Do You Know Everything about Employment of People with Visual Impairments?

Ambassador Andrew Schapiro and U.S. Embassy's Political Officer Alex Barrasso at the opening of conference on integration of people with visual impairments into the workforce. (photo U.S. Embassy Prague)

On Monday, November 9, Ambassador Andrew Schapiro opened a conference on integration of people with visual impairments into the workforce through the use of modern technologies.

“This conference demonstrates how private companies, government offices, NGOs, and even embassies like mine can include people with various special needs in the workforce. This process not only promotes greater diversity but expands the benefits derived from including participants who bring extraordinary skills and unique perspectives.”

The conference was organized by Světluška (“Firefly”), Czech Radio Foundation and Raná péče EDA in close cooperation with Apple Czech Republic and IBM Czech Republic and under the auspices of the US Embassy Prague.

The conference, entitled “Do You Know Everything About Employment of People With Visual Impairments?” drew about 30 representatives of private companies. Guests were greeted by Ambassador Schapiro, Petra Mžourková, Director of Raná péče EDA, and Přemysl Filip, Director of Světluška Foundation.

During the first session, Pavel Ptáčník, Head of the Government Council for Persons with Disabilities, presented the legal framework of employment of people with disabilities and provided HR representatives with a number of tips on how to integrate people with specific needs into their work teams.

During the second session, Apple Accessibility Experts Daniel Rubio and Karel Giebisch, both visually impaired, showed how they use modern technologies in everyday situations and at work, emphasizing that people with visual impairments are fully capable of using electronic devices, creating presentations, editing videos and taking pictures.

The third session featured two representatives of IBM. HR Manager Štěpán Lukeš spoke about the benefits of having diverse teams and his colleague Zdeněk Barlok, visually impaired sales representative, fluent in five languages, talked about his work experience and his journey to a full-time and well-paid position at IBM.

The last presentation was an orientation by Petr Mára, Apple Certified Trainer and Apple Distinguished Educator, who acquainted the audience with the way today’s electronic devices are equipped with technologies that enable easy navigation and many useful apps for people with visual impairments and other disabilities.

We were happy to hear that many people felt inspired by a number of positive personal stories of our speakers. We hope that, in the long run, events like this one will help to integrate more people with disabilities into the workforce.