Category Archives: Employment for Persons with Disabilities


The “ILO Global Business and Disability Network 4th annual meeting and “National Business and Disability Networks ways forward for international collaboration” was held at the ILO Head Quarters in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2017. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre made a presentation on “Activities of the Employers’ Network on Disability – Sri Lanka” at this event.


The ILO (International Labour Organisation) GBDN (Global Business and Disability Network) is a unique employers-led worldwide

Network of multinational companies, national employers’

Organizations, business networks and disabled people

Organizations (DPOs) working in collaboration to promote

The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace.

This year’s annual meeting highlighted the importance of

Digital accessibility for business success, showcase how skills

Gaps can be addressed by promoting disability-inclusive

Practices and provide a rare opportunity to exchange

Experiences and network among disability champions from

The private sector. During the meeting, there was also a

Welcome ceremony for the new members of the network.

There are National Business and Disability Networks (NBDNs) in over twenty countries. Many of these are developing or newly established. The ILO hosted this meeting to bring the networks and other international organizations together for the first time. Through both online and physical participation, NBDNs from all over the world shared their status, challenges and future plans.


Together with members of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN) and other key stakeholders, the meeting identified key issues to be addressed and points for collaboration. The meeting was particularly focused on supporting newly-established networks in developing countries.


Technical sessions covered:

  • Understanding the current situation of National and Business and Disability Networks around the world.
  • Technical support to national networks: what exists and what is needed in the future.
  • Allies and Advocacy: working with other stakeholders and influencing the enabling environment
  • Way forward for collaboration between national networks.


Picture description for vision impaired persons:

1 Day 1 Manique with the banner.

2 Day 1 conference.

3 Day 1 Manique  and Federica.

4 Day 1 group photograph.

5 Day 1 Manique.


6 Day 2 Manique with the participants.

7 Day 2 Manique at conference.

8 Day 2 Manique making presentation.

9 Manique with the ILO flags.

10 GBDN steering committee meeting.

11 Manique at United Nations.

12 United Nations.

Manique Gunaratne

Viber: 0094779571918


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre conducts “Employer Sensitisation” programmes for companies. Ms. Manique Gunaratne trained the staff members of DIMO (Pvt) Ltd. On “Disability etiquettes” to promote diversity and inclusion of the company.


Picture description for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique presenting.

2 Manique with the participants.

Manique Gunaratne

FaceBook – Manique Gunaratne


Empowering Persons with Disabilities is important to address the prevailing issues of social and economic inclusion of Persons with Disability in Sri Lanka.  To address the issue of social and economic inclusion, the Prime Minister’s Office has established a sub-Committee on Vocational and Technical Training focusing on Persons with Disabilities and in line with the government’s “Vision 2025”. This committee represents many stakeholders from the private sector, including State Vocational Training Institutions under the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training and Ministry of Social Empowerment and Welfare.

The Sub-Committee scheduled a “Train the Trainer Program” in September 2017 for private sector companies who are passionate in lending a hand to persons with disabilities. The Train the Trainer Program was held at the Training Institute for Technical Professionals (TITP).

Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre conducted the training sessions on “Disability etiquettes” on day 1, “Accessible formats for persons with disabilities” on day 2 and “Access to build environment” on day 3.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Day 1 Manique conducting the session

2 Day 1 participants.

3 Day 2 Manique conducting the session.

4 Day 2 Manique instructing on sighted guide technique.

5 Day 2 participants.

6 Day 3 Manique conducting the session.

Manique Gunaratne

Fax – 0094112867946


“By offering more employment opportunities for those with disabilities, you will be doing yourself a favour,” reflected the Director General of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Kanishka Weerasinghe, addressing the EFCs Employers’ Network on Disability which met last month to re-constitute the committee drawn from the EFC member companies. Calling upon a gathering of employers, including the new steering committee representing 14 member companies, the EFC Chief urged the network to open more employment opportunities to people with disabilities who have proven to be productive partners in the workforce. “What most of us take for granted such as commuting to work is a challenge for those with disabilities; yet despite all those odds, their attendance and punctuality are far superior to those blessed with all faculties,” asserted Weerasinghe urging for an inclusive workplace. He also reminded that sustainability is all about showcasing best practices.


The EFC Employers’ Network on Disability which was set up in 1999 with the support of the ILO, seeks to champion productive employment for those with disabilities while empowering them to retain employment at the same time. Offering a broad spectrum of facilities including job preparation, job placements, ICT training, life skills including English language skills to those with disabilities, the Network is also armed with a fully equipped digital library and a resource centre. “These facilities are open to undergraduates, post graduate students and even job seekers,” says Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre. The ICT Training Centre which is now upgraded into a fully-fledged centre is the only facility in the country which renders ICT know-how to persons with diverse disabilities. The facility also made history as the first ever CISCO-accredited academy for persons with diverse disabilities in the country.


Offering an array of other facilities including printing of braille and large print pocket calendars, Access Audits for companies, the ICT training centre has also taken strides to connect ICT students with disabilities through virtual platforms. “This initiative was made possible through a partnership with the Internet Society of Sri Lanka and it spares the beneficiaries from the hassle of commuting, enabling them to follow the courses on-line in the comfort of their own homes,” explains Ms. Gunaratne.


Reiterating that the Network on Disability is not a charity project but a realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which Sri Lanka is a signatory, Ms.Gunaratne encouraged member companies to ‘give a chance to those with disabilities to prove that they are able’ in many ways.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

  1. Speech by Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe

2. Participants.

3. Presentation by Manique Gunaratne

4. Presentation by Manique Gunaratne 2

5. Speech by Sonali De Silva

6. Manique and Kanishka Weerasinghe

Manique Gunaratne

Tel. – 0094112867966


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon convened a meeting of the EFC Employers Network on Disability in August 2017 to appoint members to the committee that manages the Network and to re-constitute the committee based on feedback and the interest shown by members to be involved in the activities of the specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre managed by the Secretariat. The Network will work towards the following goals and objectives.


To enhance employment opportunities within the private sector for people with disabilities


  1. To develop awareness raising programs and promotes positive attitudes regarding persons with disabilities.
  2. To provide guidance on vocational training based on employer needs to organizations for people with disabilities.
  • To participate in policy making bodies related to employment of people with disabilities and to represent employer views on such matter.
  1. To facilitate the hiring of people with disabilities through placement services counselling and such like activities.
  2. To provide a forum to explore and respond to employers needs relating to managing disability at work place.
  3. To recognize and promote good practices regarding employment of people with disabilities.
  • To represent and lobby for employers issues related to managing disability at work places.
  • To under-take the training of disabled persons in employable skills.
  1. To raise funds for activities of the network.
  2. Work in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental agencies involved in disability related issues in furtherance of the goals of the Network.

All companies are invited to join the Network. For further details please contact Ms. Manique Gunaratne on 0112867966.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Welcome by Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe.

2 Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe and Ms. Manique Gunaratne at the head table.

3 Manique making presentation.

4 Manique explaining the activities of the Network.

5 Audience.

6 Ms. Sonali De Silva speaking.


Manique Gunaratne

Manager – Specialise Training and Disability Resource Centre of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon





Supported Employment is the new concept in placing persons with disabilities in gainful employment. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability together with the other team members who were trained on Supported Employment in Northern Ireland conducted the training for MAS team at MAS Fabrics in March 2017.


Picture description for vision impaired persons:

2 Imalka making a presentation.


3 Manique making a presentation.


4 Manique with the participants.



Manique Gunaratne





The Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment (NIUSE) organized a series of training workshops and associated practitioner observation study visits in Belfast, Northern Ireland in November – December 2016 related to Supported Employment for individuals at disadvantage in accessing employment due to disability.

NIUSE is a non-governmental organisation promoting employment and vocational training opportunities for people with disabilities and people from other disadvantaged situations through the Supported Employment model. The Supported Employment model assists people with significant disabilities to access and stay in employment in the open labour market by providing individualised and on-going support. NIUSE is a membership based organisation representing persons with diverse disabilities organisations (physical, learning, mental health, sensory and hidden disabilities) from across Northern Ireland.

Along with attending the training workshops and associated practitioner observation study visits, and also to organise meetings and visits to a range of Supported Employment organisations as well as meeting with relevant Government Departments and agencies (i.e. Department for Communities, Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety). NIUSE has also links with third level academic institutions, such as Queens University and the University of Ulster across a number of faculties if our organization would wish to form links.

In addition, NIUSE currently holds the Presidency of the European Union of Supported Employment ( through Margaret Haddock who is the Chair of NIUSE.

Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability along with academics of University of Kelaniya, academics of University of Sri Jayawardanapura, Manager from Mas Holdings and Principal of the Naffeel School for the Deaf and Blind were trained in Supported Employment.

It was a great opportunity to meet with her and to further develop links with National Associations of Supported Employment across Europe for organisations and Sri Lanka.

Supported Employment will support the “See Inclusion see the gaps project.  SEE Inclusion SEE the Gaps is a ten-year project initiated by the Centre for Disability Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya and the Coordinating Centre for Students with Disabilities at the University of Kelaniya to work towards bridging the gaps that give rise to barriers for individuals with disability to access education and employment. The gaps to inclusion often result from a lack of practical support frameworks and mechanisms for people with disabilities to gain active participation and equal opportunities for education and employment. The project SEE Inclusion SEE the Gaps will work to create partnerships to establish these frameworks and mechanisms and their practical application in Sri Lanka. It is a three-part project addressing the gaps in the constructs of self, education and employment at the levels of knowledge creation, dissemination, skill development and attitudinal ideologies.

University of Kelaniya organised a programme to thank all the stakeholders who supported the project and to discuss the importance of developing the carder of Supported Employment Officers at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in February 2017.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Conference theme.

conference theme

2 Manique Gunaratne speaking at the panel.

manique speaking with a smile

3 Group photograph of the Supported Employment Officers.

supported employment team

Manique Gunaratne