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Empowerment of Deaf and Hearing-Impaired people

Ensuring real access to education and employment is essential for enabling equal participation of deaf and hard of hearing persons in life and work of the community. Without access to knowledge, people with hearing impairment cannot ensure adequate employment, which leads to lifelong dependency, poverty and social exclusion, and all this ads up to the existing stigma.

  There are around 4000 persons with hearing impairment living in Belgrade. They feel enormous pressure of living in a transitional country. According to a research conducted on the territory of Serbia , 79% of persons with disabilities is unemployed, while the unemployment among the general population is around 20%. More than 70% of persons with disabilities had very low income and they belong to the category of poor. According to the data of the Serbian Association of deaf and hard of hearing most of the people with hearing impairment finishes the school for manual occupations.

Since 2008 IAN has been striving to ensure trainings in modern skills for persons with hearing disabilities in order to support their successful inclusion in the labor market and increase their chances for better employment opportunities. In this initiative IAN has been closely cooperating with the Serbian Association of deaf and hard of hearing persons as well as Belgrade Association of deaf and hard of hearing persons. The professional empowerment programs have been supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Microsoft.


In 2010 IAN continued supporting persons with hearing impairment through different educative activities. The program of empowerment included computer courses according to the ECDL curricula, social skills courses, and . In total 20 participants completed 4 IT courses (Windows, Word, Excel and Internet+e-mail) while 15 of them successfully passed ECDL exams and acquired ECDL Start certificate. Out of these participants 14 of them were motivated to attend training and pass another 3 ECDL exams (PowerPoint, Access and Theory ) and they obtained ECDL Full certificate.

Project beneficiaries who completed basic computer training also had a chance to attend education in graphic design in Photoshop . Ten participants completed this course.

Social skills courses equipped the participants with knowledge and skills relevant for job search process and successful presentation before the potential employers.

Within this project IAN organized also a course in Gardening with theoretical and practical component. The participants who attended the course had an opportunity to learn and practice some concrete gardening skills in Belgrade Gardening companies - Serbia Forests and City Greenery

Finally, 11 participants did their practical training for the position of an Administrative Assistant in IAN.

The project is the result of the longterm cooperation with the Serbian Association of deaf and hard of hearing persons, and the funding for its realization came from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Microsoft Serbia .



The project has been inspired by the measures from the Strategy for Employment within the National Poverty Reduction Strategy that recommend encouraging employment and activation of persons with disabilities. The measures include increasing access of these persons to education and enabling them to acquire higher levels of knowledge and professional skills through designing more versatile education programmes.  

With this project IAN created an education programme that included intensive trainings in IAN Computer school, and social skills courses, and for those interested in initiating own business, entrepreneurship courses were organised. The lectures were held with the assistance of a sign language interpreter. Beneficiaries had a chance to gain knowledge harmonised with modern economic trends. They acquired computer skills needed in a modern office environment. For the knowledge demonstrated in the field of information technologies and use of personal computers, and for passing the appropriate tests the participants were awarded certificates at the ceremony after the press conference. 17 beneficiaries acquired the international ECDL certificate (European Computer Driving License) . Nine of them passed the basic package of 4 exams and got ECDL Start certificate, and 8 of them passed all 7 exams and received ECDL Full certificate. Three most successful beneficiaries became certified ECDL testers, which means that they could be engaged in future projects of IAN and other organisations which have the component of computer education and taking ECDL exams for persons with hearing impairment.


At the social skills courses the trainees learned to write a CV and how to find and apply for jobs using IT technologies. In addition, a set of basic trainings in entrepreneurship was organised.

With their extraordinary motivation, interest and by the success achieved the beneficiaries showed that such and similar programmes and important and needed for this target group and they contribute to raising their education level and increasing their chances at the labour market thus leading to their better social inclusion.

Milan Kabiljo, a young unemployed forestry engineer, one of the programme participants said at the conference: "The programme like this is necessary and useful for young people, especially persons with disabilities, in order to facilitate their easier employment. I am convinced that by applying the knowledge we gained it would be easier and quicker for us to find a job within our field of expertise. I would like to thank IAN for good training conditions, lecturers who were experts and always ready to give additional explanations."


In 2008 IAN realized the project "Professional empowerment of deaf and hard of hearing persons". Within the project 24 persons with hearing impairment had an opportunity to gain skills and knowledge needed in a modern working environment and demanded at the local labour market, which would help them to find a job or apply for better positions.

  The education includes intensive classes at the IAN Computer school as well as Social Skills Courses , and for those interested in initiation of own business we organized entrepreneurship courses. If they demonstrate sufficient IT knowledge in using a personal computer, and pass the appropriate tests, course participants have a chance to obtain an international certificate called European Computer Driving License. Three most successful participants will attend practical training for becoming IT teachers and certified ECDL testers. They will be engaged in future IAN projects related to work with the people with hearing impairment. The second project goal is professional empowerment of the staff from the associations of people with hearing impairment interested in IT education, who use personal computers at work.

This project was implemented in partnership with the Serbian Association of deaf and hard of hearing persons, with the financial support of the Ministry of labour and Social Policy , Microsoft Serbia and Open Society Fund .

This is what Vesna P., a thirty-year-old course participant, said about the courses: " This education program means a lot to me for my future employment. I expect to find a job as a physical therapist in a health institution, and I need to use a computer for scheduling patients, keeping medical records and writing reports. So far, I have attended and successfully completed exams in 3 courses - Windows, Word and Excel, and I hope that I will successfully finish the other four courses and get the ECDL certificate. "

This professional empowerment program aimed at providing additional education leading towards improvement of economic position and decrease of unemployment among the people with hearing impairment.



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