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Disabled people for integration?

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During the 'National Disability Week,’ arranged by APF (Association paralysés de France' the subject of integration of disabled people in the work place was high on the agenda.

Jean- Christophe Parisot, a new ministerial delegate in the ministry of Employment and Disability Integration, is the first disabled person (a tetraplegic due to myopathy) to become a political scientist and has at hand the figures relating to the number of disabled people employed by the ministry. Of the 40,000 disabled people employed, 22,000 are teachers, making Education the highest employer of disabled people in France. The figures correspond to 3.17% of disabled people, whereas the law passed 11 February 2005 proposed 6%.

M. Parisot says his mission is to fuel the sensitization and mobilisation of the administration regarding the question of disablement. National Education can be exemplary, showing pupils that disability need not be a barrier to employment. He was also encouraged with the creation of 200 teaching posts for disabled teachers.

M. Parisot stood as a candidate in the first round of the Presidential elections but did not receive the necessary 500 signatures; his regret is that the question of disability has not found its rightful place in the Presidential election debate.

The ‘National Disability Week’ had the theme of ‘No to discrimination, Yes to difference,’ highlighting the discriminations faced by disabled people in everyday life and the raising of funds intended to help the five million disabled people in France; two million of whom have a physical disability.

The discriminations faced by disabled people are to leisure activities, access to public places, access to schools, difficulty in finding employment, in finding housing and bank loans. Disability is one of the principal causes of discrimination in France.

A Market Research Survey carried out in 2006 by Ifop, at the request of l’Association des paralyses de France, found that amongst a survey of nearly 1000 people of 15 years and over, a third estimated their disability would be easier to bear if the ideas of able bodied people were different.

Astonishingly 81% of French people believe that disabled people cannot live alone, 72% believe they need assistance, 87% that living with a disabled person ‘requires courage,’ and 61% that disabled people do not have a sexual life.

It is apparent from the survey that French people don’t know how to behave around disabled people, 69% did not feel they could have a spontaneous face to face conversation with a disabled person and 57% felt they could only speak to the carer; a situation which makes life extremely difficult for the disabled person themselves.

- by Coral Luke

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