York project that improves employment for disabled persons earns award

A York University-led project that helps people with disabilities participate in the workforce in Bangladesh, India and Nepal has earned the honour of a prestigious award that recognizes innovative practices improving the lives of persons with disabilities.

Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) was selected as one of the recipients of the Zero Project Innovative Practice 2017 Award for its work on the DRPI AWARE project, and supports the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

DRPI is a collaborative five-year project to establish a comprehensive, sustainable international system to monitor human rights of people with disabilities and is co-directed by Marcia Rioux, a York University Distinguished Research professor in Critical Disability Studies, and an Order of Canada recipient.

DRPI AWARE works with organizations of disabled persons that collaborate with employers to recognize the skills of disabled workers, instead of focusing on their disabilities and limitations. DRPI AWARE successfully placed 163 people with disabilities in jobs in the open labour market between 2013 and 2016.

Marcia Rioux

Rioux and her colleagues were honoured for their work during the Zero Project conference, which was held in February in Vienna, Austria. They were among 68 innovative practices and policies selected by Zero Project as being the most outstanding in the world, and were selected from 260 nominees. Rioux attended the event, and gave a presentation on DRPI AWARE.

“This recognition at an international level is a testament to the commitment and hard work each team member has exhibited towards increasing employment for people with disabilities over the past four years of the DRPI AWARE project,” said Rioux. “Our project has stirred up the status quo and removed barriers to employment, and created networks with employers resulting in many people with disabilities acquiring long lasting jobs in each of the three city.  We are paving pathways for repeat hiring by employers who have witnessed first-hand that people with disabilities can work, and their businesses are more successful when people with different abilities are included in their workforce.”

Contributing to the project’s success, said Rioux, are:  Swadhikaar, NFDN, BPKS, Subhi Association, Sean Wiltshire, Monica Ackermann, and other individuals who have provided contributions here in Canada, as well as the project’s Work Placement Coordinators, and the Country Coordinators: Sreedhar Ganta in Hyderabad; Sagar Prasain and Bishal Dahal in Kathmandu; and Mayeen Ahmed in Dhaka.

More information on the DRPI AWARE project can be found on the DRPI website at drpi.research.yorku.ca/asia-pacific/drpi-aware. More information on the Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, an Austrian charitable foundation and NGO associated with the United Nations, can be found on this website zeroproject.org/about-us/mission-statement.

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