Robert Travaš, Anka Slonjšak, Mira Pekeč Knežević (L-D).jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

On the occasion of National Disabled Persons Day, March 21, Disabled Persons Ombudswoman Anka Slonjsak has said that potential skills of disabled persons in Croatia have remained unused because the prevailing opinion in society is that disability stands for inability to work.

Slonjsak said that for years disability had been the reason for the early retirement of people whose other skills could have been used, but who had been excluded from the work process by society.

"Retirement was offered not because people with disabilities could not perform certain tasks but because society was not interested and did not have the will to develop their other abilities," she said, warning that Croatia was one of the few European countries that not only had not developed a system of professional rehabilitation, but had neglected and marginalised it for years.

The assessment of the remaining competencies and their development through professional rehabilitation and retraining is the key to preserving and developing disabled persons' remaining skills, Slonjsak said, noting that flexible types of work were not promoted enough and that support at work was not satisfactory.

"If we strive towards harmonious development, there must be room in it also for disabled persons, the precondition being a good legislative framework and progressive and well-thought-out business policies," she said.

On March 21, Croatia also marks World Down Syndrome Day.

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