The employers’ federation of Ceylon supports SMALL BUSINESS holders with disabilities


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability took another initiative in the disability field. Under the LEED (Local Empowerment through Economic Development) Project the EFC is supporting persons with disabilities to expand their businesses. The common trend in the society is to grant self-employment aid which has a charity based approach. When self-employment aid is granted there is no proper mechanism to monitor the growth of the business. Also persons with disabilities have a mindset of a charity approach. But it is very important to have a right based approach. Therefore, the LEED project grants interest free loans for persons with disabilities to expand their businesses. It is very important to have entrepreneurs with disabilities.

The interest free loans are granted after proper analysis by the EFc team. In August 2015 EFC granted loans for 10 persons with disabilities to expand their businesses. The handing over of cheques was held at a small function organized by EFC at Mardap in Mannar district. To have a gender balance the EFC team selected 5 males and 5 female business holders. The loans were granted to 5 persons with physical disabilities, 4 wheel chair users and one person with a hearing impairment. These candidates have different types of businesses. It was very encouraging to see them involved in different businesses. The types of businesses they were doing were two candidates for fishing nets, phone repairing shop, curd business, CD shop, milking cows, poultry farming, agro industry, sewing and beauty culture. The project allocated loan facilities for a total of Rs. 800,000.


Picture descriptions:

Presenting the cheque by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne to a small business holder with a physical disability for manufacturing of fishing nets.

presenting cheque for small business fishing nets physical disability

Presenting the cheque by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne for a small business holder using a wheel chair for manufacturing fishing nets.

presenting the cheque to small business fishing nets wheel chair




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Fostering family engagement for persons with disabilities in Mannar district


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon took another initiative to fostering family engagement for persons with disabilities. Due to cultural barriers, family background and over protection by the parents, persons with disabilities find very difficult to be placed in employment.

The ILO (International LabourOrganisation) LEED (Local empowerment through Economic Development) project is being implemented by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon since 2011. Now they are implementing the phase 4 of the project. Fostering family engagements workshops were done in Mulativu and in Kilinochchi districts few months ago.

In August 2015 persons with disabilities in Mannar district got the opportunity to develop their skills. The workshop was held at Mardap (Mannar District Differently Abled People) organization. The organization had all the accessibility features for persons with disabilities. That was the reason for the EFC team to decide on a barrier free venue like Mardap.

20 participants were selected along with one family member for this workshop. To give equal opportunities for people with diverse disabilities. Vision impaired, hearing impaired and persons with physical disabilities were involved in the workshop. Gender balance was also taken into consideration. The workshop had sign language interpretation throughout the workshop. Tamil translations were done by the EFC Project Manager for North, Mr. A. Kirushanthan.

The introduction to EFC Network on Disability was done by Ms. Sonali De Silva. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne did the presentation on “Importance of doing a job”.

Mr. Samantha, the Branch Manager of Singer Finance Ltd. Madawachchiya Shared his experience in employing persons with disabilities in their company.

EFC ICT trainees Mr. RangaSampath (vision impaired) who was placed in employment at Singer Finance Ltd.  By EFC and Ms. ArumuganathanArthika (vision impaired) Assistant Manager CargillsVavuniya Branch who was also placed in employment by EFC, spoke about their experience in being gainfully employed.  These two sessions had a very good impact on persons with disabilities who are seeking for employment and I am sure even the family members realized the importance of their child been employed.

Next was the session on how to write a proper CV and interview skills. The session was conducted by Ms. Sonali De Silva, Ms. Ayomi Fernando and Ms. ManiqueGunaratne from EFC. The role play made very interesting for the participants to learn the right skills to develop their confidence to face a job interview.

Participants enjoyed a delicious lunch and thereafter had an interactive session with a wife of an employee with a disability who spoke about the impact of having her husband earning, supporting the family and being a successful citizen in society.

A person with a physical disability spoke on what is expected from the parents and family, Disability Barriers – one showing how families

Can be a barrier to a person with a disability, even though they have good intentions at heart.

The session on “Changing mind set” was conducted by Ms. Sonali De Silva.

Workshops are a learning flat form for everyone. But this workshop had a difference. All participants including family members had to commit themselves by signing a pledge. The pledge had seven areas each person could commit themselves to work on. Each person committed to do one or more thing in the pledge. At the workshops held in Mulativu and Kilinochchi, the EFC team selected a winner who committed to do the most number of areas in the disability field. The winner was the District Service Officer from Mulativu, Mr. Thasarasan. The award was given to a representative from the Mulativu District Office by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne.

It was a happy end of a workshop with smiling faces where all took a photograph holding the pledge.

MardapOrganisation had a group of persons with disabilities who were making handicraft items. The EFC team bought a big box full of handicraft items to bring to Colombo to do a sales promotion for them.


Picture descriptions:


EFC trainees Arthika and Ranga sharing their experiences at the workshop.

aarthika and ranga making a presentation

Representative from the Mulativu District Office receiving the award for the pledge.

award for the winner of the pledge

Family workshop group photograph.

family workshop group photo

Manique making a presentation on importance of doing a job.

family workshop manique making presentation

Sonali making a presentation on EFC network on disability.

Participants of the workshop.

family workshop participants

Branch Manager Singer Finance, Samantha making a presentation.

presentation by singer finance



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Persons with disabilities fight for their rights during parliamentary elections 2015


First time in the history in Sri Lanka a group of persons with disabilities contested for the parliamentary elections in 2015. They contested for two districts in Sri Lanka. There were very good awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities during the campaign. More facilities were provided for persons with disabilities during the election process such as allowing a family member to go with a vision impaired persons, accessibility facilities in polling booths, transportation etc. Please read the articles on the following links.

Daily Mirror…/differently-abled-to-contest-in…

Divaina 16 August 2015

Sunday Observer 9 August 2015

Daily Financial Times 16 August 2015–Perera-laments-political-apathy-towards-the-disabled

Daily Mirror 7 August 2015

Dinamina August 2015

Dinamina 10 August 2015



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American Centre includes persons with disability to celebrate 25 years of American disability act


The American Centre Sri Lanka celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the world’s first

Comprehensive law guaranteeing equality of

Opportunity to persons with disabilities. The American Centre organized a programme at the Full Bright Commission, titled “Lives Worth Living” A Global Interactive Web chat on Disability Rights and Education. The Great Fight for Disability Rights Web chat was with Special Guests:

Judy Heumann, U.S. Department of State’s Special Advisor for

Persons with Disabilities

Ann Cody, International Paralympian and member of the Internal-

tional Paralympic Committee

King Jorden, former first deaf president of Gallaudet University.

It was followed by a Panel Discussion with:

Dr. Mario Gomez (Moderator), Executive Director of International Center for Ethnic Studies

Dr. PadmaniMendis, Advisor, Disability and Rehabilitation

Dr. ChandaniLiyanage, Head, Center for Disability Research, Education and Practice

(CeDREP, University of Colombo)

Mr. Cyril Siriwardene, Vice President, Disability Organizations Joint Front

Mr. SeevaliSeneviratne, President, Sri Lanka Central Federation of the Deaf

Mr. IshanJalill, Founder, Action Against Apathy

Ms. ManiqueGunaratne also participated at this forum and contributed in ideas on employing persons with disabilities.


Picture description:

Panelists of the programme


Manique Gunaratne

Blog: efcnetworkondisability.employers.lkamerican centre pannel discussion


Daisy (digital accessible information system) books for vision impaired persons


Digital Accessible Information System, or DAISY, is a means of creating digital talking books for people who wish to hear—and navigate—written material

Presented in an audible format; many such listeners have print disabilities including blindness, impaired vision, dyslexia or other issues.

Using DAISY, a talking book format is presented with enabled navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of (marked-up) text synchronized

With audio.

DAISY 2 was a standard based on XHTML and SMIL

DAISY 3 is also based on XML and is standardized as ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005 (R2012)

DAISY assists people who, for different reasons, have problems using regular printed media. DAISY books have the benefits of regular [[audiobooks]], but

They are superior because DAISY 2.02 provides up to six embedded “navigation levels” for content (i.e. other objects such as images, graphics, [[MathML]]

Etc.)and for displaying synchronized text to speech. DAISY Multimedia can be a talking book, computerized text or a synchronized presentation of text and


As a result, DAISY books allow the blind listener to navigate an encyclopedia; this is impossible using conventional audio recordings because they lack

Search and [[navigation features]] and they require linear listening

While reading a DAISY book, a reader can go to the next or previous page, chapter or sentence. DAISY is for everyone who needs accessible information and

For everyone who loves to read.

The DAISY Consortium has been selected by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) as the official maintenance agency for the DAISY/NISO

Standard, officially, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86, Specifications for the Digital Talking Book, known as DAISY 3.

The DAISY Consortium was founded in 1996 and consists of a growing membership of organizations around the world committed to developing equitable access

To information for people who have a [[print disability]].

DAISY books can be heard on standalone DAISY players and computers using DAISY playback software

Mobile phones, and MP3 players – with limited navigation. DAISY books can be distributed on a CD/DVD, memory card or through the Internet.

A computerized text DAISY book can be read using refreshable Braille display or screen-reading software, printed as Braille book on paper, converted to

A talking book using synthesised voice or a human narration, and also printed on paper as large print book. In addition, it can be read as large print

Text on computer screen.

Software-based players include:

◾ GH PLAYER, a commercial DAISY player

◾ AMIS – Adaptive Multimedia Information System – an open-source self-voicing player for Windows that works with several screen readers; developed by the

DAISY Consortium

Emerson-reader, an open-source and cross-platform Epub and DAISY player

Dorina DAISY Reader (DDReader)

ButtercupReader, a web-based application for DAISY 3 books

CUCAT Olearia, an open-source DAISY reader for Mac OS X

Daisy Delight (DAISY 2.02, for Mac OS X and Unix-based systems)

DAISY Book Reader, GTK Daisy Talking Book reader application

Other relevant software:

Daisy Uppsala Archive Project, server-side system for managing DAISY (Digital Talking Books) files

Online Daisy Delivery Technology, open-source software to deliver DAISY books online

Hardware Players

There are also a wide range of hardware products available that can play DAISY content, usually in a portable form factor. Some of these devices are dedicated

To playback of books, while others focus on other functionality, such as PDA or mobile Internet access, and offer DAISY playback as either a feature of

The unit or as a software add-on.

In Sri Lanka the DAISY Lanka Foundation is committed to produce DAISY books for vision impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. The DAISY Lanka Foundation has undertaken many projects to fill the gap of lack of reading materials for especially in our local language (Sinhala). Ms. ManiqueGunaratne is the former Secretary of the DAISY Lanka Foundation and from 2014 she is an Executive Committee Member.



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World University Services of Canada (WUSC) partnered with the employers’ federation of Ceylon (EFC) to include people with disabilities


World University Services of Canada (WUSC) is implementing a project titled ‘Advancing Specialized Skills for Economic Transformation’ (ASSET) project till 2019.

Under ASSET, it has been envisaged to train 4,000 youth for entry level jobs with the private sector in the following high demand sectors: Tourism & Hospitality, Information & Communication Technology, Construction and Automotive.  Training will be made available to these young people, only after identifying companies where they could be employed after the training.

They are planning on targeting youth coming from disadvantage backgrounds and youth who are dropped out of the formal education systems (O/Ls and A/Ls). These targeted youth will come from the following 11 districts in Sri-Lanka. They are: Matara, Hambantota, Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Mullaitiv, Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Vavuniya, and Mannar & Puttlam. Scholarships covering the

Training costs will be made available for women, orphan children, youth coming from single parent headed homes, differently abled and ex-combatants covering Social inclusion and Gender Equality.

Advancing Specialized Skills for Economic Transformation (hereinafter referred to as ASSET) project will work in support of those Government of Sri Lanka and private sector goals for the skills development of Sri Lankan youth.

EFC has an interest in developing relevant employability skills among youth with disabilities in key sectors in Sri Lanka in conjunction with its corporate membership through: improving training relevance and quality, and, providing pre-employment training, career opportunities and guidance for trainees.

WUSC-SL and EFC will develop a framework of cooperation to strengthen linkages between the two parties to identify market-driven job requirements in the major four service sectors (tourism & hospitality, information & communication technology, automotive/mechanical and construction) that are geared to drive significant economic growth in the rest of this decade, to encourage the vocational training institutes to train especially youth with disabilities to enter into these identified job openings and to advance the welfare and employment of female and male trainees and marginalized youth.

The project’s goal is: to increase income potential for key economic drivers in Sri Lanka through enhanced skills and national recognition of the value of the trades and technologies sector and respect for the technical skills of trades.

The three key outcome results of ASSET are as follows:

  • Improved linkages between government training institutions and private sector to collaborate on skills for employment and workplace learning;
  • Enhanced capacity of partner organizations to plan and manage skills for employment training for Sri Lankan youth in priority sectors (hospitality & tourism, information & communication technology, construction, automotive/mechanical);
  • Increased acceptance of careers in trades and technologies as worthwhile occupations for skilled youth through a social marketing campaign which will promote the dignity of labour using a gender sensitive approach.

EFC will:

  • Liaise with its membership and other private business entities to facilitate the identification of jobs that are open for persons with disabilities;
  • Contribute to the elaboration of the training selection criteria which will take into account persons with disabilities, marginalized women, ex-combatants and re-settlers from ASSET operational districts; and
  • Facilitate through its membership, on-the-job training and placement opportunities for persons with disabilities.

The signing of the MOU was held at Kingsbury Hotel in June 2015. The Chief Guest for the event was the High Commissioner for Canada, Her Excellency Shelly Whiting.

Welcome note was delivered by Ms. Angele Touchette.

NPTA Secretary – Mr.  Kisho Anton shared his experience and thoughts on ASSET Project.

Mr. Upul Pinnawala – Principal KVTC –shared his thoughts & experience as a VT provider.

A brief PowerPoint Presentation on what the WUSC team has achieved so far was by the Interim Country Director.

Mr. Sampath Liyanage – President – SLCBC –shared his experience and thoughts on ASSET.

Mr. Vajira Ellepola – Asst. Director General spoke on EFC.

Ms. H.K. Manique Gunaratne shared on The Disability Network and the Training done by EFC.

Mr. Azmi Thassim – Past President / Consultant – Hambantota Chamber shared his experience and thoughts on working with WUSC.

Simon Jones – Global Director Programs – WUSC also addressed the gathering.

Ms. Manique Gunaratne will coordinate the project for EFC.



Manique Gunaratne

Web:   www.bizdirectory.lkunnamed (1) unnamed (2) unnamed (3) unnamed


The Internet Society of Sri Lanka organized an international conference at the Kingsbury Hotel in June 2015. There were participants from the Asia Pacific region. There was a side event to discuss internet access for people with disabilities. For this discussion there were international representatives from Australia, India, Nepal and representatives from the Internet Society, Universities, IT training centres, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and provincial councils from Sri Lanka. Ms. Manique Gunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon played a major role at this discussion. The following areas were taken into consideration.

IT (Information Technology) training for soldiers with disabilities.

More trainers to be trained on IT skills.

Legal implications for IT.

Developing special programmes for people with disabilities using programmers with disabilities.

Explore how people with disabilities can benefit from assistive technologies, collaboration with various Subject Matter Experts and through knowledge transfer opportunities.

Overcome Barriers on language skills, web accessibility and publishing documents in accessible formats.

Use IT for Self-management for Home living, Community functions and Livelihoods and Jobs etc.

Adopting the international guidelines on web accessibility.


Manique Gunaratne

E-mail –





In February 2014 the “Leadership and Project Management” workshop was organized by the Asian Blind Union and the Nepal Association of the Blind at Hotel Manaslu in Katmandu, Nepal. Following areas were covered at the conference.

An overview of International Treaties and strategies for their Ratification and implementation.

Gender policy of Asian Blind Union.

Identifying issues and developing strategies for implementation of Asian Blind Union Gender Policy.

Assessment of the status of Ratification of Marrakesh Copy Right Treaty.

Issues relating to strengthening of organizational capacity of Asian Blind Union affiliate organization in the sub-region, Mapping of need.

Identifying issues relating to formation of groups by women leaders in the process of development of the respective project and their experiences with regard to group dynamic.

Strategy to enhance participation of Asian Blind Union affiliate organizations in the work of Asian Blind Union

Identifying the issues and difficulties faced by women leaders during development of their respective projects by using the project format.

Developing and Presentation of a strategy for implementation of the specific project.

Strengthening skills for advocacy on Ratification and Implementation of UNCRPD.

Empowering Affiliate organizations for ensuring inclusion of blind /partially sighted persons in the programmes of International Developmental Agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank, UNESCO, ILO etc.

Development of project for implementation in the respective country by developing partnership with aforementioned international agencies.

Vision impaired persons from South Asian countries participated for this workshop. Ms. Manique Gunaratne represented Sri Lanka for this workshop.



Manique Gunaratne

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In April 2014 the awarding of certificates to the I.C.T. trainees of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon was held at The E.F.C. auditorium. We had two guest speakers for the occasion. Dr. Iain Murrey, Senior Lecturer and Course Co-coordinator of Curtin University of Technology in Australia and Dr. Sohan Dharmaraja, a Researcher and Consultant qualified in U.S.A. The Director General of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Mr. Ravi Pieris made the welcome speech. The Co-coordinator of the E.F.C.Network on Disability, Ms. Tanya Warnakulasuriya did a speech on the Network on Disability. Dr. Iain Murrey did a very informative speech on “What the Cisco programs offer and how this leads to jobs for people with vision impairment”. Dr. Sohan Dharmaraja explain about the I pad Braille software developed by him and he donated 7 I pads with the I pad Braille software. Mr. Sayed Ahamed spoke on the experience of an I.C.T. trainee of the E.F.C. on behalf of all I.C.T. trainees. Ms. Manique Gunaratne did a presentation on the success of the I.C.T. training Centre. After that 30 visually impaired persons who have successfully completed their various courses on I.C.T. received certificates and training bags. It was a really beautiful and successful event. Many radio stations, TV stations and newspapers gave publicity to this event.


Manique Gunaratne

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Group photo