Innovations in Access: People with Disabilities in Vietnam

By Scott Crichton

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Lan, our exchange host, directs a Disability Rights Group in Hanoi. She arranged for us to meet with Luu Thi Anh Loan, who heads DRD- the Disability Research and Capacity Development organization in Ho Chi Minh City which is where we engaged her in a heartening and informative interview. Loan recently returned from the U.S. where she received her Masters Degree at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

DRD provides an ambitious and innovative program that raises awareness about people with disabilities (PWD) through events, workshops, working with parents and public officials, and employers from the private sector. The integration of all of these is a challenge that ultimately intends to empower PWD and their families.

Loan spoke of an employment pilot project a training for individuals to develop job interview skills. Employers who hire PWD in Vietnam receive a 3% tax break as an incentive. Training is also offered for people who are self employed and work from home thanks to the help from a cadre of volunteers. The program offers small grants for start up and/or shoring up such small business enterprises.

Like disability rights groups in the US, they also are engaged in expanding accessibility and reasonable accommodations for PWD to public and private spaces. One innovative example of this is a smart phone application that they developed to help identify what places in the community are accessible.

They also have an independent living project, thanks to funding from a Japanese corporation for technical support and advocacy, for increasing the numbers of people who can serve as personal assistants.

DRD produced an inspiring and moving video “Path to Dignity” that makes a compelling case on why this work is essential. Check out this short video.

Check them out at www.drdvietnam.org

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