Online jobs eyed as perfect opportunities for PWDs

MANILA, Philippines – The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) is pushing for the establishment of nationwide free public Wi-Fi so that persons with disabilities (PWDs) would have better access to online jobs.

During the launching of the 39th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, NCDA Director Carmen Zubiaga said they are now working on helping PWDs gain employment that allows them to work from home. 

"Iyan ang isa sa mga tugon natin sa mga may kapansanan na nahihirapan magbiyahe... Iyong online job puwede nilang gawin sa kanilang tahanan," Zubiaga said on Monday, July 17. 

(That's one of our responses to PWDs having a hard time commuting. Online jobs will let them work from home.)

The NCDA provides training for PWDs so they can be qualified for online jobs. These include posts such as virtual assistants, encoders, and transcriptionists, among others. 

"Marami na tayong PWDs na employed. Katulad noong sa Davao, meron tayong Davao Digital Association of PWDs kung saan sila ay naka-online job at kumikita ng maganda," Zubiaga said. 

(There are many PWDs who are already employed. Like in Davao, we have the Davao Digital Association of PWDs where the members have online jobs and are earning well.) 

Zubiaga said the NCDA is coordinating with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for this initiative.

Senate Bill 1277 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act is still awaiting the final nod of Congress before it is submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is also among the priorities of the government. It seeks to address the country's slow internet, and could mean more for PWDs who want to grab opportunities online.

Aside from online jobs, PWDs may also seek a grant from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to help them set up their own businesses. (READ: Japanese teacher boosts livelihood capacities of SPED graduates in Bohol

The agency's Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) is implementing the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Program (DILEEP) for workers in vulnerable sectors. 

Through DILEEP, some 14,000 PWDs nationwide have already established their own businesses such as massage centers and sari-sari stores. The BWSC gives up to P20,000 worth of raw materials and equipment to help vulnerable workers establish their small enterprises. (READ: Discounts, VAT exemptions now available to PWDs

Database for PWDs 

While there are several projects targeted for the sector, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said there is still a need to build a PWD database. 

"The DICT helps the NCDA and the DSWD in gathering information on how many Filipinos are PWDs. Global estimates say PWDs comprise 15% of the population. But in the Philippines, we have yet to determine the exact figures," Social Welfare Undersecretary Malou Turalde-Jarabe said in Filipino.

And even if there would be an estimate of the number of PWDs in the country, the government would still have to assess the data so that the proper approach to each form of disability could be identified.

Turalde-Jarabe said they will convene the various agencies on July 31 to put together all efforts in addressing the concerns of the sector.

"It's specified in the Philippine Development Plan that the convergence approach must be implemented by the government agencies when it comes to the needs of the vulnerable and marginalized sectors," she said. 

Latest available data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) based on the 2010 census puts the number of PWDs at 1.4 million.

Zubiaga said the Department of Health (DOH) is now working with local government units (LGUs) so that their own lists of PWDs will be uploaded online. (READ: LGU empowers persons with autism through employment)

So far, there are 72,000 PWDs in the available online list. But Zubiaga said this may account for just one LGU since Quezon City alone has identified 50,000 PWDs there. –

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.