Visual Handicap: For More Inclusive Entrepreneurship

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The number of French people affected by a vision disorder is estimated at 1.7 million. However, only 10% of websites are accessible to blind and visually impaired people and 50% of visually impaired people in France are unemployed. Policies for businesses exist, but it is important to be able to exceed legal obligations. With this in mind, the National Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired (UNADEV) is launching a call for projects before 10 September 2019 at the national level in favour of the inclusion of the society of blind and visually impaired people. To shift the perception of visual disability from a constraint to an opportunity is the objective of UNADEV, which is particularly committed to the areas of autonomy, professional integration and social inclusion.

UNADEV, a crucial Bordeaux player for visual impairment

Founded in 1929 in Bordeaux, the National Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired is a recognized association of assistance and charity. This means that its activities must contribute to improving the living conditions of people in precarious situations such as visual impairment. A historically established player in Bordeaux, UNADEV is also expanding on the national territory thanks to its eight regional centres and numerous local partner associations. In addition to supporting and assisting visually impaired people for their social and professional integration, UNADEV also organises awareness-raising activities aimed at the general public and regional policy makers.

UNADEV is also involved in organizing a network of actions in the territory. This is particularly the case with the establishment of the Lucie Care endowment fund, chaired by Alain Ribet, which aims to support young people with visual impairments in their development in the interests of equal opportunities. Within Lucie Care, business leaders with visual impairments are members of the Board of Directors. In order to be selected, projects must pursue objectives compatible with professional integration and social inclusion. The project should be able to collect and produce data on visual impairment but also to take concrete actions to improve the daily lives of visually impaired people.

As for other neo-Aquitaine initiatives, the Regional Institute of the Deaf and Blind also has
an office in Lège-Cap-Ferret where it is planned in 2019 to organize training courses in new communication techniques for young people with visual impairments, in partnership with Lucie Care.

Actions for visually impaired entrepreneurs

When it comes to inequality, the professional world can be very glaring. This is why UNADEV seeks to mobilize institutional and economic partners who would not be very much mobilized by these issues. In the field of inclusive entrepreneurship, raising awareness of French Tech thus looks fundamental. In particular, the aim is to get these partners to include in their actions a component on visual disability. The call for projects launched by UNADEV, worth two million euros, is aimed at a multitude of actors: associations of course, but not only: public bodies but also private companies. Thus, the study “Companies, work, disability: prospective 2025” carried out in 2015 is an initiative of Societe Generale and partners of LAdapt, the association for the social and professional integration of people with disabilities. These private partners include private companies such as Orange, SNCF, SUEZ Environment etc. Several major challenges have been identified as a result of their collaborative work, including vocational training as a key to the integration of people with disabilities or the need to highlight SMEs as a priority target for the employment of people with disabilities.

Entrepreneurship is thus a main lever of action to act in favour of inclusion since UNADEV partners with the cooperative agency Ellyx, specialist in innovative social project management, to support project owners. Among the platforms made available to inclusive entrepreneurship are also platforms such as Handipreneurs, a crowdfunding platform that helps entrepreneurs with disabilities with financial donations. The aim of its founder Jean-Philippe Murat is to make it clear that there is a life after disability and a life especially professional. Entrepreneurial adventure requires a lot of investment and social, sociological and environmental barriers can be real obstacles to this desire to undertake.

Innovation and initiatives for people with disabilities are increasingly focused on values of autonomy and inclusion. Entrepreneurship epitomizes these values perfectly. UNADEV, a Bordeaux actor, works every day to report on the challenges faced by visually impaired people. On the territory of Bordeaux, there is still a long way to go to make Bordeaux, a city that is the engine of visual impairment. For example, the city of Bordeaux can work to promote access to the establishments labelled “Tourism and Handicap”, which are currently only 54% accessible to visually impaired people.

Justine ANGIBAUD

Sources:

Official UNADEV website

Lucie Care

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