If we work, we get an opportunity to learn new skills. László Bercse: Europe in Action 2021 speech

Life with an intellectual disability - interview series by Inclusion Europe

If we work, we get an opportunity to learn new skills. László Bercse: Europe in Action 2021 speech

Click on a word which is in blue and bold to read what it means.

Easy-to-read logo

Speech from László Bercse at Europe in Action 2021 conference.


I am László Bercse from Hungary.

I am the chairperson of EPSA,

which is the European Platform of Self-Advocates.

I am also the Vice-president of Inclusion Europe.


Let me welcome you to Europe in Action 2021 conference.

I am glad that at least this way

we can meet each other.

Today I would like to talk about

why employment is important for self-advocates

why employment is needed in order to achieve inclusion

and how the coronavirus pandemic affected

the employment of people with intellectual disabilities.


Self-advocates want to live independently.

We want to live like anyone else.

We need money to be able to do this.


We also like to go to the movies

to the theatre, to have fun.

This is only possible,
if we have a job and a fair salary.


At the same time, we might need support

to live independently.

Good support and good quality services

cost a lot.


If we work, we get an opportunity

to learn new skills

gain new experiences

and to meet new people.


So, it is clear:

We need to make sure,

that people with intellectual disabilities can work.

We want real work, in the open labour market.

We want to do something useful!

We want a normal salary, not pocket money.


Employment is also crucial for inclusion.

We want to contribute to society.

It is better for everyone if we can work too.

Although, we must not forget:

We shouldn’t just value people

according to their ability to work.

People who are not able to work

are valuable as well.


There are people who cannot find work

due to lack of right jobs

or lack of the right skills.


Or, most likely, they’ve never had

the right support to find a job.

Self-advocates might need support

to find a job and to do the job.

In order to find a job,

we also need to access vocational training.


We need to make sure,

that people with intellectual disabilities

can work together with other people.

To make this happen,

we need employers and colleagues

who are prepared and open.

They need to know us, include us

and to adapt to our skills.


I must emphasise:

Family members need support in employment as well.

Many family members cannot work,

because they need to care for their relative

with high support needs.


As a result, many families face discrimination,

exclusion and poverty.


If we want the full inclusion

of persons with intellectual disability,

we need to work for the inclusion of their families too.


I am lucky because I have a job, which I enjoy.

I have support to do my job.

I have been able to work from home

since last spring.

Unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky.

The coronavirus affected our lives,

and employment as well.

The pandemic made existing issues even more visible.


Last year, EPSA did a questionnaire.

We asked our members,

how the pandemic effected their lives.

Many self-advocates mentioned employment in their answers.


Self-advocates were worried

that they were going to lose their jobs

because of the pandemic.

And many unfortunately did.

So, governments must consider us,

when planning support measures for unemployed persons.

They must consider us

when planning the protection

measures against COVID-19

and the recovery after the crisis.


The European Union and national money

for economic recovery must reach people

with intellectual disabilities and families.


The money must go into support,

especially in inclusive education

and in employment for people with intellectual disabilities.

Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.

This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.

Being visible and vocal on issues directly affecting millions of people requires your support. 

Become Inclusion Europe supporter and help us keep doing our work.