People of all ages with disabilities face severe challenges in Iran. Some families hide their disabled children, according to Majid Qadami, the head of Iran’s Special Education Organization.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Qadami said: “The number of children who attend special schools for the disabled should be one and a half times greater than the current figure. Many disabled children are either kept at home or sent to regular schools.”
Qadami added: “The Welfare Organization and the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) have criticized the government for its reluctance to hire disabled people.”
Meanwhile, Homayoun Hashemi, a member of the Majlis Health and Welfare Committee, has called on the government to stop its discriminatory employment practices against the disabled.
Mr. Hashemi said: “Ten percent of the country’s population is disabled. The government has used various excuses for rejecting disabled job applicants, many of whom hold impeccable qualifications and higher university degrees.”
“Labor laws say that the percentage of disabled employees in the government agencies should be 5 percent. Unfortunately, this is not the case,” Hashemi said. “We’ve seen a significant rise in the enrolment of disabled students in universities. These individuals enter the workforce and need jobs. The government must implement a job quota for these people.”
Hashemi noted: “There is a prevailing cultural taboo against disabled people in Iran. That’s why many government agencies are reluctant to hire them, whereas the opposite is true in developed countries.”
Mahmoud Kari, the director of the Iranian Disability Support Association (IDSA), has criticized many recent job ads for requiring applicants to be in “perfect health.” Mr. Kari described the ads as “discriminatory and illegal.”
He added: “In 2013, the government hired 4,000 teachers, of whom 1,200 were supposed to be from among qualified disabled applicants. But it rejected many suitable candidates on a variety of grounds. It eventually relented under pressure from many NGOs and hired 670 disabled teachers.”
“Many disabled applicants for technical jobs successfully pass preliminary exams, but are generally rejected during the interview phase. Employers are reluctant to hire disabled people, despite their education and impressive qualifications,” he said.