Wilson Macharia, a lawyer, has encouraged employers to shun stereotypes when hiring to accommodate persons living with disability in their workforce in Kenya.
He says employers should change their attitudes and use existing systems to make the working environment comfortable for the disabled.
“The pre-existing attitudes that employees have about persons with disability lead to stereotyping, which eventually makes employers fail to give the job to a person with the right skillset due to their condition,” he said.
Macharia encouraged employers to ask employees with disability how best they feel they can fit into the organisation.
“It’s about how the existing systems will accommodate persons with disability. It’s not about creating new systems,” he said.
The lawyer, who is visually impaired, said employers should stop discriminating against persons living with disability during job interviews.
He narrated his own ordeal about a company that had offered him an employment opportunity, only to turn him down on the basis of his disability.
“When I went to sign my contract, they told me there must have been a mistake and the company did not know I was disabled,” he said.
“This made no sense to me because I had attended my interviews with a guide. I had company employees helping me move around and had indicated that I was visually impaired in my CV.”
Macharia also called for inclusiveness and accessibility in the workspace for the sake of the future.
“Some 70 per cent of persons with disability have acquired them as adults. We should begin working on more accessibility because we don’t know what lies in the future,” he said.
The law states that at least five per cent of employees in any institution should be persons with disability.
Eliud Kinyua, human resource manager at Alive and Kicking Kenya, said employers can make basic adjustments in systems to include persons with disability.
“We have trained our supervisors and employees on basic sign language so they are able to communicate with everyone,” he said.
“We have also employed helpers and interpreters to facilitate the accommodation of all our employees.”
Kinyua, whose company makes sports balls, says six per cent of their employees live with disability.
Persons living with disability have been encouraged to actively apply for advertised job opportunities.
Jurgen Menze, a disability inclusion officer from the International Labour Organisation, said like other employees, persons with disability need to be hired based on skill.
“The key is not to hire persons with disability to be nice. They need to have the right skills for the job market,” he said. (The star)