Monday, March 3, 2008

The work of Apeirons | providing e-skills and employability programs for disabled people the Latvian way

On Monday, I had the opportunity to visit Apeirons and learn about the work this organization is doing on the area of e-skills training and employability for disabled people. Although this connection between e-skills and employment is the focus of this research, it is not possible to discuss this connection without understanding the broad range of activities that organizations like Apeirons do to integrate into society people with physical disabilities.

As I mentioned, Apeirons has a range of programs but there are three that are particularly relevant to the area of employability:
  1. The organization provides e-skills training (basic and advanced) in their location here in Riga, but it also reaches smaller cities and rural population through its Mobile Classroom that was donated by HP.
  2. Apeirons is an official certifier for accessibility standards in offices, buildings, etc. The government recently enacted a mandate for all new buildings in the country to be accessible for disabled people and the organization works with architects to certified these accessibility standards. It also works with other NGOs to help them improve and adapt physical spaces to make them accessible.
  3. The organization developed an innovative online data base for people looking for employment where job-seekers and employers have the opportunity to learn about each other. A very interesting component of this data base is the use of video clips of the job seekers where people with disabilities introduce themselves, their interests, and disclose to employers the type of disability they have.

Similar to what we learned with the Foundation Supporting Mathematicians and IT Specialists in Poland, e-inclusion and e-skills programs for disabled people that incorporate employability goals work with an integrated approach that allows the organization to provide needed skills, improve access and work conditions making job spaces more adequate for the needs of disabled people, and connect job-seekers with employers. Once again, an integrated approach is the way to go.

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