A special unit for disabled persons will be opened at the Ministry of Manpower and Labour Relations at its Employment Division at Battaramulla to mark the International Day for Disabled Persons that falls on December 3. `We intend to promote employment, self-employment, and undertake career guidance for the benefit of disabled persons.
We are happy that the Minister for Skills Development has agreed to provide training for those who require different skills,` said Secretary, Ministry of Manpower and Labour Relations M. Madihewa. The Secretary was speaking at the launch of six movies on disabled persons produced by the Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) to create awareness among such persons to secure employment.
Handicap International, a Non Governmental Organisation helped produce the movies for the EFC. He said a coherent policy was needed for the State and private sector to provide employment for those afflicted with disabilities. `We need to ensure decent work for all persons with disabilities and need the co-operation of everyone. The achievements of disabled persons should be honoured,` he said.
He said disabled persons require State education, vocational training, employment and business development opportunities. `I have advised my staff to build access ramps and parking zones for disabled persons, in accordance with Article 9 of the of UN Constitution.`
Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare Mrs. V. Jegarasaingham said they had been striving since 1995 to set up a Secretariat for persons with disabilities. Although the Bill was passed in 1996 the regulations were enacted in 2007.
Citing an example, she said a person with a hearing impairment had not realised the announcements being made on the change of time at the Fort Railway station.
After boarding the wrong train he ended up at Kalutara instead of Gampaha. We have briefed the railway authorities to display signboards for the deaf and to have Braille letters for visually handicapped persons at Railway stations.
In Japan any disabled person can travel in a train without anybody`s assistance, she said.
Meanwhile, a National Council has been set up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to address issues relating to disabled persons.
The Council is expected to meet in Parliament on November 21 to discuss important issues along with Secretaries of Ministries.
The Employers Federations Director General Ravi Peiris said that initiatives made during the past few years had helped disabled persons to secure employment.
`The EFC believes that no segment of the society should be marginalised from the mainstream of economic life.` He said disabled persons should be encouraged by families to find employment without any inhibition.
Handicapped International which operated since the early nineties has responded to the needs of persons with disabilities.
According to a survey conducted by the Employers Federation of Ceylon during the past few years, disabled persons contributed immensely to productivity as much as any average worker. A list compiled by the Employers Federation of Sri Lanka has 32 companies listed in Sri Lanka that employs disabled persons.