2006 Conference General Sessions

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THE EMPLOYABILITY SERVICES FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE AND AT IN THE WORKPLACE, SWEDEN

Presenter(s)
Lena Sberg
Arbetsfdlingen Sweden
Skepparegatan 7
Sundsvall Vernorrland 85122
Country: Sweden
Day Phone: +4660187852
Fax: +46187919
Email: lena.soderberg@lany.amv.se


This paper gives a description on how the vocationally oriented services offered by the Employment Offices with special resources for Visually Impaired is organized in Sweden.   

This paper gives a description on how the vocationally oriented services offered by the Employment Offices with special resources for Visually Impaired is organized in Sweden. A short summery on a ongoing project that aims to try out the use of web conferencing and net meeting in order to increase the availability to the services will be included. The use of AT in different workplaces is high and a study on the use of the voice recognition program ?Voice Xpress? in combination with the magnification programs Zoomtext and Lunar/Supernova will be presented.

National Labour Market Board
The central authority for the Swedish Labour Market Administration is the National Labour Market Board. In each of Sweden's 21 counties there is a County Labour Board to which the Public Employment Services are responsible.
The Swedish Labour Market Administration has the task of translating Swedish labour market policy into practice.
? To fill vacancies - Ensure that vacancies are filled rapidly and that jobseekers quickly find suitable word.
? To prepare the individual - Make it easier for people wishing to work to enter the employment sector and find the right job.
? To stimulate demand - Supplement and influence labour demand, so that work will be available in the right place, at the right time and for the right person.
? To prevent redundancy and exclusion - Prevent redundancy and permanent exclusion and facilitate the return of unemployed persons to work, e.g. by selling Working-Life Services to employers and to Social Insurance Offices.

Special measures for people with functional disability/impairment
? Wage subsidy -  A governmental financial support that covers parts of the employers cost for employees with reduced working ability. The subsidy varies from 0-80 % of the salary.

? Work assistant ? A financial support to the employer to cover the cost and give the VI employee possibility to have a personal assistant at work to help out with tasks at work that are difficult or impossible to do other wise.

? SIUS ? A special method for vocational training. A SIUS consultant from the employment office gives support and job training in the workplace from 1 to 6 months depending on the need.   

? Assistive technology and assessments in the workplace. The local employment office covers the cost for the first year. The measures are individual and based on the need. There is no financial limit when a person is offered a position/job.

Specialised Employment offices for people with low vision

There are employment offices in nearly all municipalities. In nine different places geographically located to cover the whole of Sweden there are specialised employment offices catering to people with visual impairment. Teams of Low Vision Specialists, Employment Advisers, Study and Careers counsellors, Opticians, Eye specialists and Psychologists are offering vocational rehabilitation on a consulting basis.

A visually impaired job seeker reports to the local Employment Office. The local office refers the person to one of the nine special offices and the person is called for a meeting and assessment. The services offered by the Employment Offices with special resources for visually impaired people are:

- Visual adaptations
- Vocational guidance
- Trying out AT  
- Psychological investigations
- Work site adaptations
- Work practice
- Placements

Statistics
Statistics from September, 2005 show there were 2 959 visually impaired people registered at Employment Offices in Sweden. 1 035 had a severe visual impairment or were blind. 1 926 had low vision.  1501 was employed with a wage subsidy and 409 persons were registered as unemployed.

Sweden is a country in northern Europe with 9 029 002 million inhabitants (October 2005) and most people live in the 3 biggest cities Stockholm (1,700,000) Gothenburg and Malm?verage unemployment 6, 5%. The total area of Sweden is 449,964 sq. km (173,732 sq. mi).

Webb conferencing and net meeting as a method to carry out the services offered by the Employment Offices with special resources for visually impaired. [1]

The northern part of the country is wide and people scattered from the coast to the mountain area. Especially in the region of northern Sweden we saw a need to try to find a complementary and alternative way to carry out the services to be able to give service on equal bases through out the country. That people with visual impairment should have the same service from the Employment Offices with special resources independently from where they live, is one of the targets we work towards.  

The project aims to try out if the way of working by using Webb conferencing and net meeting is possible in order to increase the availability of the office services, facilitate and make cooperation easier among the different offices and customers/clients in the field of visual impairment in the regions. The project will also work on the development of the service on information, demonstration and guidance on Assistive Technology for persons with visual impairment in the catchments area of the office for vocational rehabilitation /jobcentre for hearing impaired, visually impaired and deaf in Uppsala.   

The project is in its starting phase and at present different technical solutions are being tested and evaluated to determine best functionality and efficiency for the target groups. The next step will be to try one of the services using web conferencing and/or net meeting in practice. For example to give vocational guidance from one of the Employment Offices with special resources for Visually Impaired to someone who lives more than an hours trip from the office.

Use of the voice recognition program Voice Xpress in combination with magnification programs? [2]

Clients with multiple difficulties who need an alternative way to use the computer not being able to/or partly not being able to use the keyboard for input are sometimes referred to us for consultation. A study has been carried out to test how well the voice recognition program Voice Xpress in combination with two different magnification programs; Zoom text and Lunar/Supernova works.

Lena S?berg
Employment Offices with special resources for visually impaired people, Sundsvall Sweden (Arbetsf?dlingen Rehabilitering SYN, Sundsvall)


References
[1] S?berg L, Arsenovic-Vasiljevic J, Arbetsf?dlingen Rehabilitering Syn (2005) ?Webb conferencing and net meeting as a method to carry out the services offered by the Employment Offices with special resources for visually impaired people, Sweden

[2] S?berg L, Arsenovic-Vasiljevic J, Arbetsf?dlingen Rehabilitering Syn (2005) AT In the workplace, ?Use of the voice recognition program Voice Xpress in combination with magnification programs?, The Employment Office with special resources for visually impaired people, Sweden


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