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I-drive Disability News Updates: Technology creates “employment lifeline” for disabled people

New technology can help disabled people take up employment and integrate into the 21st century workplace, says Barbara Otto.

Otto is the principal of Think Beyond the Label, a private-public collaborative venture based in the US that improves recruitment opportunities for qualified job candidates with disabilities.

In a column she wrote for BBC News last week (14 September), she explained how promising specialist technologies will help people with a disability pursue employment opportunities where perhaps they might not have previously been able to.

She highlights touchscreen devices like the iPhone, which now offers “gesture” based technology making it accessible for blind users. Then there’s Siri, the personal assistant app that translates voice into text and can follow basic commands and questions.

But rather than just being advantageous to disabled people, Otto explains how this also helps the general workplace.

“People with disabilities are creative problem-solvers and technology adopters with fresh perspectives that organisations need,” she writes.

“Hiring people with disabilities enhances employee retention and engagement, as there are many job candidates with or without disabilities who want to work in holistically-diverse and socially conscious environments.

“We’ve found they have low rates of absenteeism and turnover, which reduces a company’s recruitment and retention costs.”

According to Otto, disabled people are incredible adopters of technology because they depend on it for their livelihood. And with new technologies on the horizon, she believes we could be tapping into a hugely underused talent pool.

In other news, Sainsbury’s has announced it will invest £1 million over four years to get more disabled children in school playing sport.

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