to hand it over to Jessica. We have two questions for you: Do you count neuropsychiatric disorders such as Adhd into the category- -mental disorders? No, I don't. I'm sorry if I gave that impression. I wouldn't do that. Our project was specifically on people with- -mobility impairments. A question from Sweden: In Sweden a lot of people with disabilities decide to start their- -own companies to get a job.

Is there a similar pattern in Denmark? I'm not sure. Again, the statistics are quite inadequate. In the Danish case we have good experiences with social enterprises- -and persons with disabilities work in these socioeconomic enterprises, which is- -a way forward to improve the employment rate for persons with disabilities. Thank you. Keep the questions coming!

Now it's time for a short and brief break. Go and get some more water or some coffee- -and we'll be back again in 7-8 minutes. Thank you. Welcome back to this webinar where we're focusing on how to make the labour- -market more inclusive for persons with disabilities. And technology. And I hope you all had the chance to get perhaps something to drink.

Now I'd like to introduce the next speaker of this webinar: Maria Maia. She has a background in health sciences and holds a PhD on technology- -assessment. Maria works at the institution for technology assessment- -and system analysis at the Karlsruhe institute of technology.

She has in the last years been working on projects focusing on assistive- -technology for persons with disabilities. She will now tell us a bit more about the needs of perceptions of assistive- -technology for persons with disabilities. She's focusing on deafness and hearing impaired, blind and visually impaired- -and autism.

I hand over to you, Maria. Good morning! It's a pleasure. I'd like to thank you for the invitation to be here today and be able to share- -some of our project results. I will now share my screen and hopefully everything works. Ok! I'm guessing you're able to see my slides. My study as mentioned by Hanna, is on assistive technologies, but from- -a user's perspective.

In my presentation I will make a short introduction, and then provide- -some empirical insights and the needs and perceptions by persons- -with disabilities. Then I'd like to share some societal challenges that I hope will be- -interesting for further reflections on our current situation and our desire- -for the future. And then I will make some brief conclusions.

This project was a request from the European parliament. There was a lot of interest in the results. We were invited to be at the committee of employment and social affairs- -interacting with the members of the parliament. We intended many conferences presenting the results of the study. We have three main reports, which will be available in the chat, but also- -in my presentation. You will also find the links on where to find further and more detailed- -information. I will not be able to present everything to you-

-unfortunately. Some insights from the project. We did an online questionnaire at the European level and asked about- -the barriers that people face in society. It's interesting to see that they're still the same.

Communication and information barriers, followed by social barriers- -and political barriers. With regards to the regulation issue, it's connected to the implementation- -of the UN-convention, and the European accessibility act. It had to do with the regulation from the medical devices perspective, since- -much of the assistive technology used is labeled as medical devices. Therefore it's strongly connected with regulation.

It was a peer-request from the European parliament, focused only on blindness- -visual impairment, deaf and hearing impairment and ASD. Regulation was an issue because there was still lacking legislation, because- -it was considered to be a new field where technology was still being- -developed, as compared to blindness or deafness. In the connection with assistive technologies and services. We asked also about why, because in the questionnaire we realized that some- -people were using assistive technologies, and some not. We asked why. And the most important reasons pointed out were related to-

-the design and development of the technologies, which did not follow- -a universal or user-driven design. Therefore it's not accepted to be used. In relation to that: Acceptance and awareness, connected strongly- -with information on how to use and what is available in terms of- -assistive technologies. But also cultural facts, related to stigma and age.

When people become older people tend to have difficulties in learning and use- -new technologies. We also asked the participants in which field they saw the importance of using- -assistive technology. In general for the three disabilities there was a good reply. Assistive technology plays an important role.

As you see here in the yellow boxes, when it comes to schools and work... This field reinforces the importance of assistive technologies in supporting- -people in developing their tasks. One aspect that was mentioned, because in addition to the questionnaire- -we held several interviews with experts in the different fields. One core issue was the UNCRPD, in regards to reasonable accommodation- -and the importance of it as an entrance point for assistive technology.

As you see in this quote, there are a lot of simple accommodation that can be- -made to include people at the workplace. For instance, autism and assistive technologies. It's important not only to consider the technology per say, but also to consider- -some social measures, such as mentoring systems for job coaches. But also related to the construction of the office or the room where people- -will be working. With regards to light or sound, or if it's a quiet place not near the printer- -where everyone is passing.

People with ASDs tend to work better if they are in a more relaxed- -and calm environment. In a nutshell, what we saw in the project, and the main results, is that- -there is still discrimination at the recruitment phase, and it is related- -mainly to the barriers. Also, there is still a lack of knowledge from the companies' side, in relation to- -what kind of assistive technologies are available. And what kind of incentives or benefits that are related to hiring someone with- -a disability or an impairment. But this lack of knowledge is not only from the companies' side, but also- -from persons with disabilities.

There is a lack of information about the kind of technologies that are available. And also, how to use them and maintain them in the long run. In addition failure in the education system was mentioned.

A good education system is regarded as a good pre-condition for inclusion of- -persons with disabilities in the labour market. Here is a quote, from our first speaker Stefan: /READS QUOTE/ I would now like to call your attention to a reflection into the future. In the project we came up with four exploratory scenarios, regarding the- -situation of persons with disabilities, and the role of assistive technologies- -looking at the future, such as 2030. The scenarios were developed containing relevant information that emerged- -from our study.

The content of these scenarios were developed in an envisioning meeting that- -took place in the European Parliament, with not only the research team- -but also several external experts and some parliamentarians. They were discussing how these scenarios could be put into the paper, so to say. In order to guide us in these scenarios... As you can see on this axis - the openness of society towards others.

For example, people who do not conform to what is considered to be the norm. As well as the extent of technological progress, and its social embedding. These are our keys to design the scenarios in this axis.

In more detail, as you can see here, from these two yellow circles: What can happen if these two scenarios were actual reality? We have a mid-tech solution in a society, in one of these scenarios- -and another potential scenario is an intensive high-tech reliance- -in an individualistic society. What are the main characteristics of the scenarios? In the first one we live in a society that is inclusive, with a good level of- -participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. Due to the ongoing increase of age, we will have prevalence of disability as well. Ability and disability are considered a long spectrum, and there's a wide spread- -use of low and mid-tech solutions. If we go for the other scenario, what we will have is a more individualistic- -society: a self-sufficient society, where self-enhancement is common.

And where persons with disabilities are in the forefront of technology- -advancements. There's no stigma related to the use of assistive technologies- -and there's inclusion. However, it is related with the use of technology, so as long as technology- -is used, inclusion is there.

We have a high-tech environment. What are the opportunities and challenges that we need to reflect on- -in these two scenarios? In the mid-tech scenarios we have an increased market for assistive- -technologies, and maybe some measures considering disabilities will collide. Inclusion overcomes fear and rejection and the economic cost of having these- -full inclusive societies are unknown. In the intensive high-tech scenario we will have an increased high-tech- -assistive technologies market, due to demand.

We have a social embedding of technology neglected. And we have an increased risk of cyber crimes, due to the reliance- -on a network society. These scenarios are just speculative, just to make it clear. They do not want to predict the future, but it's still a good exercise. This is my invitation for reflections. They are an opportunity to explore opportunities and challenges, and to- -stimulate reflections, and communicate important issues around assistive- -technology, and it contributes to shaping a desired future.

My conclusions: The importance of putting the UN-convention into practice- -and to ensure that it's translated in each country in their own regulation. But also to supervise and assess if it's really put into practice and reinforced- - maybe via penalties, if not complied with. Technology options need a connection to the social sphere.

Here it's important to consider universal design, assistive- -technologies, sociotechnical aspects should be embedded- -when developing technologies. In terms of education I think it's really important to train persons- -with disabilities also in how to better use some technologies. But also train professionals in providing this information and advising- -which technology works best or is available on the market. Here there was also a gap identified. This training, or education, should be increased. And also the emergence of new professionals.

I think it was mentioned earlier - new professions connected to the development- -of digitalization and artificial intelligence will be created. So it's important to see how this education can be supported. In terms of employment we need to pay special attention to create a disability- -friendly labour market that needs more support. A lack of information was also identified, so this information needs to- -be better disseminated.

And awareness - we still have high attitudinal barriers in the society. When we did the study it was meant for us to come up with what kind of- -technologies people are expecting to have a bigger role in the future. Our project showed that persons with disabilities are not so keen to have- -high hype high-tech technologies, but rather focus on society and awareness. In the end this was the key message of the project: We have to start changing- -mentalities in society and raising awareness of the importance of inclusion- -in society.

Not only regarding persons with disabilities, but also other kinds to- -broaden up the inclusive society. This is of really high importance and should be the first stage to reflect- -upon in the employment sector. -Thank you very much and for sharing the important conclusions. As a human right's lawyer, I'm happy when you talk about legislation. What we need to see is practical implementation of the UNCRPD. I'd like to ask you that actually. Could you give me an example where assistive-

-technology has made a difference? -It was really interesting for me to reflect... It was also an example given by one expert, who had autism. He mentioned the use of virtual reality or augmented reality in a new position.

For someone with autism it would be useful and it's already being used. For instance to have augmented reality in combination with virtual reality- -where they have these virtual glasses. Before going into a real life experience, they can practice it like a- -game. They can practice social interactions and tasks. This was really interesting to see. -Thank you.

-Also, in relation with artificial intelligence - so this is also really- -interesting to see. -Very interesting. Please continue asking questions in the chat. You can address it specifically to the speaker or in public. I have some questions coming for you. I'm going to ask Jessica from Helsinki to join us. Hi, Jessica! -Hello! We have a couple of questions for Maria.

What are the most important areas where we need more research on assistive- -technology and employment? -We made a study at the European level, and because of limited resources and- -time to present the project we focused on four countries: Portugal, Hungary- -Sweden and Germany. But the lack of data is replicable for many of the other countries. More studies need to be conducted on the national level, focusing on these- -aspects. The aspects of persons with disabilities in work, but also in relation to some- -normal life aspects and education and so on. It will also be important to not only have focused projects and research, but- -also to push this data to come out of the national census.

For instance, in Portugal it's done every ten years to the population, but- -few questions are related to disabilities. That's really important, and it's also important that it's conducted in other- -countries. -We only have time for one more question, Jessica.

-Do you know if someone has explored assistive technologies from the- -viewpoint of data protection law, such as cloud based automatic captioning? -No, we didn't focus on that aspect in the project. But it's a really important issue, and a good idea for further research. -Thank you so much, Maria! -Thank you! -Now I'd like to introduce Jan Gulliksen and Stefan Johansson, who have made a- -compilation on the existing research on digital and technological solutions to- -increase inclusion in the working life. Jan is a professor in human computer interaction at KTH. Hi, Jan!

He is also the vice president for the digitalization of KTH. He has been the chairman of the Swedish committee of digitalization, belonging- -to the ministry of enterprise. Today Jan is a member of the digitalization council. And we also have Stefan with us - hi, Stefan! Stefan has a PhD in human computer interaction at KTH, and is the CEO of- -Begripsam.

His research focuses on participation in the digital society. I'm going to hand it over to you! -Thank you very much, and thank you for the opportunity of talking about our- -project here at this wonderful conference. I'm also very happy that it's digital, because that means that we get much more- -participants than if it had been a physical conference. Thank you for the excellent introduction- and finally to the Nordic Welfare Centre for giving us the opportunity to talk- -about this project and giving us the opportunity to see what research exists- -in the field of digital technologies to help people get employment, or maintain- -one. As a member of the digitalization council I see that this is of great- -interest for the Swedish government to know these things. They truly live and share the view that the inclusion of as many people as- -possible in the labour market is of utmost importance.

They follow this with great interest. I'm also grateful to Begripsam, and I will now hand over to Stefan to present- -the major results of the study. Over to you, Stefan! -Thank you. Is my presentation broadcasted now? Ok. This is a study on what the contemporary knowledge of this area is. We have sort of looked if there is research or evidence that technology- -actually help people to get a job or to keep it. We have an ongoing innovation project, and looked at the trends in technology- -and tried to analyze the project, and hopefully propose some potential ways- -forward.

There is a lot of technology developed, and it's targeting different kind of- -impairments. We see that researchers and persons with disabilities are engaged in- -developing technology, which could potentially provide some improvements in- -life. But we can't find that many examples of that kind of technology being- -implemented specifically in the workplace. There's something missing between the developed technology and the- -implementation of it in a workplace setting. We can find more examples of things going on in health care or domestic- -settings.

There is technology, but there's not that much new technology introduced in- -the workplace. The technology that people use as assistive technology in the workplace is- -often quite old. It's still working, so it's nothing wrong with that - but not much- -new technology is introduced. We have some good examples where this essentially has happened - so we can- -report on some technology finding its way into the workplace setting. But there's a clear potential to bring more interesting solutions into the- -workplace.

The evidence that it's working is found by practitioners rather than research. There is not that much research looking for evidence that technology actually- -works, but people in the field say technology works. We have to believe them. When we find research on disability and the workplace, you can often see that- -there has been some technology used, but it's usually a background noise in- -the research.

Because the primary research question is often about organization, support- -systems or training or something like that. You can see technology mentioned in the report, but not in that detail, so- -you can't really see what technology was used in a specific research project, or- -how that technology actually provided for a positive outcome. Because there could have been other things that provided this positive- -outcome. So it's hard to really distinguish what role technology plays in other research- -projects. We can clearly see that people have used some technology, and you can see in the- -report that the reporting worked well, but with no details on what they did and- -what technology they used. We can't find that much statistics on exactly what kind of technology is used- -and in what setting.

In this area there is a lack of statistics. We don't have enough data. Assistive technology as such is changing, it's not only stand alone- -solutions anymore. Before you could buy a product and implement it in the workplace setting- -but nowadays it could be embedded in the operative system which everyone uses. It could also be embedded in functions in mainstream products. A lot of earlier assistive technology finding its way into the function of- -mainstream products. That's good but it can prevent people from using the technology.

And assistive technology is being used more and more in mainstream products. It could be bought anywhere, by anyone, and then it's no longer defined as- -assistive technology. That also changed the way people provide assistive technology. Because if they can't get paid for providing a product, they will not get- -information and support on how to use it. We can see that when technology is possible to use anywhere, at any time- -it's more easy to combine it with a silo based system of assistive technology.

There's perhaps a need for a modernization of the system to provide- -people with assistive technology. We have identified technological areas where interesting stuff is going on. People are trying to use different kinds of technology to provide support for- -persons with disabilities. We have a promising area of artificial intelligence, AI - you can imagine that- -there will be a lot of AI embedded in assistive technology in the future. We can't find that many examples today, but there are some. We can see that people are starting to use different kinds of applications in- -smart devices.

They found the supportive or assistive technology and downloaded it directly in- -the device and started using it. Sometimes the only person who knows that they have assistive technology in the- -device is the person using it. The colleague might not know it. Cloud based solutions is an interesting area. There could be some data protection issues using it, but there is potential- -in that technology to provide support. Collaboration technologies have been in focus now, during covid-19.

We need to collaborate by using digital tools, and there have been some fast- -improvements on accessibility in those kinds of environments. Those relate to communication technology that has been around for a long time- -but it's intertwined. Many of these technologies are in fact intertwined with each other. You can see a lot of technology related to the environment around you; different- -kinds of devices that could be used to create control of other devices or the- -surrounding environment. There's a lot of research going on on robotics and exoskeletons and that kind- -of technology, providing for increased mobility, for example. We can see some potential gains in using augmented reality or virtual reality- -that clearly is a promising area.

But we can't find that many applications of it in the workplace today - it is an- -area that might grow in the future. You can also see haptic interfaces, the sort of interfaces in the air, where you- -can interact with technology with your hands or something like that. Hearing technology has improved a lot in later years, and also language and- -speech technology is improving fast. Recruitment technology is both a potential new barrier and a new risk. You can see some developments where countries claim they are inclusive when- -using AI software in the recruitment technology. You can also see an area called wearables, where you have technology on- -your clothes, or carrying it around with you in textiles and other fabrics.

There are a lot of technological areas that could be used, and a lot of- -research going on in these areas. But the implementation in the workplace setting is still lacking. Just to say something about the potential ways forward... There was more cooperation earlier. Something happened 15-20 years ago, and- -the Nordic countries closed specialized institutions that worked with assistive- -technology, and moved to a more market oriented model.

We think that we have to rebuild and re-establish the possibility to- -cooperate. Perhaps the market can't drive this development on its own, so there needs- -to be cooperation between the public sector and the market. There seems to have been better opportunities to do that 15-20 years- -ago. We think we have to move back to a more collaborative system. That correlates with the lack of... Because what was on the agenda then was- -more stable funding systems, to take a product or idea to the market.

You had funding systems in some Nordic countries that could help people take a- -product and introduce it to the market. Nowadays we can't really find that system. We have a lot of research that fixes the problem, but it doesn't take the product- -to the market - there needs to be other people doing that. We need to look at other areas and potentially bring solutions that are- -working on other areas to the workplace setting, and introduce it there. That could be done through published best practice and shared knowledge. There's a lack of knowledge in this area, so if someone has invented- -something that seems to work, we should spread that information around so others- -can implement the solution in their workplace settings.

And maybe we need to look at the rules, regulations and systems, and provide a- -wider definition of what assistive technology actually is. The model for providing assistive technology needs to realize that the- -products could be cheaper or free, but the need for information, training and- -support is still around. It hasn't gone away. When technology is cheaper, the cost for support and- -training might actually rise.

And that is not really included in the business model of the companies- -providing assistive technology. They find it hard to give people the amount of support and training often- -needed to use the technology efficiently. That sort of calls for looking at the business model of providing this kind of- -technology. Then there's clearly a need for more research. We need broader research programs.

Many research projects in this area are small and limited, so maybe we need- -to combine smaller projects into broader programs working on longer terms, to get- -the data and know what's working and not working. That has to be done in multiple disciplines working together. We also probably need more focus on the implementation part here. There's a lot of technology, as I've said, but how to implement it in the- -workplace setting.

We need to have an open mind and allow for experiments and create better- -statistics on what's actually going on. That is our main taking from our work. -What has surprised you most, when doing this compilation? What has surprised you most in your findings? -Well,

2021-02-07 03:15

Show Video

Other news