Employer Forum for more inclusion in the workplace

April 1, 2011

Brussels, 29 March – Disabled people are two to three times more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled persons according to the European Disability Forum. A startling fact when one considers that over 80 million EU citizens have a disability, with the majority of those of working age being totally excluded from the workforce. Today, Microsoft and the European Alliance on Skills for Employability host the Employer Forum on Accessibility in the Workplace, a forum for employers, EU politicians and advocacy groups to identify opportunities, barriers and best practices for people with disabilities in the workforce.







This Forum discusses ways to make political will become reality. And we are seeing momentum. Accessibility in the workplace plays an essential role in integrating people with disabilities economically and socially and thereby boosting Europe’s competitiveness. The European Union has now laid the foundation for significant improvements to the employability of persons with disability. The Europe 2020 strategy calls for smart and inclusive growth for greater employment, productivity and social cohesion. Furthermore Europe’s Digital Agenda specifically identifies as a priority, the role of ICT and e-accessibility to improve employment opportunities for people with disability. And the Commission is working on a 'European Accessibility Act' for 2012.

The European Alliance on Skills for Employability firmly believes that a diverse workforce benefits customers and employees and drives profits. Commenting as Chair of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability, Sylvie Laffarge, Director of European Community Affairs at Microsoft said “Accessibility is key to creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce in Europe and clearly builds value for companies. The corporate partners of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability are committed to working towards this and ensuring it remains at the heart of what we do. It simply makes sense!”

During the event Microsoft launched its European Accessibility Tools & Training campaign. Part of the campaign are Accessibility Guides for Businesses and Organizations, as well as for Government Organizations, and accessibility development training resources for technology products, services and web sites that are more accessible to people with disabilities.
Main conclusions gathered from the “Accessibility Guide for Companies”, presented in January 2010 to the European Parliament by Adecco Foundation and the Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad, are made available to employers to show how to achieve accessibility to/from and in the workplace.

Speakers at the Employer Forum on Accessibility in the Workplace included MEP Adam Kosa who leads the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and Caroline Casey, Founding CEO of NGO Kanchi and the O2 Ability Awards, which are designed to accelerate change in the workplace and how employers think about disability.

The event was attended by more than 50 people among which governmental representatives and 3 MEPs, large corporations (Dell, Sodexo, Telefonica, Liberty Global), ICT associations (EeSA, Digital Europe, Austrian Computer Society) and key NGOs (Foundation ONCE, AbilityNet, European Disability Forum, etc.).

Attached file: /upload/EA_Accessibility_PressRelease_Final