With proper training and opportunities, people with physical and mental disabilities can become contributing members of the society. Even amidst limited resources and massive social obstacles, many people with disabilities in Bangladesh have proved their skills in various sectors. They are achieving remarkable success in a wide range of areas such as sports, music, arts, ICT, etc.
With a call for creating opportunities for the physically challenged people, the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCS) and the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) jointly arranged a job fair on the first day of 2017. The BCS is a part of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division. Under the Access to Livelihood project supported by Accenture and Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD), CSID and BCC jointly organized the fair at the BCC Bhaban. A number of ICT institutions and banks participated in the fair. A total of 121 persons with disabilities were directly recruited from the fair.
The local ICT organizations are largely involved with providing job opportunities to the persons with disabilities. The member organizations of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), Bangladesh Association of Call Centre and Outsourcing (BACCO), Accenture, My Outsourcing, Digicon, and Cyber Cafe Owners, among others, have directly recruited from the fair. Moreover, Exim Bank provided job opportunities to a few disabled people as well.
This year marks the third successful run of the fair. In the past two fairs, 92 people with various forms of disabilities landed well-paid jobs. Of them, 32 were recruited in 2015, and 60 in 2016. Some of those who visited this year’s fair have shared their success story. Amena Khatun Fahima got her job at the fair last year. “My job has changed my life. Had I not participated in the job fair, I might not have had any employment opportunity today,” she said. Matiul Islam, another person with disability, is currently working in the government’s Food Division. Along with a steady job, he has acquired a new, positive attitude towards life, he said.
Overcoming the obstacles of her own disability, Nusrat Jahan is working for the betterment of other people with disabilities. She has already received a BDT1 million grant from the innovation fund of the ICT division. This entrepreneur said, “People with disabilities have to take up challenging jobs in order to overcome the impairment. They are no less skilled than many able-bodied workers. Along with job searching organizations, there should be specialized organizations to provide work opportunities to people with disabilities.” Some of the attendees expressed their dissatisfaction with the public sector jobs. Chittagong University student Mohammad Shahjahan pointed to the fact that the High Court’s direction about providing 1 percent job to the people with disabilities in the public service commission is not being followed through.
In this year’s fair, four persons with disabilities were awarded laptops in recognition of their international achievements. In 2015, they achieved remarkable success in the “Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities” competition, held in DISABILITIES Indonesia. The Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (KSRPD) along with a few other organizations arranged this competition. The ICT division of Bangladesh and CSID arranged the participation of four youth with disabilities in the competition.
The Bangladeshi competitors were Mahadi Hossain, student of the Computer Science and Engineering Department of Rajshahi University, Faisal Ahmed, student of Computer Science and Engineering Department of Bangladesh University of Business and Technology (BUBT), and Rahima Patwari and Taukir Ahmad, both students of the Social Science Department of Dhaka University. The Bangladesh team participated in three events and won two awards. The team won the third prize in the e-mapping competition. Mahadi Hossain won the first prize in the individual competition in the graphic design category, beating hundreds of competitors. The team is more than happy with its performance. Winning the third position in the group competition is a huge achievement as it shows that Bangladesh is in a strong position in the ICT sector, said the team members Mahadi and Faisal. In 2016, another Bangladeshi team of youth with disabilities participated in a competition in China and achieved remarkable success. The participants were Kazi Nusrat Cynthia in physical impairment category, Arman Kalam in speaking and hearing impairment category, and Saiful Islam and Rafid Ahsan in visual impairment category.
Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh and member of the WHO Advisory Panel on Mental Health, Saima Wazed Hossain was the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony in the job fair. She said, “The voices of people with disabilities must be heard. We have to listen to their problems and work accordingly to solve them. Sometimes we cannot even recognize the problems. So we have to try to acknowledge them as best as we can. Our attitude towards people with disabilities has to be changed. With the proper use of technology, it is possible to minimize the obstacles for them.”
State minister of ICT Division, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, announced that all the organizations especially the ICT ones will be disability-friendly in the near future. He said. “We will ensure work opportunity for over 3,500 persons with disabilities by providing them with proper training. They will receive training at 28 centers countrywide. Almost BDT2.4 million is being spent on these centers.”