United Voice (Self-Advocacy Society of Persons with Learning Disabilities Selangor & Kuala Lumpur)




Solving the Employment Crisis of PWLD
(Persons with Learning Disabilities)

A. Background:

CBRs and Income Generating Projects

Employment for PWLD in Malaysia is limited. Most PWLD depend on sheltered workshops and CBRs to provide employment opportunities. Currently, there are 274 CBRs in Malaysia. In my observation, many CBRs lack the know-how on setting up an income generating work place for PWD.

United Voice: A Model Self-Help Organization of PWLD

United Voice has experimented on an income generating Employment Project for more than 3 years for PWLD. This project has two main purposes which include:

  1. On-the-job vocational training and
  2. Provide an income yielding employment

This project has so far proven successful. It is employing 15 workers with PWLD and one fulltime assistant project coordinator who is a PWLD. However, this course has pointed out to me that the Employment Project of United Voice could further improve in its financial management and marketing strategies. United Voice should seek to improve these aspects as it continues to develop as a model of a self-help and self-advocacy organisation led by PWLD.

United Voice Reaching Out to CBRs

Since 2005, United Voice has started influencing some CBRs to consider establishing income generating employment by sharing experiences and their success stories. Self-Advocacy was also emphasised in each promotion to help CBR leaders realise that self-advocacy is an essential skill to empower PWLD to lead an independent life.

United Voice aims to continue its mission but realised that they can’t achieve this mission effectively by working alone. Two of the projects conducted in 2005 and one in 2006 (involving 9 CBRs) were appreciated but it was just a touch and go effort. No follow-up work was done after the training as United Voice does not have sufficient resources – financial and human resource.

United Voice can play a very important role in imparting its vision and experiences on creating employment for PWLD and promoting self-advocacy. Through this course, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Promotion for PWD, I am convinced that United Voice is on the right trek and should continue to empower PWLD by strengthening vocational rehabilitation, self-advocacy movement and employment promotion.

United Voice Advocates for Improvement in Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment for PWLD

United Voice is working together with a key officer of the National Department of Special Education in her research on Vocational Training for PWLD. This would be a long term effort which United Voice will endeavor. United Voice is committed to advocate for the need to develop better strategy and opportunities for vocational rehabilitation of PWLD in Malaysia. United Voice strongly advocates that:

  1. Vocational training should begin in school and self-advocacy should be part of the curriculum of vocational training for PWLD.
  2. The government should expend the vocational rehabilitation training opportunities for PWLD.
  3. More employment should be created by the government, NGOs and private sectors for PWLD.

These are key agendas of United Voice in advocating for PWLD in Malaysia.

B. Goals For The Next Two Years:

  1. To help United Voice yield a higher income for its Employment Project by improving the management.
  2. To assist United Voice in promoting employment for PWLD in CBRs by introducing income generating employment and self-advocacy.

C. Targeted Objectives

I. To improve the management of Employment Project of United Voice in:

1. Financial management

  1. Use charts for financial report to help the committee of United Voice analyse the financial situation more effectively. This will help them in planning and deciding future projection.
  2. Cost of depreciation has to be included to ensure that sufficient reserve is available for upgrading or renewing premises or equipments.

Marketing strategies

  1. To produce more variety of cards and products to broaden our market
    • To produce name cards for existing supportive corporate companies such as General Electrics, The Edge, High Kay, Transmile and Dynamic Search. United Voice should also develop more potential corporate clients.
    • To produce customised cards for the above companies.
    • To produce wedding cards – target on existing supporting churches and their members.
  2. To purchase an industrial printer (Ricoh Colour Printer 8100) to produce more variety of cards in bulk to meet the potential market mentioned above.

II. To Promote Income Generating Employment to CBRs for PWLD by:

  1. Sharing the model of United Voice Employment Project
  2. Conducting training on management of an income generating project
  3. Promoting self-advocacy – to educate PWLD on their rights, leadership skills and independent living

Possible Approaches of Training:

Option I: To collaborate with Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation and Department of Social Welfare in their current training programme.

Option II: To conduct regional training at four main regions – north, south, central and east coast of Peninsula Malaysia.

D. Related Knowledge And Experiences Acquired To Be Applied in Action Plan

This course has provided many valuable knowledge and practical exposures which will equip me to be a more effective support staff for United Voice. Most knowledge acquired is applicable in my country.

The importance of legislations in promoting equality and equity for PWD was strongly emphasised. This has challenged me to study the legislations in my country more thoroughly and advocate for PWD in my country so that they will experience equality and equity that will improve their quality of life.

The following are some of the specific knowledge learnt which will be applied in this action plan:

  1. PWD should be aware of their rights and privileges provided by legislations and laws.
  2. Government should be committed to provide financial support for NGOs that provide services for PWD.
  3. Self-Help organisations that emphasised on income generating employment can boost the morale of PWD. (eg: workshop in Atsugi and Fukushima). Such workshops are empowering and liberating because it provide:
    1. Effective on-the-job vocational training
    2. Income for PWD
    3. Leadership opportunities
  4. Business planning and management skills such as developing an analytical and critical thinking are essential for all managers of PWD sheltered workshops.
  5. Self-advocacy movement of PWLD must be strengthened – they should experience equal opportunities as other disability groups that are given opportunities to run their own self-help movement. Persons with physical disabilities need high technology aids and accessibilities to assist them for independent living. However, PWLD need resourceful persons/facilitators to draw out their abilities and empower them.
  6. Vocational training should begin in school for persons with severe physical disabilities and PWLD
  7. Networking and collaboration between NGOs, Private Companies and Government should always be encouraged.
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