Sharing vision - Bringing Empowerment

Current Situation of Implementation of Assistive Infrastructure and Devices for Persons with Disabilities in Vocational Training and Employment

  • Perform: Le Thao (Translator: Linh Dieu Tran)
  • 22/07/2021

The needs for commuting, vocational training, and work are equally important to everyone. However, for persons with disabilities, these needs require much greater specificity, hence, the State of Vietnam has issued many supportive policies on infrastructure and equipment for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment. Ensuring accessible assistive infrastructure and devices in vocational training centers, job placement centers, and enterprises helps promote opportunities for persons with disabilities to be treated equally and equitably, as well as encourage the contributions made by employees with disabilities in society.

1. Some policies on assistive infrastructure and devices for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment

Assistive infrastructure and devices play an important role in vocational training and employment for persons with disabilities. Therefore, developing and maintaining them are always matters of concern and areas of research, which all aim to find out appropriate and effective solutions for perfecting the legal system and law enforcement mechanisms, along with creating more opportunities for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment in Vietnam.

1.1. Policies on assistive infrastructure for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment

Clause 3, Article 3 of the Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010 provides that all agencies, organizations, enterprises, and individuals employing persons with disabilities must ensure suitable working conditions and working environment according to their particular needs. In addition, Clause 1, Article 159 of the Labor Code 2019 also emphasizes that employers shall ensure appropriate working conditions, proper working tools, occupational health and safety at the workplace as well as periodic health check-ups as appropriate for employees with disabilities. In the case employers fail to do so, employers shall commit an administrative violation according to Decree No. 144/2013/ND-CP [1]. Besides, the Ministry of Construction also promulgated the National Technical Regulation QCVN 10:2014/BXD on construction for disabled access to buildings and facilities. This regulation stipulates the technical requirements that must be complied with when building new or renovating construction works to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Photo: Persons with disabilities attend vocational training at a woodworking shop in Thai Hoa Town, Nghe An Province

Also, the Program to support persons with disabilities for the 2021-2030 period was approved in accordance with the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 1190/QD-TTg dated August 5, 2020. Accordingly, by the end of 2025, 200,000 persons with disabilities who require and are eligible shall be supported with vocational training, job creation (by the end of 2030, this number will increase up to 300,000), and investment in facilities and equipment for 06 specialized education institutions to provide vocational training for persons with disabilities in 06 regions nationwide and vocational training facilities for persons with disabilities.

1.2. Policies on assistive devices for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment

Currently, according to Article 26 of the Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010 and guiding documents, the State provides project-based funding support for agencies and organizations that conduct scientific research on persons with disabilities, and train experts and technicians in orthopedics and rehabilitation. Establishments manufacturing assistive devices for persons with disabilities to study and work are entitled to loans with preferential interest rates and tax exemption and reduction as per the law. In addition, according to Clause 7, Article 4 of the Law on Enterprise Income Tax 2008, amended and supplemented in 2013, assistive devices for persons with disabilities to study and work, donated or supported by non-refundable aid programs and projects or foreign organizations and individuals, will be exempt from taxation as per the tax law [2].

In general, assistive infrastructure and devices for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment in Vietnam are currently reflected in many different legal documents.

2. Current situation of implementation of policies on assistive infrastructure and devices for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment in Vietnam

2.1. Infrastructure for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment

In order to assist persons with disabilities to participate in vocational training and employment, the authorities of all levels, branches, and localities have taken many practical measures in recent years, which have been greatly appreciated by their dwellers. Many localities have focused on investing in the development of transport infrastructure, such as upgrading and embellishing sidewalks and renovating parks and public spaces to create favorable conditions for persons with disabilities to commute. However, many works have not really met this goal when it comes to vocational training and employment. Up to now, the State has only issued the general National Technical Standards on construction to ensure accessibility, but not on workshop equipment, tools, and working equipment for persons with disabilities in each type of enterprises. Besides, arranging suitable labor tools is an issue concerning them because it increases the production costs [3]. 

In fact, only a few public works built to enhance mobility of persons with disabilities can actually ensure accessibility for them. As stated in the Report on the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2016 in Vietnam by the Vietnamese Federation on Disabilities, 61.2% of persons with disabilities participating in the survey have difficulty accessing facilities in the workplace, while 59.9% and 51.9% have trouble accessing public transport and public facilities respectively. According to the statistics by the Ministry of Construction in the same report, only 20.8% of educational facilities; 11.3% of convention centers and office buildings; 3.8% of stadiums, post offices, railway stations, and border gates meet the accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities. In such a situation, up to now, the goal of the roadmap specified in Article 40 of the Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010, which is that all public works must be built and renovated to accommodate persons with disabilities by 2020, has not been achieved.

Photo: Persons with hearing and speech disabilities work at 5 Colors Handicraft Co., Ltd

In addition, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays a particularly important role for persons with disabilities, contributing to supporting persons with disabilities to overcome barriers to social inclusion. However, the percentage of households with disabilities owning the ICT apparatus is lower than that of non-disabled households, namely TV (87.7% versus 94.4%); internet subscription (16.8% versus 30.9%); computers (13.7% vs. 28.6%); and telephones (84.7% versus 96.2%). There is a large gap in using mobile phones between the persons with disabilities and non-disability (38.85% vs. 73.09%). Internet usage is not only different among groups of persons with disabilities, but there are also large disparities between persons with disabilities and non-disability. The percentage of non-disabled people using the Internet is 6.5 times higher than that of persons with disabilities (42.9% versus 6.7%). Similarly, the disparity between persons with disabilities and non-disabled people is different by area, gender and region: Urban area is 4.7 times, rural area is 7.4 times; Male is 5.5 times, female is 7.2 times [4]. Also, statistics show significant gaps in access to communication technology. Nearly 43% of non-disabled people have access to the internet, compared to only 6.7% of persons with disabilities. The gap in mobile phone usage is 73.09% compared to 38.85%. Those gaps are similar by gender and rural vs. urban residence [5].

It can be seen from the initial results that the number of people using information technology is still low and the trend of slow growth is not commensurate with the speed of modern information development in society. Most persons with disabilities and their families are in difficult economic circumstances so they have less chance of access, thus, the percentage of persons with disabilities accessing the internet is very limited. In addition, infrastructure has not met the demand; the internet is not available at all times and everywhere; and there’s a lack of tools to support persons with disabilities access to information technology, especially in remote areas, rural areas, mountainous regions, and islands. 1.75% of persons with disabilities in poor households have internet access compared to nearly 8% of those in non-poor households with internet access, and only 1.47% of persons with disabilities belonging to the poorest group have access to the internet compared to 24.98% of those in the richest group [6].

2.2. Assistive devices for persons with disabilities in vocational training and employment

The state budget only provides funds to buy tools and means to support rehabilitation for persons with extremely severe disabilities who are helpless and unable to take care of themselves are admitted to foster care at social welfare facilities [7]. Currently in Vietnam, there are only regulations on assistive devices for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities but not for their vocational training and employment, which reduces the quality of the training and working environment for persons with disabilities. Most of these devices are donated by benefactors, non-refundable aid programs and projects, foreign organizations and individuals, etc. A large number of persons with disabilities living in difficult situations without assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, and orthopedic appliances such as prosthetic legs, limbs, or braces are still not supported by the State, thus, can merely wait for donations from individuals and charities.

In addition, despite policies on supporting manufacturers of assistive devices for the study and work of persons with disabilities in their demand for preferential loans and tax exemption and reduction, they have not yet been specified in the implementation and application process, therefore, have not provided incentives to businesses manufacturing equipment to assist persons with disabilities.

3. Recommendations

In order to effectively support persons with disabilities to access jobs and vocational training, many aspects need to be considered, including infrastructure renovation, curriculum design, technical training, soft skills training, admissions, job placement, fundraising, advocacy, etc. Accordingly, it is necessary to:

- Supplement regulations that clearly stipulates ensuring adequate equipment for candidates with disabilities when taking the test on paper or on computer. If the organizer of the national vocational skill assessment cannot arrange adequate equipment, the candidate may use their personal equipment that has been tested for reliability and truthfulness;

- Supplement detailed regulations on the support level for improving working conditions and environment suitable for persons with disabilities depending on the number of official employees with disabilities, their impairment level and size and type of each business.

- Supplement guiding documents on ensuring implementation of provisions on building an inclusive and accessible working environment for persons with disabilities, including standards for equipment and furniture inside the office, under the Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010;

- Provide financial support, technical assistance or in-kind assistance for businesses to improve working environments and public spaces to make them accessible to persons with disabilities;

- Provide further funding for the National Employment Fund; consider allocating funds to facilitate grants of subsidized loans for employees with disabilities and entrepreneurs with disabilities in the National Employment Fund, as well as for members of socio-political organizations and social organizations;

- Ensure that the advertisement for the training courses is provided in accessible formats so that the vocational training opportunities reach the desired target audience;

- Promulgate supportive policies on assistive devices for all persons with disabilities to study and work in accordance with the financial situation.

It is worth noting that the above recommendations are just initial steps in the overall solution that we have to put into action in the near future. The implementation of these solutions will help achieve the goal of the policies for persons with disabilities, which is to ensure rights of persons with disabilities, encouraging and supporting them to participate in vocational training and work effectively, thereby improving the quality of their lives, facilitating social inclusion and contributing to the development of the society./.

[1] Decree No. 144/2013/ND-CP on sanctioning administrative violations regarding the protection, social support and child care, Article 13, Clause 2.

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[2] Law on Enterprise Income Tax 2008, Article 4, Clause 7, (Amended and Supplemented in 2013) on income tax exemption to enterprises: “7. Received financial support used for educational, scientific research, cultural, artistic, charitable, humanitarian and other social activities in Vietnam.”

[3] National Committee on Persons with Disabilities (NCD), Report on Researching, Evaluating the Implementation of the Provisions of the Labor Code and Related Documents on Employees with Disabilities, (2018), p. 33.

[4] General Statistics Office, National Survey on Persons with Disabilities 2016, (2018), pp. 20-22.

[5] ibid., p. 145.

[6] ibid., pp. 146, 147.

[7] Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010, Article 45