Mon, Feb 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Parents criticize services for disabled young people

WILLING AND ABLE:More than 78,000 people in Taipei are registered as having a disability, but only 799 work placements are available in community workshops

By Chang Kai-hsiang and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Taipei City Government’s employment programs, vocational counseling services and care centers for young people with disabilities are underserved, disability rights advocated and parents said.

The city government’s employment programs for disabled people are primarily sponsored by the Department of Labor and the Department of Social Welfare’s Foreign and Disabled Labor Office, with “shelter factories” offering 550 jobs and community workshops offering 249 jobs.

The 799 jobs are inadequate for the 78,917 Taipei residents registered as having moderate or severe disabilities, critics said.

For people with disabilities, unemployment often leads to the erosion of learned skills, permanent unemployment and becoming a burden to their family, Wensheng School of Special Education’s vocational counseling director Lin Chia-hung (林家弘) said.

Parents’ Coalition for the Morning Glory Movement in November last year petitioned the city government to open more shelter factories, community workshops and care centers for disabled people with vocational training, coalition spokesman Lin Chi-te (林基德) said.

“Doing anything is better for the kids than leaving them at home to regress,” Lin said.

Soochow University associate professor Chou Yi-chun (周怡君) said the city government’s subsidies for shelter factories are inadequate in incentivizing risk-conscious entrepreneurs, while city vocational guidance counselors often imposed unrealistically high standards that excluded people who were able and willing to work from employment.

According to the Parents Association of the Wensheng School of Special Education, at least half of all youths with disabilities who completed vocational training at special educational schools are unemployed.

The Department of Social Welfare has failed to coordinate employment programs for people with disabilities for years, association director Ho Chiu-hsia (何秋霞) said.

Many parents see their children turned away from shelter factories, community workshops or care centers for trivial reasons, Ho said.

Parents reported a community workshop manager who refused to employ a person in wheelchair, saying the wheelchair “took up too much space,” Ho said.

Being a dependent at a care center is degrading, Independent Living Association director-general Lin Chun-chieh (林君潔) said, calling the conditions at government centers “zoo-like” and “inhumane.”

Taiwan needs to change its paternalistic tendency toward people with physical disabilities, as most people are capable of living a full life if they have the appropriate equipment and facilities, she said, adding that she had no difficulties driving or skiing in a wheelchair in Japan.

“People with disabilities are just people,” Lin Chun-chieh said.

Foreign and Disabled Labor Office director Chien Ming-shan (簡明山) said his office has implement oversight and regulations for its shelter factory program and that reported abuses are likely to have occurred while it was under the control of the Department of Social Welfare.

The department said Chien’s remarks were unfounded and that all participants in the community workshop program follow the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s guidelines.

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