SourceAmerica and WITSA Announce Policy Recommendations to Narrow the Gap in Employment for Persons with Disabilities
VIENNA, VA - SourceAmerica, a leading source of job opportunities and choices for individuals with disabilities, and the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) published a policy statement to address the social and economic imperatives of employment of persons with disabilities and lay out a roadmap for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry to grow as leaders in supporting the employment of persons with disabilities. The paper is titled "ICT Leadership in Inclusive Employment of Persons with Disabilities: An Economic and Social Imperative."
"At SourceAmerica, we view this as an important and promising first step toward creating an Inclusion Economy – one where people of all abilities have a choice of careers and are celebrated for their unique and valuable contributions to the workforce," said Steven Krotonsky, Chief Operating Officer for SourceAmerica. "With these policy recommendations in hand, now is the time to move forward together to bring about real change. This change isn't just about creating new jobs; it's about creating meaningful, long-term careers for people with disabilities, and we look forward to continuing our work with WITSA toward this important goal."
Of the 7.8 billion people worldwide, nearly 1 in 6 are persons with disabilities, a group disproportionately underrepresented in the economy. Worldwide, persons with disabilities face barriers to economic and social participation, including employment. Advancements in accessible and assistive technologies are critical and must expand to cover the broad diversity of disability. Economically, it is estimated that countries forgo up to 7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to the exclusion of persons with disabilities. Employing persons with disabilities represents a significant return on investment for industry.
"Companies that actively hire individuals with disabilities position themselves to engage a diverse talent pool and reach a larger market by developing products and services for a growing segment of the population," said WITSA Secretary General Dr. Jim Poisant. "The ICT industry has an opportunity to take a leadership role in increasing the employment of people with disabilities in the ICT industry, setting an example that could catalyze other sectors to include persons with disabilities, encouraging large-scale economic and societal benefit across the world."
"Having been at the intersection of technology and human rights throughout my career, I have witnessed the transformative power of innovation," remarked H.E. Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga. Chiriboga was a principal in the formation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which includes calls to enable independence and participation through access to ICT and the right to work on an equal basis with others. "But accessible products and services are not enough. They must serve as a bridge to inclusion in the workforce. Only then can we confront longstanding economic and social inequalities experienced by persons with disabilities."
Technology advancements are insufficient by themselves to bridge socioeconomic marginalization experienced by persons with disabilities worldwide and by themselves have the potential to widen the digital, economic and social divide between persons with and without disabilities. As discussions take place on how to increase access to ICT worldwide, WITSA and SourceAmerica support a strategic focus on actionable outcomes that narrow the gap in employment for persons with disabilities. The policy recommendations outlined in the paper are intended to achieve the desired outcomes by supporting greater access to employment opportunities, technology, education and workforce development.
Employment: All industry sectors need to promote policies and practices that improve efforts to include people with disabilities within their workforce.
Training: Governments and industry must adopt policies and programs that raise awareness about creating a barrier-free digital environment.
Education: Governments and industry must adopt policies and programs that advance the acquisition of ICT-related skills for persons with disabilities of all ages through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning in educational programs for youth, continuing education for adults and apprenticeship models.
Improved Data Collection: Worldwide, there must be a greater emphasis on the collection of reliable data to fully understand the prevalence and employment of persons with disabilities.
The full policy paper can be found on the WITSA website at the following link:
Established in 1974, SourceAmerica creates job opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce of people with significant disabilities. SourceAmerica is the vital link between the federal government and private sector organizations that procure the products and services provided by this exceptional workforce via a network of more than 750 community-based nonprofits. Headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, SourceAmerica provides its nonprofit agency network with business development, contract management, legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful nonprofit management. Visit sourceamerica.org to learn more, or follow us on Facebook (@SourceAmerica), Twitter (@SourceAmerica) and LinkedIn (@SourceAmerica).
The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is the leading recognized international voice of the global ICT industry, whose members from over 80 countries and economies represent more than 90 percent of the world ICT market. WITSA is dedicated to advocating policies that advance industry growth and development; facilitating international trade and investment in ICT products and services; strengthening WITSA’s national industry associations; and providing members with a broad network of professional contacts.
WITSA members are leaders in a globally interconnected marketplace. Because the challenges facing the ICT industry are undisputedly global in nature, WITSA members work together to achieve a shared vision on important issues of common interest. WITSA makes it possible for its members — ranging from Mongolia and Argentina to Kenya and the United States — to identify common issues and priorities, exchange valuable information, and present a united position on industry issues. For more information on WITSA, please visit www.witsa.org.