Saturday

10th Dec 2016

Focus

Reach out to blind people, expert tells employment services

First, the figures. There are some 30 million blind and partially sighted people in Europe, according to the European Blind Union (EBU), an umbrella organisation. Of them, some three quarters do not have a job.

According to a series of recent studies, more than half of them do not bother applying, even though many of them would like to work.

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"Research suggests there is an indeterminable proportion who would like to have a job, but do nothing to get one," Fred Reid, co-author of the studies, told EUobserver.

"When asked, they say things like 'I don't know how to set about it,' or 'My sight is too bad'," he added.

The studies - called The Hidden Majority and commissioned by the EBU - look at individual member states one at a time.

The latest, on France, was published earlier this month and is the seventh in a row after Germany, Sweden, Romania, the Netherlands, Poland and Austria.

But already in 2009, when the authors began working, were they able to make an EU-wide assumption.

"There is evidence to support the hypothesis of a significant rate of involuntary economic inactivity [of blind and partially sighted people] in every member state of the EU," they said at the time.

The reasons are manifold, noted Reid.

"There is a very large prejudice among employers. And there are additional impairments [when people grow old]," he said.

Perhaps most to blame are public sector employment bureaus, whom he accused of "very poor data keeping" and "extraordinary complacency."

"[They] don’t actively reach out to find out if these people would like work or not," he said.

"Our argument is that they ought to reach out," he added.

EU asylum return focus expands police scrutiny

EU interior ministers agreed to start legislative talks with the EU parliament to expand the scope of an asylum database, Eurodac, to include migrants and stateless people.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Brexit picture starts to emerge

The week in Westminster and Brussels highlight the difficulty Theresa May faces in trying to keep control of the Brexit timetable.

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