Cyprus – Inaccessible Clinics for People with Disabilities – Out of 1447, only 34 declare accessibility.

Inaccessible Medical Clinics for PwDs – Out of 1447, only 34 declare accessibility

The overwhelming majority of healthcare providers in the Nicosia District have stated that their premises are not accessible to people with disabilities. This emerges from a survey conducted by the Commissioner of Supervision of the Ministry of Health, Christodoulos Kaisis, following related complaints he received.

It is worth noting that the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities to private and specialist doctors, as well as to laboratories contracted with GESY, is not the first time it has come to the forefront. In the past, the Commissioner of GESY documented numerous gaps and unjustifiable omissions in a report. Moreover, many complaints have already been recorded from people with disabilities who, due to a lack of parking spaces and difficulties in access, were unable to visit their doctors.

The issue is expected to be a subject of discussion in the upcoming session of the Health Committee of the Parliament, following a request for a self-initiated investigation by the Green Party Member of Parliament, Alexandra Attalidou. Furthermore, the Commissioner of GESY, Christodoulos Kaisis, sent a letter regarding the matter to the Health Insurance Organization, expressing concern that on the organization’s website, where citizens can check if a doctor’s or laboratory’s premises are accessible for people with disabilities, the vast majority of providers themselves declare that they are not accessible.

According to the Commissioner of Supervision, in recent times, he has received phone complaints from beneficiaries who, while searching for information in the GESY’s information system in an attempt to select a healthcare service provider, noticed that all providers or the vast majority state in their contact details that they are not accessible to people with disabilities

The beneficiaries were not only people with disabilities but also individuals who, due to old age or temporary health issues, wanted to select a healthcare facility that was easily accessible to receive health care services.

Indeed, Mr. Kaisis suggests that the information provided on the OAAY website regarding accessibility may have been added recently following an announcement made by OAAY on July 7, 2020. At that time, they asked providers to declare the accessibility of their building facilities for people with mobility issues.

The Commissioner for Medical Services conducted an investigation into this matter concerning GHS (General Healthcare System) doctors in the Nicosia district. According to the results, the overwhelming majority of providers in the GHS system have declared that they are not accessible to people with disabilities. Moreover, in most categories of doctors that were investigated, it appears that none of the providers are accessible.

“The above finding,” the Commissioner notes, “raises doubts about the accuracy of the entries, as it is reported that the received information was posted without concern for the very low percentages of accessibility declared.” “The above finding,” as indicated by the Commissioner, “raises doubts about the accuracy of the entries, as it is reported that there is no access even in providers who operate in facilities of large hospitals. This information must be precise to facilitate individuals facing access difficulties in selecting the provider they will visit. Furthermore, we are concerned about the OAAY’s stance, as it appears that after a significant period from the announcement dated July 7, 2020, in which providers were called upon to declare the accessibility of the building facilities they use, the received information was posted without any consideration for the very low percentages of accessibility declared,” he states.

The ultimate goal, as Mr. Kaisis concludes in his letter, “is the complete resolution of the issue of accessibility of healthcare service providers to ensure full access for people with disabilities and all beneficiaries in all healthcare service facilities within the framework of GHS. However, until this goal is achieved, we kindly request your comments and views on the declarations of accessibility of building facilities used by GHS providers for people with disabilities, and to be informed about your actions on the matter.”

As per the information provided in the letter by the Commissioner of Oversight of GESY, out of the 1447 healthcare providers contracted with GESY in the Nicosia District, only 34 have declared to OAAY that their premises are accessible for people with disabilities. Specifically, out of the 259 adult personal doctors, only eleven have declared their premises as accessible, while none of the 75 pediatric doctors contracted with GESY declared their premises as accessible. Even the specialist orthopedic doctors, who one might assume would have and declare accessible premises for individuals with mobility issues, out of the 71, only three declared having accessible clinics.

The question that arises is whether indeed only 34 clinics in the entire Nicosia district are accessible to people with disabilities, which is a significant issue that OAAY needs to address promptly, or if for some reason, the premises were inaccurately marked as non-accessible on the organization’s website. This is a question that is expected to be answered in the Parliament.

Source: National Federation of the Blind

Speech by the Commissioner for Gender Equality, Ms. Tzoi Christodoulou, at the wide-ranging public consultation on the formulation of the new National Strategy for Gender Equality 2024 – 2026.

Gender Equality Commissioner – Consultation on national strategy Presidential Palace, Lefkosia, Cyprus The Commissioner for Gender Equality, Ms Josie Christodoulou, holds broad consultation on the formulation of the National Strategy for Gender Equality 2024-2026.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to today’s broad consultation, with the exclusive goal of accelerating the promotion of gender equality in our country. Promoting equality between women and men is one of the cross-cutting priorities of the President of the Republic’s governance program and a personal commitment of his own.

We are well aware that the full protection of women’s human rights is an important issue and a prerequisite for the social and economic development of all countries. Gender equality means that the needs and human rights of both women and men should be considered equal, as should their responsibilities. Women and men have biological differences that should be taken into account when planning legislation, policies, actions, and measures, while at the same time, women and men should participate equally in decision-making processes, free from gender-based stereotypes and biases.

Through a comprehensive approach, the goal is to promote the active participation of women in public life, creating a gender-inclusive political, economic, and social framework, an environment that is friendly and welcoming to women and men alike. To achieve this goal and create the necessary conditions in all areas, targeted actions and policies are being developed, and the tool of gender mainstreaming is being utilized in government policies and actions.

At the same time, equal distribution of responsibilities in the care economy is promoted, active participation of women in the labor market and decision-making positions, and the strengthening and creation of new structures to facilitate parenting. Toward this direction, actions are being designed and implemented to embed the culture of gender equality and to break down outdated stereotypes and biases.

At the same time, gender equality is achieved using different tools and at different rates. It is recognized that the horizontal integration of the gender dimension into a country’s policies contributes to the establishment of equality between men and women, as gender is taken into account in the planning and shaping of legislation, policies, actions, and measures. Any policies, actions, and initiatives cannot be successful if the views of civil society, all of you, experts, and collaborators are not considered.

However, gender equality is entrenched through different means and at different rates. It is recognized that the horizontal integration of the gender dimension into the policies of a state contributes to the establishment of gender equality, as gender is taken into account in the planning and shaping of legislation, policies, actions, and measures. Any policies, actions, and efforts in this regard are influenced by external factors such as global crises and demographic shifts. Global economic crises and challenges, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, have further highlighted gender inequalities:

During the pandemic, social roles attributed to women and men have become even more evident, with women, for the most part, juggling family/personal life and professional life from home, often at the expense of their personal time. Simultaneously, there has been a significant increase in cases of domestic violence against women during the same period. The Russian invasion of Ukraine highlighted the different needs of women and children refugees, an increase in sexual violence, and the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. At the same time, the climate and energy crisis affects men and women differently, and the equal participation of both genders in decision-making centers to address these issues is crucial. However, in the realm of gender equality, there are no “us vs. them, we vs. they.” Gender equality, or rather gender inequality, is a global issue, and we should all be united in this struggle. It’s important to emphasize that the promotion of equality is not the problem; it’s the solution, and multilateralism plays a critical role in this direction.

In this context, the establishment of a culture of gender equality is a fundamental priority and an urgent goal of our Office, which is being strengthened and enhanced. Among other tasks, it is responsible for preparing and coordinating the new Strategy for Gender Equality 2024-2026 in collaboration with all ministries and deputy ministries. Our mission is complex and certainly not easy. Changing mindsets requires persistence and a strategic effort, which we all contribute to. The incorporation of gender dimensions into foreign policy is required for this reason.

In this context, I would like to mention specific institutional reforms. On March 28, 2023, the President of the Republic, during an event on International Women’s Day, referred to the establishment of the Office and its strengthening.

We are currently working on a draft law for the establishment of the Office, while recognizing the longstanding contribution of the National Mechanism for Women’s Rights and its members. We are in consultations to ensure its integration. The Office has also been strengthened with human resources.

By decision of the Council of Ministers, the Office of the Commissioner for Gender Equality, in collaboration with all ministries and deputy ministries, is authorized to prepare, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of the new Strategy for Gender Equality 2024-2026. The goal of the strategy is to integrate the gender dimension into the policies and actions of all ministries and deputy ministries. To achieve better coordination, gender equality officers have been appointed in each ministry and deputy ministry. They are professionals who share our vision and want to be part of this effort, so that together we can accelerate the promotion of gender equality. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the officers, collaborators, and colleagues for our excellent cooperation and for sharing our vision. With the above, dear friends, we are laying the institutional foundations to move forward with coordinated actions within the scope of our Office.

Allow me to refer to some specific policies and actions that have already been implemented by the Office in the last seven months:

– Zero VAT rate on women’s hygiene products. This is a significant development as these products are essential, not luxury items.

– Our efforts, in collaboration with the Minister of Transport, Mr. Vafeiadis, the President of the Licensing Authority, Mrs. Amerikanou, and the unions SEK, PEO, and DEOK, to address the issues faced by female bus drivers. As a result of our consultations, 40 women have expressed interest in returning to the profession.

– New collaborations with the Cyprus Basketball Federation through the signing of a memorandum of understanding that covers, among other things, training for coaches on gender equality in sports.

– Actions that have begun in collaboration with KEVE for promoting gender equality in the workplace and closing the gender pay gap.

– The re-establishment of the Gender Mainstreaming Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Ambassador for Equality, Ms. Koula Sofianou.

I would also like to mention the appointments made by the President of the Republic, which demonstrate the importance placed on gender equality. The representation of women stands at 46.1% in the first appointments of the Government, while in the Council of Ministers (Ministers/Deputy Ministers), the percentage reaches 41.17% for the first time.

Furthermore, after consultations with the President of the Union of Municipalities, 29 municipalities have appointed gender equality officers, which I note with great satisfaction, as it strengthens the cooperation of our Office with local government. With our support, they are progressing with an annual action plan for gender equality, featuring a small number of actions that are, however, substantial. For example, the creation of a breastfeeding room equipped with a refrigerator for storing breast milk at municipal offices, adequate lighting in municipal parking lots and parks owned by communities to enhance the sense of security, especially during the evening hours, the establishment of parking spaces in municipal theaters for families with infants and strollers, as well as facilities for baby care (diaper changing) in men’s restrooms.

Beyond the above, we have initiated the creation of an electronic library on gender equality issues and the history of the women’s movement in Cyprus. For years, I have observed that our history has been shaped through the eyes of men. This is obviously due to the historical positions held by women and men in our society and the fact that access to public spaces was mainly enjoyed by men. Many studies and research have been conducted, we have testimonies of women, and we know about the women’s movement through narratives, which, although documented, have remained in “invisibility.” With the electronic library, the goal is to have the material gathered in one platform that is easily accessible to interested individuals. Through this effort, we will also support the Minister of Education, Youth, and Sports, Ms. Michailidou, in her new project to modernize history books so that our children are aware of the enduring contribution of Cypriot women.

All of the above contribute to making equality the norm. I have no illusions that in the coming years we will eliminate the inequalities, which, I want to emphasize, have almost entirely disappeared legally. However, we can accelerate the promotion of gender equality and the consolidation of a culture of equality through holistic, cross-cutting actions that are practical and aimed at substantially improving the lives of our citizens and our society.

As most of you may know, I have been an active member and part of civil society for many years. With most of you present here today, I have collaborated, participated in protests, engaged in intense discussions with government officials of various administrations, and actively contributed to the promotion of equality in our country, in the European Union, and at the international level. I understand the importance of participation and democratic processes. Recognizing this importance, I am well aware of what it means to give space and a voice to groups in society when decisions that concern them are being made, as is the case with the Gender Equality Strategy.

With this as my basic principle and based on the ministerial decision authorizing our Office to prepare the new strategy in collaboration with ministries/deputy ministries, within the framework of the international and European obligations of the Republic of Cyprus, it is important to take into account the ideas and suggestions of all of you. Together with the gender equality officers, we have already prepared the framework and guiding principles, and today we are discussing with you, recording your views and suggestions, along with actions and measures that you believe can be implemented to shape the new strategy. Always within the framework of fiscal discipline, our goal is to create a workable strategy over a three-year period, which can be revised and which will include a few but targeted actionable items. The aim is to have a positive impact on the lives of all by empowering women. This strategy will be a document resulting from the collaboration of the state with you, the broader civil society.

Allow me also to address some of your concerns regarding the content of the strategy, such as the absence of a working group for violence against women, women, peace, and security, or working groups for women with specific vulnerabilities. As you already know, there are relevant action plans for violence against women and domestic violence, as well as the coordinating body under the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, and the action plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325, which is coordinated by our office and has a separate budget for related actions. To avoid repetition, such actions will not be included in the new strategy. As for immigrant women, women with disabilities, we consciously did not include them as groups of vulnerable women, as we want actions related to these specific groups of women to be integrated horizontally across all pillars (transportation, employment, social policy, foreign policy, etc.). For this reason, representatives/experts for the above are among us. If, of course, during our discussions in the working groups, you believe that a separate pillar should be created, we are ready to discuss, record, and make a relevant decision.

AI will not tire of reiterating that accelerating the promotion of gender equality is imperative. Our goal is to integrate the gender dimension into all ministries and sub-ministries in practice. To make gender equality a norm. By translating words into actions, a new effort is being made, applying a participatory and inclusive approach to the preparation of the new National Strategy for Gender Equality.

We have the opportunity, dear friends, but also the responsibility, to accelerate efforts to promote gender equality.


Source: Press and Information Office

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs abolishes tuition fees for its programs for European Disability Cards holders

Today, the proposal of the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth Affairs (MEY), for the exemption of European Disability Card holders from tuition fees in educational programs of the Ministry, was approved by the Cabinet.

Specifically, based on the Decision, holders of the European Disability Card are exempted from paying tuition fees in the programs of the State Institutes of Further Education, Training Centers, and Lifelong Vocational Education and Training Programs.

This Decision is the result of the collaboration between the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth (MESY) and the Ministry of Social Welfare and falls within the framework of the Ministry’s efforts for the social inclusion of people with disabilities and to facilitate their access to education.

Source: παιδεία news

Unbelievable:”This is Marios” – Alone student with cerebral palsy due to lack of funding – Cry for help

Marios, a high school student who suffers, among other things, from spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, is fighting alongside his family for a better quality of education, as three weeks after the start of the school year, the Ministry of Education has not secured a school escort due to a lack of funding.

Source: To Thema Online

Ablebook collaborates with Metropolis Mall for More Accessibility and Inclusion

Ablebook is an application that provides information and services related to the accessibility of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in urban centers and villages across Cyprus. Through the application, users can find information about accessible locations, view photos of these places, communicate with businesses, and report issues they encounter in a particular location. Additionally, the application includes information about public parking spaces for PWDs throughout Cyprus.

Ablebook is an application that provides information and services related to the accessibility of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in urban centers and villages across Cyprus. Through the application, users can find information about accessible locations, view photos of these places, communicate with businesses, and report issues they encounter in a particular location. Additionally, the application includes information about public parking spaces for PWDs throughout Cyprus.

The first feature of Ablebook is an interactive map that allows users to select their desired destination, showing them the most accessible route. They can also view available accessibility facilities at each location through photos and directly communicate with businesses in case of need.

The second feature, known as Ablecard, is a membership card exclusively for people with disabilities. Through this card, users can enjoy additional privileges at businesses collaborating with Ablebook, such as discounts and special offers.

The third feature of the application, the Kids section, provides information about accessible spaces where children with disabilities can engage in sports and various activities.

The last available feature is the Ablebook Portal, which allows businesses and municipal authorities to manage their locations within the application and update their content. This ensures that accessibility information is always up-to-date and compliant with standard specifications.

The collaboration between Ablebook and Metropolis Mall is a step towards creating a society of equality and inclusion. With the accessible facilities and services offered, Metropolis Mall sets an example for other businesses to follow, making our community more accessible for everyone.

Talking to children about disabilities

The chapter on “disability” is large, and it might be challenging to explain to children. It requires patience and delicate handling. Why someone is disabled, what this means for them and those around them, how it happened, and why, how they feel, and how different their life is – these are all important questions to address.

And ultimately, how should we behave towards them, differently or “normally”? Children have a natural curiosity and often express thoughts and words without filtering them. It’s important to discuss the topic of disabilities with them and help them better understand that there are people around us who speak, behave, or move a little differently.

People with special abilities. This could even apply to our own child who might wonder why they are not like the other children. It’s important to recognize and emphasize that being different is not a bad thing; quite the opposite. However, we should teach our children not to use words that belittle, single out, or target a person to describe their disability. Apart from being impolite, it lacks understanding and empathy. Just as our child is hurt when they are teased, spoken to rudely, or targeted, the same goes for other children and adults.

The points to emphasize when explaining to your child what a disability is or what it means are:

  1. Some people are born with disabilities, or they may experience an injury or accident during their lifetime and may not return to their previous state.
  2. A physical disability does not automatically mean a cognitive disability! Make it clear to children that someone’s body may be different, but their mind, thoughts, and emotions remain alert.

People with disabilities are not sick, and in no case is this “difference” contagious.

Explain to children that sometimes people with disabilities may use special equipment. They might have a wheelchair, crutches, wear hearing aids, etc.

Show them the designated parking spots, specially designed sidewalks, and support bars. Teach children that we should respect these places a little more, and in no case should we exploit them, violate them, or block access with our bicycles or vehicles.

Source: Φilenews

“They tied a child’s wheelchair with a rope” – Serious allegations before the Parliament

The strong concern and anxiety have been raised regarding what was heard in front of the Parliament, concerning the way and means of transporting children with disabilities. There were reports of a disabled wheelchair being tied with a rope inside a bus that was transporting students to and from school. Furthermore, the absence of clear legislation was presented as the perfect excuse for government services to justify the unjustifiable.

The Human Rights Committee, in response to a letter from Kostas Groutidis in which he explained the ordeal his son went through to attend school trips with his classmates during the previous school year, opened the issue of violations against children with disabilities within school units.

Mr. Groutidis mentioned in his letter that during the first school trip of the previous school year, the children were transported by a bus with only one seat for a wheelchair, but there were two children, resulting in his son being tied incorrectly and, during a sudden stop, falling off the seat. As for the second school trip, Mr. Groutidis did not allow his child to board the bus, as there was no room for two children, ultimately transporting him to the excursion location himself. A location that was not accessible.

The problems with the transportation of children with disabilities have also been highlighted by the President of the Association “Agalia Elpida,” Youla Pitsiali, who stated that this issue should have been discussed for years. She explained that the first violation against these children is the violation of their right to access education since, as she pointed out, these children are subjected to an evaluation by third parties to decide, without the children’s and their families’ input, whether they should be placed in mainstream classes or not. “They prohibit access to the classrooms, and we let it happen because there is no legislation. Then parents are discouraged from sending their children to school because they are told that they will be mocked, that there are no examination essays, and we let them be bullied.”

Mr. Augustinos expressed his dismay at the lack of legislation to address these specific issues and called on the Parliament to take action, emphasizing that it is time for decisions to be made and initiatives to be taken.

On her part, the President of the Association “Agalia Elpida,” Youla Pitsiali, in her statement, mentioned that this issue should have been discussed for years. She explained that the first violation against these children is their exclusion from education since, as she pointed out, these children are subjected to evaluations by third parties to decide, without the children’s and their families’ input, whether they should be placed in mainstream classes or not. “They prohibit access to the classrooms, and we let it happen because there is no legislation. Then parents are discouraged from sending their children to school because they are told that they will be mocked, that there are no examination essays, and we let them be bullied.”

Regarding the issues with buses, Ms. Pitsiali noted that it has been a problem for years, and in 2017, with the initiative of the then-president of the Federation of Parents of Municipal Education, Morfaki Solomonides, a program for accessible buses was implemented because there were no buses to meet the needs, and parents had to pay. As she pointed out, the company that won the bid stated that it was at the disposal of the schools to provide buses for children with disabilities for two years, during which the pilot program was implemented, and there were no major problems and significant benefits were realized. “All students were transported together in large buses. We don’t want the children to be transported in small buses but in large ones. The program was stopped, and it didn’t proceed. The Ministry of Education should tell us why it was stopped. For five years now, we have been saying that there should be legislation for inclusive education.”

Taking the floor, the President of the Cyprus Confederation of Organizations of the Disabled (CCOD), Christakis Nicolaides, noted that they have submitted a memorandum regarding the inequalities faced by children with disabilities in all areas. He emphasized that there are laws and regulations for mass transportation, both public and private, that must be accessible. “The specifications exist, and there are EU specifications. Refusing to accept that there is a problem and that there are ways to solve it will not help. From July until now, we have had 70 complaints. There was a case where a child was not granted a ramp to enter his home, and the Court ruled in favor of the child. There are complaints about the transportation of children; in Paphos, they left children with autism at school and did not take them on the excursion.”

The Response of the Ministry of Transportation

In response to what Mr. Groutidis reported, Mr. Andreas Nikiforou, the Head of the Directorate of Public Passenger Transport and Senior Officer of Public Transport at the Ministry of Transportation, emphasized that it was the first time he had heard about what Mr. Groutidis mentioned. He clarified that this was a school trip and not public transportation. He stated, “We are talking about a private company that has a contract with the school and the principal. Understanding that the vehicle was legal, it had passed the MOT (Motor Vehicle Inspection). The vehicle was suitable, but it did not have an extra seat for the second wheelchair.”

Mr. Nikiforou pointed out that during the contract negotiation, the school’s management should have requested a vehicle with a second seat or asked for a second vehicle. He also emphasized that it was the responsibility of the school’s management to document the needs. He further mentioned a meeting that took place at the Ministry of Transportation the previous week, during which it was decided to create a list of essential safety documents that companies must have for buses.

Statements from Educators and Parents

Taking the floor, Mr. Dimitris Taliadoros, the President of OELMEK (Secondary Education Teachers’ Federation), highlighted that requests for transportation services are made by the school’s management at the beginning of the school year, taking into account the needs of each unit. He noted that there are special buses for excursions. Regarding the responsibility of school administrations, Mr. Taliadoros pointed out that they do not have the specifications for vehicles; only the companies do, and they provide quotations.

“In the past, the police used to conduct inspections, but now the responsibility lies with the schools. What do the schools check? Whether the vehicles have permits, have passed inspections, and are safe.”

On her part, Ms. Myria Vasileiou, the President of POED (Pan-Cyprian Parents’ Association), suggested that at the beginning of the school year, contacts are made with bus companies to find the best solution and that the company is informed if there are children with disabilities. Regarding specifications and criteria, her response was emphatic.

“Our diplomas say ‘teacher,’ not ‘engineer’ or ‘police officer.’ It is not our responsibility to inspect vehicles; we do not have the knowledge.”

In his statement, Mr. Loizos Konstantinou, the President of the Federation of Parents of Secondary Education, noted that their position is firm. “The right to education is equal for all children, and the state should provide it.”

Regarding buses, Mr. Konstantinou emphasized the need to create a registry for school buses to ensure order. He also stressed the importance of creating the list immediately, so schools know what to request from the companies.

Source: Reporter

USA: Only 21% of people with disabilities were employed in 2022.

How employers can reduce biases in hiring people with disabilities

Only 21% of people with disabilities were employed in the USA in 2022, as reported by CNBC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults in the United States has a disability that affects their major life activities, including challenges in hearing and vision, mobility, cognition, independent living, and engaging in activities such as dressing. In total, 61 million Americans have some form of disability.

Despite the additional challenges in their daily lives, a significant portion of this population can work – and desires to do so. However, many face challenges in their efforts. In 2022, only 21.3% of the population of people with disabilities were employed, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are some reasons why the employment rate of this population remains low and what employers can do to ensure fairness in the hiring process.


There are multiple reasons why so few people with disabilities are actively part of the workforce. Firstly, this population faces various biases that hinder employers from hiring them.

“There is this prejudice that many of us have, and it’s largely unconscious, that someone who uses a wheelchair cannot perform a job as well as someone who doesn’t use a wheelchair,” argues Jessica Tuman, head of Voya Cares, a program by Voya Financial focused on individuals with disabilities.

In reality, “studies have shown that people with disabilities are actually more loyal,” she says. “They are equally if not more productive, and they have much less turnover in their roles,” she adds.

On average, companies with a workforce including people with disabilities had revenues 28% higher compared to those that did not employ them, according to a 2018 report by the IT and consulting company Accenture.

Misunderstanding of Cost

While considering candidates, employers might assume that employing people with disabilities could be costly.

“Screen reading programs, visual aids, auditory aids, a standing desk,” says Tuman, “all of these things are what we call reasonable accommodations. A misunderstanding is that these accommodations are really expensive, and employers might be discouraged by that.”

In reality, accommodations for people with disabilities typically cost only around $500, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. “Such a cost is not particularly expensive for most employers,” argues Tuman, who adds that many of these employees “actually come to the workplace with their own assistive equipment.”

Corporate Culture

Companies can allocate resources to ensure that their human resources practices are fair and inclusive. Kim Crowdert, a consultant for DEI in the workplace, recommends the use of LinkedIn.

“We have people who openly talk about their disabilities and their impact on their professional lives,” she points out. “Make hires from LinkedIn,” she adds.

Crowdert also emphasizes the importance of fostering a corporate culture that is open and inclusive.

On her part, Tuman suggests that employers seek assistance for the education and integration of individuals with disabilities from organizations like Disability IN and the Job Accommodation Network.

“The truth is, it’s a choice, right?” Crowdert questions regarding companies’ stance on inclusivity of any group. “Are we going to be an organization that creates access for all?” The answer to this question should be affirmative from all employers, she emphasizes.

Source: Oikonomikos Tachydromos (OT)

ADHD & Hyperfocus: The Phenomenon of Extreme Concentration

Have you ever found yourself so deeply absorbed in what you’re doing that time passes by very quickly? Perhaps it’s playing a musical instrument, reading an exciting book, or learning a new skill.

For individuals who do not have ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), this state of flow can be a pleasant or productive way to spend time. However, for those who suffer from ADHD, periods of hyperfocus can be both a blessing and a curse.

Hyperfocus is not an official symptom of ADHD. In fact, it sounds contradictory to what ADHD is more widely known for, which is inattention and lack of focus.

However, ADHD is not really a deficit of attention; it’s more of an abundance of attention. The challenge lies in learning how to regulate and control it.

When this excessive focus is not managed properly, you can experience what is known as hyperfocused ADHD. The good news is that you can learn to recognize hyperfocus and find ways to keep it under control!

At this point, I’d like to demystify many of the experiences that a person with hyperfocus goes through and address some misconceptions or misunderstandings. I want to delve into things like hyperfocus, overstimulation, “selective hearing,” “attention-seeking behaviors,” and emotional dysregulation.

A common characteristic for many neurodivergent individuals is the difficulty of verbally expressing what they are experiencing. They can sit in their own little world, and without the pressure of anyone standing in front of them, they let the words swell from within and flow out from their fingertips onto their laptop. Most, if not all neurodivergent individuals, long to share and have their stories heard.

“Hyperfocus, at least for me, feels almost like a way of being. I don’t feel like I choose my hyperfixations. I feel like they choose me, like a stray cat that shows up one day and decides it’s your pet now. Many of my hyperfixations have taken me by surprise, but one thing I know is that every hyperfixation feels like a Christmas gift from my brain.

Uruguay. Where is that? Oh, they speak an indigenous language more often than a colonial one? Tell me more! You mean mushrooms function like an internet network for trees? I’ll take five books. I just got a tattoo, and now I’m going to buy a tattoo suitcase on my hand and spend hours watching documentaries about the historical and cultural significance of tattoos.

Hyperfocus means I can quickly memorize a list of the 54 regions of Greece because I like the look of maps and I enjoy geography. It means I did really well in math class because there was nothing nice to look at or daydream about, but I excelled in history because the past is full of good stories and questions.

Hyperfocus feeds dopamine. That’s what those of us with ADHD desire. And that’s why every new fixation feels like Christmas. There’s a special kind of magic, almost like a new crush, when I discover a new hobby, and I’m ready to let my mind go on this adventure.”

What is ADHD Hyperfocus?

Hyperfocus occurs when you become fully immersed in something that interests you. This intense focus on a single topic can make you spend more time and energy on it than you intend to. If left unchecked, hyperfocus can lead to negative consequences and disrupt your daily functioning.

Individuals with ADHD are more likely to experience this heightened state of focus more intensely and frequently. In an ADHD hyperfocus state, you may disregard the passage of time and what is happening around you.

When you re-enter reality, you may become disoriented from your surroundings, as if coming out of a “trance.” It may also take some time to regain your orientation and adjust to “real life.”

If you have ADHD, you are more likely to become engrossed in something enjoyable or satisfying. This happens because ADHD changes how your brain perceives reward and satisfaction. Remember that this doesn’t make you a “lazy” or “irresponsible” adult. A brain with ADHD is simply wired to process information, stimulation, and pleasure differently than a brain without ADHD.

ADHD Hyperfixation vs. Hyperfocus

The terms ADHD hyperfixation and hyperfocus are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different phenomena. ADHD hyperfixation refers to an intense and often prolonged state of concentration on a specific activity or object. This can lead to happiness, satisfaction, and sometimes increased productivity.

However, if not properly managed, a person may invest more time and effort into it than they can afford financially, neglecting their personal needs, duties, and everyday responsibilities. People with ADHD are more likely to experience symptoms of hyperfixation compared to those without ADHD.

On the other hand, ADHD hyperfocus refers to deep focus on a specific task or activity. Anyone can tap into this “flow state,” which is described as being fully dedicated to a task without internal distractions, fatigue, or boredom. Research also shows that this can increase productivity and is often associated with a sense of accomplishment.

While these two phenomena may be somewhat similar, hyperfixation is fueled by intense passion or interest in the activity. In contrast, hyperfocus is guided by tasks and often comes with clear goals and a strong sense of direction.

Controlling and regulating hyperfixation can be challenging. On the other hand, with hyperfocus, you can intentionally induce a “flow state” and adjust it as you wish.

Examples and Signs of Hyperfocus

When uncontrolled hyperfocus in ADHD occurs, a person may have an unhealthy obsession or addiction to a hobby, activity, or object. This is usually associated with the following signs:

  • Losing track of time
  • Disconnecting from the environment
  • Neglecting roles and responsibilities
  • Ignoring personal needs
  • Struggling to stop or change activities
  • Getting caught up in small details

Hyperfocus manifests differently from one person to another. Someone with ADHD may engage in a hobby like knitting or painting, or they might become engrossed in a random activity like cloud watching.

At times, this hyperfocus can be beneficial. Someone fully engrossed in a work-related task or project can dedicate hours to complete it without being distracted.

However, in other cases, it may affect how a person manages their daily tasks and responsibilities. For instance, someone who is deeply engaged in an activity might forget to eat, take a shower, or complete an important assignment.

The overflow of attention associated with ADHD is not necessarily a burden. You can harness this attention towards your current goals when you learn how to direct your focus.

How to Overcome Hyperfocus and Redirect Your Attention

You can overcome ADHD hyperfocus with professional support and proper strategies. Here’s how you can effectively manage your attention and make the most of it:

Set Healthy Boundaries

If you realize that a specific hobby or interest is taking up more and more of your time, try to set clear time boundaries for these activities. Here’s how you can set boundaries effectively:

  • Create a daily or weekly time limit for the activities or hobbies you’re fixated on.
  • Specify a time of day when these activities are allowed. For example, you can schedule them toward the end of the day to ensure you remain focused when working or studying.
  • Define the conditions under which you’ll allow yourself to engage in these activities, such as after exercising or during designated free time.
  • Ask friends and family to help keep you accountable by staying in touch with you.

Schedule Regular Breaks

Incorporate frequent breaks into your activities to prevent excessive immersion in them. Schedule a 5-10 minute break for every 30 minutes you dedicate to your favorite pursuits. During these breaks, you can have a snack, take a quick walk, or do something that helps you shift your focus away from the activity.

Stepping away from what you’re doing can prevent overindulgence in the activity and help you reorient your perception of time and reality.

Explore New Skills and Interests

Diversifying your range of hobbies makes it less likely that you’ll become excessively fixated on a specific activity. Challenge yourself by trying a new sport, learning a foreign language, or picking up a musical instrument. Volunteering is another great way to find enjoyment and fulfillment. When trying something new, it’s a good idea to approach it with healthy boundaries in mind.

Seeking advice and support

Seeking advice and support is crucial when dealing with ADHD hyperfocus. With a stable support system and professional guidance, you can manage your time and resources more effectively. Collaborating with a psychologist can create a safe space for discussing different strategies to help you avoid hyperfocus triggers, set firm boundaries, and prioritize daily activities.

Additionally, your psychologist may recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to assist you in managing ADHD hyperfocus and other related symptoms. This form of therapy can enhance motivation and focus while helping you address habits that affect your productivity and progress.

Utilize Tools and Resources

Effective time management is essential when dealing with ADHD hyperfocus. You can use various tools and resources to maximize your productivity, keep yourself focused, and better manage your time.

For example, consider using a time management app to create a daily schedule with time blocks for work and leisure. Additionally, you can try the Pomodoro Technique using a simple timer. This widely used time management method divides activities into intervals separated by short breaks.

A productivity app can help you track your daily responsibilities, ensuring that you complete everything you need to before indulging in leisure activities. ADHD hyperfocus doesn’t have to be the enemy of your productivity. It’s a common experience for individuals with ADHD, especially when engaging in activities they find interesting.

The tendency for hyperfocus doesn’t mean you have to stop doing activities you enjoy. What’s important is to establish the right boundaries, have a support system, and employ strategies to prevent these interests from taking over your life.

Source: Notos Press

The Municipality of Ayia Napa provides specific benefits to persons with disabilities (PWD).

The Municipality of Ayia Napa will provide specific benefits for people with disabilities (PWD), including tax discounts, free admission to the Sea Museum, and free parking, as announced on Monday by Mayor Christos Zannettou during his speech at the presentation of the project “Accessible Nature and Culture – Sustainable Tourism – In Heritage.”

The Mayor stated that the event “marks the culmination of an almost five-year journey, involving discussions with partners, the preparation of proposals, and their submission.” The collaboration between the Municipality of Ayia Napa and the Municipality of Rethymno, he noted, “is a continuation of a long-standing friendship, as the two municipalities have been twinned since 1996, and we have cooperated on various programs.”

He added that “the project ‘Ayia Napa – Rethymno: Universally Accessible Cities’ was the opportunity for us to get to know each other and collaborate with the National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities, and its contribution to our joint effort was crucial, as it provided the expertise and support for the plans of the three municipalities. Additionally, we worked together with the Municipality of Sotira at the beginning of the project, and today we are preparing to follow a common path within the framework of the Local Government Reform.”

As Mr. Zannettou explained, “the project ‘Accessible Nature and Culture – Sustainable Tourism – In Heritage’ prompted us to rethink and redesign the urban space with new priorities and vision. With the completion of the project, we reach the end of a journey that will serve as a starting point for similar efforts to expand the intervention areas to make Ayia Napa truly universally accessible.”

“We have taken significant steps to expand the infrastructure and provisions of the existing project within the framework of our capabilities and the challenging economic conditions affecting both Greece and Cyprus. The Municipality of Ayia Napa has made accessibility and the social inclusion of persons with disabilities a priority, and our strategic planning includes actions related to the subject, such as the ‘Universally Accessible and Environmental Civic Center’ and the ‘Construction of a Model Autism Center in Ammochostos,'” he continued.

Mr. Zannettou emphasized that “the Municipality’s goal is to attract a diverse tourist group – persons with disabilities – who, until now, have not been targeted because they cannot be accommodated by the existing infrastructure and services. They prefer off-season trips. The overall turnover of this market is over 80 billion euros per year,” he said, adding that “in 2009, arrivals of persons with disabilities at Larnaca Airport reached 50,000. We aspire to further increase this number, with Ayia Napa hosting a significant percentage of visitors with disabilities.”

Referring to the project, Mr. Zannettou stated, “The project has a budget of €1,200,810.00, with the amounts allocated as follows: €354,100.00 for the Municipality of Ayia Napa, €510,800.00 for the Municipality of Rethymno, €80,450.00 for the Municipality of Sotira, and €255,460.00 for the National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities.”

The Municipality of Ayia Napa noted that it “has absorbed 100% of the amount allocated to its projects, and additional resources were used to further improve the proposed actions to achieve a better and enhanced result. However, due to natural and economic constraints, the Municipality is not yet fully and completely accessible, but we are committed to continuing to expand and improve the infrastructure to make Ayia Napa accessible to everyone.”

Christos Zannettou also announced that “the Municipal Council of Ayia Napa has decided to grant specific benefits to persons with disabilities, including tax discounts, free entry to the Sea Museum, and free parking, which will be announced in the coming days.”

The Municipality of Ayia Napa noted that it “has absorbed 100% of the amount allocated to its projects, and additional resources were used to further improve the proposed actions to achieve a better and enhanced result. However, due to natural and economic constraints, the Municipality is not yet fully and completely accessible, but we are committed to continuing to expand and improve the infrastructure to make Ayia Napa accessible to everyone.”

Furthermore, a system for the access of individuals with visual impairments to a beach in the Municipality of Ayia Napa was installed, and improvements were made to the accessibility for individuals with visual and hearing impairments at the Municipal Museum “Thalassa.”

The presentation of the project followed, in which, among other things, accessibility infrastructure was provided at the “Makronissos” beach, including the construction of accessible pathways and the purchase of beach wheelchairs, as well as the construction of accessible restrooms and showers for persons with disabilities. A comprehensive renovation and expansion of the beach’s standard restrooms was also carried out using the same resources. Additionally, accessibility infrastructure was provided at the “Nissi” beach, including designated parking spaces for persons with disabilities and accessible signage.

Furthermore, a system for the access of individuals with visual impairments was installed at a beach in the Municipality of Ayia Napa, and improvements were made to the accessibility for individuals with visual and hearing impairments at the Municipal Museum “Thalassa.”

Source: Reporter