Webinar: Disability Inclusion in COVID-19 responses in the World of Work


This is Stefan Tromel, senior disability specialist here in the ILO. We’re extremely excited by the webinar that we are organizing I will provide a few logistical comments at the beginning and a few introductory remarks and then I will pass on the floor to our four five five panelists on the logistics please be aware that you can use the captioning option there should be a button at the lower part of your screen where you can it should say closed caption and that you can activate or deactivate the captions which are in English we are also recording the webinar so and we will share the record with all of you and any other person that has expressed interest in listening to it your you will be able to – and some of you have already been doing it you will be able to send questions and answers to us we will be filtering those and we will make it the utmost – to bring those questions back to the panelists and also if there are any questions that have been raised which we have not been able to to deal with throughout the webinar we will take careful note of them and we will come back to all of you with those questions and attempts to answer them. We had 330 people registered by this morning 200 of which had registered since Sunday and I’m just saying right now that the figures of people that are actually listening right now are close to 250 so this is definitely the webinar that we’ve been organizing that has attracted the highest level of attention. We have scheduled the webinar to last for one hour but if you need we have also arranged with the captionist we could go beyond the one hour if needed and in order to sort of accommodate as much as possible the questions that we are getting. And you all have been put in on mute. I will be moderating and I will only be unmuting the different speakers. As said any other interaction, in particularly of the very large number of participants, that will need to happen through the Q&A section. Again you will have a button on the lower part of your screen which says Q&A. Some of you are already using that. Let me, before passing on the floor to the five speakers that you can see on the screen, I want to make a few introductory remarks. I think it’s fair to say, at least, I have extremely mixed feelings about the current situation. When I’m up on a positive side, we are better off than before. If this same crisis would have caught us ten years ago where there was much less attention to persons with disabilities at the global and international level, much less attention to persons with disabilities in the corporate sector, we would have been even worse so we are now in a much better situation. Persons with disabilities are much higher on all the agendas: policymakers, the UN, at national level and also in particular in the corporate sector. So, from that point of view, but positive note. However, it’s also fair to say that the awareness on persons with disabilities is still very low. Prejudice and stigma are still extremely prevalent. Many people still question the quality of life of persons with disabilities and that is particularly dangerous in a context now where sometimes access to health is graduated and is not available there for everybody and, people can come to the conclusion in some cases that persons with very severe disabilities should not have access to life-saving operations. When we look -and that’s the look we will take-, when we look at the area of work, they still have very high prevalence of people that think that people with disabilities cannot work or definitely cannot work like others, so why should we pay particular attention to persons with disabilities in this context? why should we continue to promote their entry into the labor market? so we need to see and, I think it depends on the day, that some days when you are -we are- more pessimistic and sometimes we are more optimistic, and we will hear from our speakers, especially as a call colleagues from from China. We will hear from IBM, we will hear from our colleague in the UK, examples of how companies and other stakeholders have been addressing this issue in a positive way. But, the main message I think that we need to convey with this webinar is that we cannot just sit back. You cannot just hope that because people with disabilities should not be excluded because we should we all convinced about social justice; because there is this message coming from the UN on leave no one behind, you cannot just expect that this will happen automatic and this is to some extent the reason for the webinar today. It’s really like an urgent appeal for attention and action to address all the relevant stakeholders, reminding them that in the answer to this crisis in the short-term answers. And we will hear about some of the things that companies and others can do in the short-term but, even more importantly, in the responses that we need to come very soon. And I started to come to address the economic crisis that is unfolding, we need to make persons with disabilities a key player in those processes. We need to make sure that it’s that people with disabilities will not be over-represented among those that will lose their jobs and such. Of course many people will lose their jobs and many of them will be people with disabilities, but we need to make sure that persons with disabilities are not over-represented in that situation so when you think about questions that you would like to ask the panel or ourselves, please all think about recommendations that you would like to make to us and to others listening in the call.  Recommendations for actions. What more do we need to do with this double component: the short-term which is probably a bit easier, because we all know exactly more or less what we can do in the short-term, but also thinking of this midterm because what we can already seen on the platform of World Economic Forum people already of course concerned about the health crisis but more and more are concerned about the economic crisis which is unfolding. Service from my own country, Spain, shows that 50% of the working age population is concerned about losing their job as a result of this crisis so this is so why I’m saying that we need to look at the short-term but also more importantly we need to look at the midterm and we need to raise the disability flag in all of these contexts. We need to come up with our recommendations but we need really to position and infiltrate in the mainstream discussions that are happening around Covid 19 in the short term and in dimensions. So, I wanted to share these reflections and now, without further ado, and really thanking the five speakers since we had to organize this webinar on a very short timeframe, but it was amazing how, when we reached out to colleagues and suggested them to be part of this they were all immediately available and hopefully will definitely make a huge contribution to our webinar so I would start by giving the floor to Federico Negro. He’s a colleague in the ILO and is he’s the head of the coordination support unit for peace and resilience and the ILO has asked him and the colleagues in his department to try to help us to have, you know, to identify the the immediate actions that the ILO and its partners need to do in the context of the Covid 19. So, I will turn off the video myself, I will mute myself and I will now ask and  unmute Federico. Federico – coming over to you. Thank you very much Stefan and good afternoon or good morning colleagues depending where you are. So I will, as requested, do a very short presentation on two main topics. First of all, providing some information about the ILO response to what is becoming or is already a socio-economic crisis and also a very quick introduction on the topic of the of the webinar today which is the disability inclusiveness in the crisis response. First of all, let me start by saying that the pandemic rapidly caused the economic and labor market shocks that we all see and which are obviously consequence of the restrictions imposed by the different countries. But definitely the impact on the both supply and demands of goods and services is severe and that’s why the work and the involvement of an organization such as the ILO is very much relevant. Unfortunately we have to say but the relevance of our work in estimating analyzing the socio-economic impact and the consequences of this pandemic is fundamental but, it’s also very important that the organization puts together some policy responses that are needed at all levels and, this is actually what the office from the very beginning of this crisis, has been doing. It goes without saying that in the focus of such crisis, the relevance of the social dialogue remains fundamental and in this case particularly the role that the tripartite constituents can play is major in sort of striking the balance between, from one side protecting health or workers in the workplace and of course, no compromise can be accepted on that one but at the same time trying as Stefan just mentioned to help. Always look at the long-term, so what’s happening next. Consequences of these crisis can be protracted having an even stronger impact into society. So definitely the role of our office is fundamental to at least try to minimize it, because we have to minimize the impact on job losses that thas added consequences on our society as a whole. Ther ILO has always been putting together a note that you may have seen on the the web, developing some scenarios about the impact on employment and unemployment. Of course the impact of the crisis is a higher and higher every day more. Also the ILO is continually working with a good number of specialists from different technical areas that they form a task team and they are working to come up with a new estimation that very relevant in order to inform policy areas, sectoral level at any level, employment policy level what to do to cope with this crisis but as I said, moving to the second point because I have about five minutes, the second point and to dive into the issue that we are discussing today that attracted so many people -and, no wonder- is that how we ensure that in whatever we do, not only as ILO, of course as all, how do we ensure the inclusiveness in the crisis response of the disability issues or issues pertaining to disabled persons you know this is not new. And Stefan you mentioned it in you in introductory remarks this is not new to the ILO luckily so we are not starting from scratch, which is already very positive. You know the inclusion of persons disability has been in crisis response including is documented for instance in a guide that we development in the ILO in 2016 but more importantly it is included in the recommendation 205 which is the employment and decent work for peace and resilience adopted by the ILC in 2017 so few years back where the protection rather, this recommendation provides a specific support for just -hold on a second because I’ve missed them and I want to mention this correctly so- the recommendation places a specific attention to persons and groups which were made particularly vulnerable by the crisis. This is fundamental to keep in mind because these disabled people are included in this group but it’s not about just a general recommendation. This is where we go into concrete stuff so the member states are actually requested by the recommendation to conduct employment access and that include a focus on the specific needs of this population adapting specific measures including for single headed households. All that is important and relevant to tackle in a specific way, developing and applying active labor market policies that they are also to the benefit of also inclusiveness there and also of course protecting labor rights for all and when we say for all who include all and we have to include all also very important is the fact that there is always some work to be done which is the to combat the discrimination and Prejudice so it’s not only inclusion but also ensuring that we include properly on any discrimination or prejudice is you know the crisis sponsors an opportunity to tackle. Voilà, so this is a reference that is a you know at the highest level. The recommendation provides clear indication on that and it’s a way to pave the way really for a practical implementation, at the country level or a global level when we send policy messages. So, I encourage to start from here and ensuring that whatever information we provide, whatever policy we suggest we work for disability inclusion in our work. Over to you Stefan. Thank you thank you very much, Federico. Very important points. I will now ask our second speaker Haibin Zhou, our colleague from China. Haibin you have a PowerPoint. Haibin is the coordinator of the China chapter of the ILO global business and disability network he’s not also a good friend but he was an ex-colleague from the ILO and Haibin has been particularly active in this because in fact Haibin and his family come from Wuhan, which as you know has been the place where  Covid 19 started to appear and which means that he has been dealing with this issue longer  than many others and has been particularly active in trying to come up with solutions that could benefit persons with disabilities in this particularly challenging a moment so I think it’s always good to hear these stories. How people sort of make the most out of very complicated situations. Haibin over to you. okay Stefan. Can you hear me? Yes we can. Good. Thank you everyone and yes, just two days before Wuhan City was shut down I was in the city and just one day before that my wife and my parents left the Wuhan City to avoid the confusion and also we didn’t want to stay in the city. Actually after I left the city I was still very anxious about the future and the whole country. A very big crisis, at least people don’t know what the result with the future. And people with disability are definitely quite vulnerable in that case. What I heard at the beginning of the pandemic, at least from parents with children with  intellectual disability or autism, they are faced with many challenges when they are affected since their children with intellectual disability cannot be taken care of. And the deaf people who wanted support assistance, they have faced some challenges to                      interact with doctors and social workers and also people with other type of disability. Their access to medicines had some challenges but for GBDN in China chapter what’s our law to response and to the livelihood and the right to employment and job for people with disability after this pandemic or during the pandemic. What they can do this is something we keep in our mind and at the beginning of six of February we get some requests from the WHO and disabled persons Federation and they ask that it seems that the pandemic will takes much longer and during that process if people with disability cannot let assess the kind of psychology support and job counseling they will face a lot of uncertainty and will influence their psychology health and mental health so that’s the beginning of our idea. Then we interview around 50 people with disability in Wuhan, Hubei and Hunan Province. They are very close to each other and we find that nearly 60% of our interviewees lost their job during the pandemic and nearly most of them will have the fear that they will lose the job after the pandemic. So, this gave us a very urgent message that we should do something on that. That’s why at the beginning, we joined hands with about 17 NGOs and the Hunan disabled person Federation to develop an online course. It’s based on our previous project with Standard Chartered Bank. It’s named the road to inclusion. We had some online courses but we are not ready to make a path to public at that time. But the pandemic gave us very kind of urgent alert we should do it right now so within a few weeks we developed 59 online courses. Most of them about software skills, how to interact with your co-workers and how to prepare a kind of interviews, online jobs something like that and at this moment this online courses have got about 15,000 people go online and learn on that and this is the first development. The second development is that we collect jobs that people with disability can do at homes so we collected within two thousand and three hundred jobs and at this moment nearly three hundred of them fulfilled and they already get income from the work online and the third thing we do is we try to promote people’s understanding of people with disability through online videos so that’s the beginning of our interventions. But besides the interventions we also have one kind of activity called one-to-one job coach counseling and at the beginning we are not focusing on any type of disability in this intervention. But there’s one  one group from an age party from a company and a blind masseur massage therapist and they are helping each other, to understand each other and the situation and the blind massage therapy shared a lot of challenge he faced about his shop and his uncertain future so these cases report to our organizers and we realized that you know, blind massage therapist is a industry that only opened to people with visual impairment in China and they have very little of vocational options beyond that, which means that if the blind masseur industry is hit by the pandemic nearly most of the people working this industry they will lose their only option in life. So that’s why immediately we start another campaign to support blind massage therapies to a kind of increaser possibility to fight with the uncertainty and other volunteers they can provide other job counseling services and also they can choose to learn from some some other kind of senior therapies to share their experience on how to make their services good. So this making it very popular in the last one month. I have to say it’s very very quick that nearly 1 million people touched on the record live broadcast and six of them they are very senior. All kind of welcoming therapies they share how to support protect your health during the pandemic, they are offering massage therapies and they teach now disabled persons about how to keep fit. So this is very popular during the latter months and the second quite interesting hit is that we train blind people to make video clips online, and to share their concerns, share their stories and most importantly, share about their kind of workability and talk about their story and at this moment each video will get around 5 to 1,000 places and hit so it’s very kind of welcoming Haibin, I think you finished. We were just losing you there. A few questions that have come to you over our question-and-answer chat so I will bring them to you at the end, as soon as the other panelists have intervened. I thank you for that great testimony. Colleagues we have 344 participants so even more participants than the latest number we had in terms of people that had registered so we’re really excited about that and, of course, it shows the relevance of the topic. Our third speaker is Yves Veulliet from IBM. He’s the global disability and inclusion leader at IBM. He was the chair of the ILO global disability network last year and he has been a great champion in the work of the global business and disability network. And so Yves, over to you. Please feel free also, so that we can see you, to turn on your video if you want. Over to you, Yves. Thank you very much.  Yes a bit louder would help. Okay is it better now? It’s good now. All right so, I’m sorry I’m not going to turn my video on because the hair dresser are not allowed to visit people and believe me you don’t want to see me with my hair right now. So I will thank you very much Stefan for giving me the opportunity to share some of our solutions or best practices that we’ve been putting in place ever since this pandemic started. So I would like to insist on two aspects of the solutions that we, in IBM are putting in place here. As you know IBM is a global company so the major issue we have is to make sure that our policies implemented, comply the rules imposed by the authority of the country where we operate but also comply with the cultural differences and the constraints that we may face in terms of legislation, etc in a given country. So basically, I’m going to insist on one topic here. As you know and in many countries, especially Western, European and now in North America and Asia, the government strongly recommends -and in some cases imposes- employees to work from home or at least to become fine at home and so we, of course as a matter of fact it may be easier in the IT business than in other sectors of activities, proposed a work from home policy to all to employees because, you know, by the be given the nature of the business, some job roles may be more appropriate, doable to do that from from home. IBM has a long tradition of accommodating people with or without disability to work from home, depending on their type of role. So the rules right now in many countries and in many regions is, that unless you have a business critical reason to go to the office we recommend that you work from home. There is maybe one more caveat I would say, when it comes to making sure that our employees with disabilities can be as productive as when they work from home as they are when they work from the office. What I mean by that is that some of us living with the disability may need some accommodations to be productive as anybody else in the organization and, concretely, if you have a larger monitor because you live with a visual impairment in the office, how can we make sure that when, now that you are compelled to work from home at least until the crisis ends, how can we make sure that you get the same accommodations in your home office, like the one you have in your workplace in the IBM office? and so, we put in place a temporary procedure that you know, we basically, we propose to the employees with the acceptance and the validation of our security and real estate and Health Officer, we propose to the employees to carry themselves their IBM tools from the office to their home. We propose them to do that within a certain time frame so that we are sure that we can closely monitor and help them during the move and for so forth. This is easy for items that can be easily carried out like a monitor, like a software, like you know PCs keyboard, etc It may be of course it may be much more difficult with or some equipments like ergonomic chair or big monitors. In this case they may not even have enough room in the employees’ office Sorry, Home Office, to install this and so we are working now with our external vendors to make sure that we can find the best solutions possible for this temporary situation. And I believe what I’m saying here is of course true for all employees but I believe that, you know, focusing especially on the accommodation piece of our inclusion work in this time of crisis is extremely important and the second point I wanted to share with you here is that of course all your organization’s know that but, in time of crisis it’s important to communicate regularly with your workforce and especially when people are confined at home. And, as I said this is true for all employees with or without disability, but by definition, it’s even more important for people with disabilities who may be depending on their health condition. They may be more vulnerable to the virus and so what we’ve done concretely is that we have opened a special communication channel. We used slack. For those of you who are not familiar with that, it is a software application that is proposing real-time messaging to to organizations and businesses to use, and this is the software that we use and application that we use internally. And so, we have created a specific channel for people with disabilities working from home, so that every time they have questions or concerns or, you know, any kind of problem related to their accommodation or to their situation in general, they don’t feel isolated. And this channel is monitored by an HR professional so that you know, not only that we make sure that they therefore is get heard but also we do our best to provide them with a quality answer. That’s the two points I wanted to share with you. Thank you, Yves. Thank you. Thanks a million for for this excellent examples of what companies can do in this. There are a lot of questions coming in. Thank you for that, colleagues. We are answering some of those. Some will be forwarded to to the panelists. Many, many, many people are mentioning the whole issue of making telework accessible. Are we moving towards the new era, where telework will become much more frequent than it is now? Probably yes. The only caution we would always say from the disability side is that we should not see telework as the only magic solution for the employment of persons with disabilities. We have had some of those discussions some decades ago, but of course telework is there for persons with disabilities. I’m now going to give the floor  to John Messenger, another colleague from the ILO. He’s a specialist on working conditions in the ILO. One of the top word experts on the issue of working time and also a great expert on telework. John before I pass the floor to you in a minute, I just want you to include in your comments some reflection also on the mental health element because that is one of the concerns that are being expressed: what is happening with mental health? It is not something exclusive for persons with disabilities but of course I think it’s something that is of interest and concern to all of us. So John, over to you. Okay Thank you, Stefan. As far as I can tell, I can’t get video on here because I’m trying it and it’s telling me that it’s unable to work. No worries, we can hear perfectly. Okay, you can hear me fine. Okay, well thank you, Stefan. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this group. I didn’t realize it would be quite so huge but so much the better to get out the message. This is a issue, teleworking, that I’ve been working on for a very very long time. Starting when I was with the US Department of Labor back in the 80s and 90s and we were probably practicing it at least on an ad hoc basis before a lot of other people were, so it’s something I’ve seen evolve over time. I don’t have time to talk about all that but let me just say that I think it’s  terrific that you’re having this discussion and I thank you for including me in it, because even though I’m not talking about something that’s specific to individuals with disabilities I mean obviously this is an important mechanism. Certainly not the only mechanism, but a way of helping individuals with disabilities to gain and retain employment. This is something that’s actually discussed in my new book called telework in the 21st century it’s one of the specific kinds of responses that telework is used for . It’s used for various various different things. Interestingly telework got a big boost in the u.s. in the year 2000 from the avian flu pandemic and it was then that it was recognized as a mechanism for actually business’ continuity. For keeping business, and of course government organizations functioning in the context of crises. Both of these issues are talked about in my book. It’s amazing to me that that all of a sudden these things have come back and come back in such a profound way. It’s really unfortunate of course. It is a terrible roll this is taking on people, but at the same time, I think it is also something we can take as an opportunity, because there’s been a lot of resistance to teleworking. And, this isn’t good for anybody really, and certainly not for individuals with disabilities if this is really one of their only options. So let me just quickly say that I think it’s important that we keep this in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic but at the same time the fact of effective teleworking practices what makes it work well is pretty much the same. It’s a little bit different when you’re doing it full-time versus part of the time. I’m going to try to hit on those points as succinctly as I can and of course I’m open for questions later but, it is a little bit different animal when you’re doing it full-time as opposed to doing it a day a week or two days a week, or halftime which is usually about the most optimal situation. And one of the reasons, as I’ll talk about in a minute, is because when you telework full-time, your chance of becoming isolated from your community, from everyone you work with, your supervisor or the organization as a whole, become much higher. That’s the mental health issues that you’re talking about. The mental health issues often arise from this isolation but I’m sure that’s not something that individuals with disabilities are unfamiliar with. Probably they have this problem all the time but these are the basic practices I’ve been recommending and also from the video up in the ILO website there’s basically five, but then there’s one thing that kind of brings it all together. The first effective practices: management support: from the top of management from the very top from the CEO right down to the frontline supervisors. And why is that? because research has shown, in my book also, demonstrates manager or resistance to telework is a major barrier to this effective practice. Why is that? The case because managers, particularly frontline supervisors fear a loss of control. They’re accountable for results and they fear a loss of control because they’re used to managing in a certain way which is based on their ability to work with people in person or to work with people in closed context and not to do it remotely, which is a very different animal. But you need to make that work in order to get them to be comfortable. Also, you need a results-based management approach, which means results based on management, which we know in the ILO as well, is identifying objectives, tasks, milestones and then monitoring and discussing progress, but you gotta do it in a way that’s not too burdens. There’s a tendency -I’ve seen it already in the crisis- imposed burdensome reporting requirements which actually detracts from people’s ability to do that work, so this is really really crucial. Another thing is appropriate tools and training. This includes, for example, appropriate equipment: laptops sounds like a minor issue but my brother who heads up child care enforcement for the state of Oregon said that they couldn’t find any laptops to buy. A lot of his staff didn’t have laptops and they wanted to put in an order for laptops from one of their suppliers but the state of New York had already gotten an order in for over 8,000 laptops so they didn’t have any more left, so this is another issue if you don’t have the infrastructure in place, it’s hard to get it in place on a moment’s notice. You need good apps for teleworking, adequate tech support is crucial and training for both managers and teleworkers on how to do this which we really didn’t have a chance to do because we move so quickly into full-time telework mode, and as I said, there’s a real risk of social isolation associated with full-time telework you don’t have with part-time one or two days a week telework. And for that you need to make every effort to telework and to stay connected with supervisors, colleagues and the organization. This requires good communications tools but this also requires being proactive. I mean this I can’t emphasize this enough and this is directly related to mental health issues because we know about the link between isolation and poor mental health and various kinds of mental issues diseases and health issues. Clear expectations as another thing. Sounds very simple but it’s not. Everyone has to be clear about the results. Telework is just supposed to achieve what their conditions of employment are which should be the same as normal as similar as they can be. Hours of contactability, how to monitor progress and report results. As I’ve discussed before, and for that it’s crucial to set clear ground rules and particularly when workers are not available for work. That’s crucial. Set those rules, have a clear understanding of availability and respect those rules because you have to be able to disconnect and if you don’t, that has negative effects later and that affects not only your personal life, that also affects your productivity performance for your company or organization. Then, there’s something called time sovereignty that’s a fancy research expression we use which simply means teleworkers need flexibility to do their work when the times in place is most convenient for them and that requires a real sea change and how people think. And now they have to be contactable during normal business hours but that doesn’t mean they’re working straight through during normal business hours. They need this flexibility. Why? Because then they can schedule their paid work around their personal responsibilities, such as caring for children, elderly parents, sick family members. The issue these days you need that flexibility. You need to give people that ability, that sovereignty, that ability to figure out when and where they can work. What is best for them and that gets you the higher productivity and performance that companies are seeking. Finally you need a boundary management strategy, even if you have clear expectations  -that’s absolutely crucial-, but even if you have them, you need your own individual strategy for how you manage the boundary between paid work and personal life, because we know with telework, with any kind of remote working. there’s a potential real danger of blurring between work and personal life, and this can have all kinds of negative effects on both: on your work and on your personal life. So what you need is a dedicated workspace. That’s not always possible but it’s ideal. It needs to be free from disruptions and we need to also have the ability to disconnect. As I said you got to disconnect at specified times in order to, you know, be able to have the necessary rest and enough time for your personal life. Without that this just isn’t going to work for anybody. Finally there’s an extra added ingredient that is the essential piece of everything. You need trust because you just can’t monitor workers and you just can’t manage workers the normal way. You’ve got to manage based on results, and you’ve got to trust them, that they’re gonna do the job. Managers, teleworkers, and their colleagues they all need to trust each other. Telework simply can’t be effective without that trust. Easy to say, harder to do, but it’s absolutely essential for effective teleworking. That’s basically what I have, Stefan. John excellent presentation, as always. A lot of comments and questions that came over in the Q&A box. People were in fact mentioning trusts just before you were addressing it. Of course, the issue of telework full-time versus part-time, and as I mentioned before, now we need to be careful about seeing telework as the magic solution for persons with disabilities. It has a lot of problems but of course if it’s becoming a mainstream solution for people working in one day two days a week for home of course then that is available there for persons with disabilities and then of course we need to make sure that the adequate equipment adjustments and solutions are there that give people with disabilities the same opportunities to enjoy from that, from teleworking. We are moving on now to the next. Thank you for the many questions that we’re getting. I think it is also setting a record there. We have been trying to -I think that received so far sixty-six questions- we have answered some of them, and a few of them I will be forwarding to the panelists and some will probably need to be address more carefully also after the webinar. Our last speaker on the is Bella Gor. Bella is the head of legal and content at the UK business disability forum, which is a very active and very well accredited National Business and disability network. It has been operating for close to 30 years and Bella will give a bit of information about the community perspective around the UK situation. But, I am sure that many of the the comments will be relevant on a broader scale, so, Bella Thank you very much, Stefan, and hello to everyone from Scotland here in the UK. I’ve got a hard act to follow going after everybody else but as Stefan said we give advice to employers and to business in the UK, and what we aim to do is give really practical pragmatic advice to employers of disabled people and also to businesses on serving disabled customers as well so we’re a not-for-profit organisation we’ve been going since 1991. We’ve got about 300 members and 50% of our membership is global. We are not experts on Covid 19 or pandemics, but I am providing guidance and it seems that a lot of what we’ve been saying in the past has now come into its own. Particularly about teleworking, so we can move on to the next slide. I will just get into the guidance which is the questions that we are getting. This is not guidance on staying healthy -that’s coming from the World Health Organization, the UK government and your own governments- so moving on to the next slide, I’m going to sort of share some of the questions that we’ve been getting now. Assistive technology: yesterday the prime minister of the UK announced a total lockdown. Some of you will be familiar with this. More familiar with this than we are. So, we’ve been told that everyone is to stay at home unless they need to go out because they are a key worker. The have to go out for work: that is ambiguous-, or if they need to buy food or medicine or to care someone. So the government here is still saying that people can go to work if they cannot do their job from home, and that isn’t just if they are a key worker like a medic. So there is some suggestion that disabled people are being asked to go into work because employers haven’t been able to set up teleworking. And really, our advice is that, that is not an excuse for insisting that disabled people go into work during this time. Most employers can set up remote working teleworking and we’ve already heard about a few options: installing software onto computers. There is an issue with licenses. Licenses normally go with the computer, not the individual, so the license will be for the home computer and some employers are reluctant to buy another license. Talk to the providers about that, they are being flexible on their help your people to install teleconferencing, like this, like zoom, Microsoft teams, both of which have said that they will be captioning very soon. Microsoft teams. It is already possible to caption that but it doesn’t work brilliantly always and remember, good-meeting etiquette. We’re talking, a lot of people are having meetings regularly, we at business disability forum are having a daily catch up, but good-meeting etiquette is to have a chair. Stop people talking all at once and give someone who has a delay on their line either because of their internet or but because they’re catching up and there is a particular issue with people who are deaf or hard of hearing or hearing impaired, they may be using an interpreter who’s already also logging on. They might be trying to lip read and that is difficult when the internet and the screen quality is poor or they are reading, and it takes longer to read so do make sure that you don’t exclude people who are reading and that the chair goes round and gets everybody’s point of view. We’ve had questions on sickness absence and some employees, some disabled employees are worried that the absence that they take because of Covid 19 will be counted against them when all this is over because they’ve had a high level of absence. We are saying to employers: disregard this absence it’s best practice and in those countries where there is Disability Discrimination legislation you may also find yourself at the risk of disability discrimination claims. In the UK we’ve got something that has been recently introduced called furlough. The government has said that if an employer has to layoff an employee because there is no work for that employee to do, for example, if they can’t work from home then the government will pay 80% of that employees’ salary so that the employer keeps them on the payroll. This is to stop employers basically dismissing employees because there is no work for them to do there is one note of caution that I would say if you do have that sort of furlough in your own countries: It shouldn’t disproportionately affect disabled people and there is a risk that if only disabled people are furloughed and therefore only getting 80 percent of their salary, that it is a disability discrimination issue and a claim could be made. So, if you have two people who could do the job one doesn’t need any assistive technology to do it and the other one does if the person who needs the assistive technology to work from home is furloughed that could be discriminatory. Moving on to supporting the physical and mental health. Stefan asked particularly about this. There are some really simple practical things that managers can do remind people to move. It is ever so easy not to move. Now I have been working from home remotely since 2008. It’s out of choice so I’ve been a long-term teleworker and I’ve got lots of experience. The one thing I found is that unless I actually schedule the breaks and put them in my calendar I don’t move. I will work straight through lunch I work and I sit, and sitting is not good. Some people don’t have any option but if you can move, move in some shape or form and do go out if you are allowed to or at least open a window to get some fresh air. Employers, managers, you can circulate online yoga Fitness video links. A lot of these are now free and, in the home office in some countries you can get home workplace assessments done by Assessors who are doing this via Skype or video conference call. It’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing, to make sure that the home setup is safe. Now, I’ve seen some things like “Oh, use an ironing board so that you’ve got a standing desk and you can have it at your own height”. It’s an interesting idea. Be careful, ironing boards aren’t always that stable and they might not hold the weight of the monitor. Reminding people to sit in comfortable positions. It’s tempting to sit on your sofa, on the floor. It can cause back problems so do be careful about that and the point that John was making about flexibility, if you were a teleworker, as a manager it is tempting to make people work our usual hours: 9:00 to 5:00, with a break between one or two. That does not always work when you are working from home. People have got children. Schools here in the UK are now closed and people are homeschooling their children so, sometimes people are working in the evenings after their children have gone to bed. Sometimes they’re working early in the morning, and on emails it’s quite nice to have a little line to say I am sending this email at a time that suits me, I do not expect you to respond immediately please respond during your own working hours. It’s quite nice to have that as a general signature. Mental health: people who are not used to working from home can feel very isolated, that’s been mentioned already and if you’re not inclusive with your technology, for example with people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, autism, then there is a risk that these people will be even more isolated. Remember too that people are different and remember that you are different. Some people can’t switch off, they keep working. Those boundaries that John talked about. Others find a lack of routine really difficult. They had their routine in the workplace and this is a change and that can be very distressing. As managers please be mindful of that and help and support people through that. And there’s lots of blogs out there on the internet on working from home: what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, how you get up, you should never be in your pijamas, you should wear your work clothes. It’s well intentioned. What I would say as someone who’s worked from home for a long time: one size does not fit all. Find what suits you and a lot of this advice that’s very prescriptive can make people feel anxious. Find what works for you. You’re not doing it wrong. Everybody does things differently, some days you may need to be in your pijamas, and it’s about what the output. Are you still being productive as you can be? and are you looking after your own physical and mental health? it’s not about how you work. It’s about what you produce and it’s not about when you work, it’s about being effective and doing the job to the best of your ability. So don’t think that you have to do things in a particular way. Again staying in touch. There’s lots of whatsapp groups, signal groups, slack groups. They’re great for that, as I think it was the person from the ILO was saying or the IBM was saying. Getting in touch with managers and HR to get accommodation, but there’s a lot of these groups that are sharing jokes and just keeping people included that works for some people if you like the jokes and you like the videos and the gif is great. If you don’t, switch it off because some people find that it’s really distressing they’re being interrupted all the time and I would say that about notifications generally on social media and your email: have some downtime when you don’t have any notifications and just again can get your head down and work and try to stop listening to the news on a rolling program and getting push notifications about the news, because that is making people feel very anxious and I would say that not just now but generally when you go back, when things go back to norma,l this carries on and this is an opportunity as well. It’s a terrible time, it’s a terrible situation but it’s an opportunity for employers to really get their act together on this teleworking thing because it is the future. More people will be working from home, not just disabled people but people across the world and there is probably a suggestion. I think the employers will start closing offices, closing buildings because they are expensive and that is something to watch if this teleworking thing really takes off, as well, and finally if you are an employer, if you are a business on the customer side of things, it’s an opportunity as well. We had a survey done here in the UK, the click away pound that estimated that the UK business was losing 17.1 billion pounds from disabled people who had to click away from inaccessible websites they couldn’t use. The online platforms, this is an opportunity to get your act together and make your online and digital offerings accessible to people who use assistive technology, who are using screen readers and that’s not just where you can see and browse products, it’s when you get to checkout because that is the point at which a lot of a lot of things are inaccessible and people can’t buy and some of the things that disabled people and other people need to buy right now are essential items that they cannot go out to the shops to get. So, it’s a real opportunity but it’s also best practice to do. I think that’s my 7 minutes so I will stop there. Thank you very much, Bela. Colleagues, it’s just about one hour that we are on the webinar. We still have 330 colleagues registered. I know many of you have scheduled for an hour. I would like to suggest that we go on for another 15  minutes. So, for those of you who can stay with us, please stay. Hopefully also most of this panelists can stay, but if not, no worries. I would like to start. We have received a lot of questions, we have been able to answer a few of them. I have a few that I will now share with the panelists, but there are so many that we will not be able to address in the coming minutes. We are taking careful note of all of those and we will try to answer them and our replies will go to everybody who has registered to the meeting. You will allow me to to start with two questions coming from the World Economic Forum:  the World Economic Forum has been intensifying its attention to persons with disabilities over the last year many of you know the valuable 500 campaign which was launched in Davos early last year and was sort of reactivated or have had a second element this year. Now we were on a call with the World Economic Forum staff and Caroline Casey the founder of the Valuable 500 campaign on Monday, also to discuss collaboration in the context of Covid 19. The World Economic Forum is very active on that platform and it’s very important of course to get them also to visibilize the situation of persons with disabilities in the context of Covid 19 so I would like to share two questions that come from the colleagues from the World Economic Forum. Perhaps, I think Bella, you’ve already to some extent address one of them, perhaps if I might want to put you on the spot to try to answer the questions. They are not easy and I think they are valid questions to all of us and so let me read out the two questions: on one hand first question is how can we make sure that the private sector sees this as a learning moment on the issue and builds on this once the crisis is over? so I think we have had some ideas around that ,but I think it’s a very important big question. Furthermore, how can we ensure disability inclusion is seen as integral to business in light of the recession? I think to some extent goes back to my opening remarks in terms of the efforts that we all need to make to ensure that disability inclusion is seen as an element of both of the short-term response, but also more importantly of the longer-term response that should address the impact of the economic crisis so, Yves, I was wondering, and can I sort of unmute you to see whether you can say something to those very important questions Yves? so it seems they’re not able to an to unmute you. Yves, you can unmute yourself. Okay this is not working. Haibin, I had a few questions for you. Let me just see whether I can unmute you. Haibin? Yes, yeah I am here. Okay, then a few questions to you that have people were asking. Questions around what type of psychosocial support have you been able to offer? colleagues are very interested in some more it’s very specific examples on the type of jobs that you were able to sort of maintain or match. And I think one very important concern and pretty much would like to see what what your views on the situation of persons with intellectual and development disabilities. For some of which, working from home is even more complicated than for other, so I was wondering whether you had any views on these questions. Thank you for the question, actually at the beginning, when we’re setting up this campaign, there are a lot of people with disabilities saying that they need psycological support and also job counseling that’s why we set up a one-to-one counseling sections for each people who have this need. Okay I can open the camera. That’s good. Yes, we have at this moment 50 psychologists and also HR person who are familiar with job coach and job counseling and the nearly 50 people with disability get one-to-one sessions and each week, they will talk two hours to each other and that we find that it’s it’s a win-win situation and the people with disability will share their their concerns and their difficulty in finding jobs, but also a number of the volunteers or the psychologists, they also share some of possible ways but I think both ways they learn from each other so something we find it very useful. So, after three rounds of one-to-one sections, already fifty involved now, we are going to develop our online platform that people can sign up and people with disability, they can share their needs and we will collect them. Psychologists, they can donate or kind of provide volunteer time for them, so this is the first one. The second one is about how to match the the telework and/or people disability. So we also have a group of job coach online so they have, for each superiors and to analyze the jobs and also to talk with people with disabilities. And, before they signed up with the job, the job coach will talk with people with disability who are interested and to understand their interests and also their capacity, and then they will match this HR person and also the people with disabilities. So this is through the online support and, the third one is of people with intellectual developmental disability. At this moment we only have like two cases who are involved and both of them are represent by their parents: one is a mother who is doing some kind of handcraft making and also teaches her son to do the same thing so what we do is, we support his mother, and we give her some ways to sell this handcraft. Also, this kind of income will go back to her son so that’s the situation in China. Stefan, I hope that will work thank you. Thank you, Haibin. Colleagues, we have a few more minutes. I will ask now my colleague Jürgen, who has been doing a great job to prepare all this, and all my team and big thanks to them. We are putting a poll on the screen. All that we are asking you is to fill it in. There is still two hundred and seventy people on the call so it’s really great to you have your feedback. You just have to tell us with one click. Just tell us whether this has been worthwhile your time or not. I’m sure that there are many questions that we have not been able to address. People have raised their concerns, colleagues from Nepal about, of course the availability and affordability of IT equipment in that context. What shall we do with with social protection? it’s clear that social protection needs to play a key role in this context and such protection continues not to be sufficiently disability-inclusive, so I think it’s an important reminder that we need to come up with better social protection solutions. People have addressed the issue of caregivers of persons with disabilities you cannot be person with disabilities caregivers, again situations that are additionally challenging in the current context. A lot of interaction has been there. Accessibility solutions a lot of it, a lot of attention has been on the issue around mental health. John Messenger, many of you asked whether there is a possibility to have access to your e-book, that you have mentioned. So we are going to collect all these questions and suggestions because I think many of them were very useful suggestions, and we are gonna prepare something with that immediately. I also wanted to mention that we are about to launch some, still struggling to get the right name. It’s probably sort of a urgent call for action. Could appear that it will come out more or less with the summary of the messages that come out of this webinar. It is really about visibilizing the situation of persons with disabilities in the current context, where we all know that there’s so many other priorities, so many other groups that unless we are not vocal, proactively vocal, unless we don’t remind all relevant stakeholders and, I think we had a good number and good variety of these stakeholders today on the call, if we don’t sort of take it on us to to reach out to remind people that in the responses to the crisis, particular attention needs to be given to persons with disabilities. If we don’t do that, there’s a huge risk that the crisis will just make things much worse and none of the sort of potential lessons that could be drawn from the from crisis will be implemented. So, thanks. Thank you, thanks a lot for contributing to the poll. We see that, with a very few exceptions, all of you thought that it was a very high or significant high level of interest. We are pleased by the very high number of people that actually attended. I think 350 was the peak of the of the webinar. We are gonna share the recording of the webinar with with all of you, we are going to prepare a Youtube version of this where we also gonna sort of fine-tune the captioning.  and want to prepare also other language versions so that people can also see the subtitles as at least in French, Spanish, we rely on our colleague Haibin for Chinese, and be able to try our best with other. To produce this call for action. We are about to finalize it. and also make it available in different languages. I’m sure that we will be probably -rather soon- organize a second webinar, perhaps addressing some of the questions we could not address today. I would like to thank again our five speakers, but in particular I would like to thank all of you who have found the time to connect with the webinar, to share with us your concerns, your questions your recommendations. Very important because we really need them.  Its the moment for for action. The tools exist, we are aware of how to make things disability inclusive, but we need to make sure that in the wake of the of the crisis, these issues are not put on outside of the priority list and starts to be forgotten. Colleagues, thank you again for all your attention. Please be aware that we are going to soon share all this information. Thank you to all, have a good rest of the day wherever you have been listening to our webinar. Thank you very much

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