The Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) was shortlisted for the ‘Zero Project 2021’- an initiative of the Essl Foundation which focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. An Austrian foundation set up in 2007 by Martin and Gerda Essl and their children for social purposes and scientific research, its mission is to support social innovation, social entrepreneurship and persons with disabilities. The Foundation is also in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 2014 (ECOSOC status) and a member of the European Foundation Centre.
The Zero Project of the Essl Foundation provides a platform where the most innovative an effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. It is committed to assist in creating a world without barriers, based on the Articles of the UN Convention on
the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Each year the Zero Project focuses its research on a particular theme from the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD.) The themes revolve around the key areas of employment, accessibility, independent living, political participation and education. The EFC’s Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre was among the 178 nominations which made it through to the shortlist out of 475 nominations for the Zero Project Award 2021. ‘The nominated practices and policies have made it through a detailed quality check and through one round of peer-reviewing from experts, with and without disabilities, from around the world,’ according to the project details. Applauding Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the EFC for, “her commitment towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities,” in a congratulatory note, the Zero Project Team has further acknowledged her efforts to be having a “significant impact on inclusive economic development.” The Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the EFC which is now into its
11 th year, is a benchmarked platform for its ‘innovation’ and ‘uniqueness’, says its Manager. “The opportunities afforded by the Centre are multiple including employment opportunities for people with disabilities, additional training opportunities, app users etc. All these services are geared towards the open labour market in the country and extend to persons with diverse disabilities, diverse age groups, covering all corners of Sri Lanka,” notes Gunaratne who is a globally recognized activist for people with disabilities.
Steered by a person with a disability for persons with disabilities, the Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre rests on the concept of ‘nothing about without us,’ says Gunaratne who herself is visually impaired, having lost her vision in her late twenties due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Calling for a national will to champion the rights of people with disabilities, Gunaratne urges for expeditious passage of Disability Rights Bill. “The COVID pandemic has taken a toll on everyone and it is imperative to identify the concerns of people with disabilities and empower
them especially during a testing time such as this.” She also invites more companies and stakeholders to join hands with the EFC to provide more employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and promote inclusive workplaces. “It’s a huge honour for the EFC and would like to thank the members of Employers Network on Disability, those who have supported us over the years and especially those who have committed themselves in assisting persons with disabilities over the years.
Read the articles at:
EFC’s Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre shines globally | Daily FT
Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:
1 Manique Gunaratne
2 Zero project badge.
3 Daily FT article.
Vice Chair Person – South Asian Disability Forum