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WHY did we start DISEMEX?

One of the declared aims of the European Union’s policy, corresponding to Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, is to improve social and economic situation of persons with disabilities, breaking the situation of their exclusion from the labour market and providing their right to the self-determined participation in social life, reflected in the concept of inclusion.

Our DISEMEX project – DISability EMployment EXpert

Having started in September 2018, DISEMEX project aims to analyse best practice examples of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the open labour market and to compare them structurally, considering employment of persons with disabilities as the most important factor of their social integration. On this basis, long-term guidelines on adaptability and transferability to other countries and thematic areas are to be developed.

Within the project members from 9 organizations in 8 countries of the EU (Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the UK) and Turkey looked at the employment models for people with different disabilities in their respective countries, examinating and selecting the best practice cases in order to find possible innovative solutions for higher grade of a full professional integration of the affected persons into the regular labour market. The results will be promoted at local, regional and national level as positive examples, encouraging economic, political and social actors to update existing employment models, providing greater diversity and better quality employment opportunities on an equal footing, as set out in Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

In the course of the project the partners have developed a questionnaire that have been filled by a number of commercial businesses and social companies and which should have helped to find and evaluate the best practices under the specific economic and social conditions of the particular country or region. Some of those selected examples were then presented to the partners during the 9 transnational project meetings at each partner’s country. Some of the findings and examples were further presented at DISEMEX+East international conference in September 2019 in Dusseldorf.

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In July 2019, INTAMT launched a new international project DISEMEX + EAST to promote the professional integration of people with disabilities into the general labour market. The word EAST in the title indicates the geographical location of the project. Our project partners come from Russia and the countries participating in the EU’s Eastern Partnership Programme – Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The highlight of the programme was the international conference “Together for inclusion”, which took place on 19 September at the Congress Centre of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre (CCD Süd). ...

About the conference...

A part of these stories have been either filmed by the partners or acquired the already existing video materials describing the case in order to demonstrate the examples visually.

We are glad to have an opportunity to share these stories with you with a strong wish that they provide new ideas, inspirations and hope!


During the Kickoff meeting the first best practice, Project Router from Cologne, specialized in providing the employmet opportunties for people with mental handicap was presented to the partners by one of its founding members, Monika Labruier.

Since 2003 the ProjektRouter e.V. develops and implements new individually oriented forms of employment for people with disabilities. The main ideology behind it´s activities is that disability-related limitations and personal support needs should no longer be exclusion criteria. ProjektRouter is convinced that many people with disabilities can find their place in normal working life.

The person himself as well as the employing company receive a custom-fit qualification and a sustainable support if necessary. As an inclusion service provider, ProjektRouter already supports more than 280 people with disabilities and more than 65 companies in the development and implementation of tailor-made professional paths. Since 2005 ProjektRouter has been providing workshops for people with disabilities as a vocational training provider and employing them as an inclusion company, creating a broadly diversified and outreach-based offer from a single source. With the range of offers possible from this, ProjektRouter settles in companies willing to include and builds up a tailor-made, individually oriented qualification and support offer for people with disabilities with an inside view.

The motto of the organization, “Disabled people learn and work where all others also learn and work - in companies of the general labour market”, perfectly reflects the views of the consortium.

Yuri Nikitin, Coordinator and the managing director of INTAMT

The mindset is the most important

An interview with the protagonist of our success story has been presented during the project meeting in Dusseldorf in September 2019. Lina Maria Kotschedoff retains only five percent of her eyesight and sees the world as through a frosted glass. This could not prevent her from starting a career as a community- and start-up manager, at that point working at Stadtwerke Düsseldorf, guiding and consulting the start-up community. Since the beginning of 2020 Lina Maria has become an independent self-employed consultant. Her strategy for success consists in dealing transparently and openly with her disability, weaknesses and strengths and communicating this to the working environment. Although she has all the technical support she can get, she says that the most important thing for inclusion is not the technical equipment, but rather the spirit of the corporate culture.


Thanks to the legislation aimed at support of social cooperatives introduced in 1991 it had become possible to establish businesses to employ people with disabilities. Social Cooperative “Il Girasole” from a small town of Castelbuono in Siciily was presented by the local social worker Tommaso Marino, who has been introducing the concept of social management mediating various professional competences for local people with disabilities since 15 years, which lead among other activities to the establishment of two restaurants, where people with intellectual disabilities become an opportunity to get a job. The 3rd restaurant is to be opened in June 2020 and will include meal delivery also done by employees with disabilities.

The restaurant, where 8 people with disabilities have work was represented by the owner and two employees. Both of them told, how happy they are to work at the restaurant and how they love their job. The restaurant itself operates as an ordinary business, which has no special public subsidies and whose sustainability is based solely on the motivation and effort of the people involved as well as the local community, supporting the restaurant as an outstanding social initiative.

Defying stereotypes

“I love this job!” Antonio La Porta (21), waiter at Un posto tranquillo

There are widespread prejudice, that people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities, lack resilience, purposefulness, concentration, ability to autonomous work as well as communication skills, and that the society is unwilling to accept their kind of diversity in certain areas of working life. Italian food is legendary, but working in the gastronomy means a constant stress, a constant interaction with people, gaining over and over the customer's trust. The acceptance plays a fundamental role in this business. Our next best practice example shows, that it is very well possible to achieve acceptance and success in this field. It is also about how a face-to-face interaction does change minds. “It took a while to attune to each other, but then it became natural and wonderful” - says the Chef of the restaurant Giuseppe Pinzino, meaning the training; but it is about the inclusion as a whole as well. And it is worth doing it, just to hear from the special employees in conclusion: “I love this job” and “Dear life, I love you”.


When the barriers disappear

Our next example takes us to Izmir and shows us an impressive career of a young successful textile engineer. Niyazi Kocak is HR manager by Hugo Boss textile Industry Izmir. He started as intern, graduated in textile engineering and worked in all areas of the company from production line to office, always ascending a next professional summit, and he is wheelchair bound. “I had many barriers outside, but no accessible problems here at HUGO BOSS ”, he says. His fascit is: accept the disabled, let them become part of the community, give them a space to develop their potential, trust them to do the job, give them time, sustain what you have achieved, doing it all for everyone. In spite of his limited mobility, Niyazi Koçak has grown from a trainee up to a Senior HR executive.

HUGO BOSS Textile Industry Izmir was awarded by the National Employment Agency for the high number of people with disabilities employed. The company also stands for, cooperating with non-governmental organisations, with local and regional authorities, promoting the employability of people with disabilities, creating barrier-free spaces - in all senses - for disabled employees to act and to progress just the way they are. Currently 117 of almost 15,000 company's employees worldwide have special needs. Nobody here makes a difference whether he is disabled or not, we are just beautiful together, says Niyazi Kocak.

DISEMEX Project Partners:

Coordinator: International Academy of Management and Technology

The International Academy for Management and Technology (INTAMT) is a non-profit association, which has been active since 2005 in the field of international knowledge transfer and exchange of experience as well as the development and implementation of continuous professional development trainings and adult education programs.

Our core product is the demand-oriented combination of know-how and experience in different areas of education, research, technology, public administration as well as modern business and process management. We focus thereby on organizational and technical cross-sectoral innovations.


Bulgarian Development Agency (Bulgaria)

The Bulgarian Development Agency (BDA) is a non-profit association undertaking activities for public benefit, established in Sofia, Bulgaria. The association aims to contribute to regional development as well as to promote democratic and integration processes in the context of a Knowledge Society through elaboration, localization and transfer of innovative training and education products, materials and methodologies; analysis, transfer and dissemination of best practices; establishment and promotion of centres of excellence, establishment and popularization of VET networks; digital skills and digital footprint for young people and adults.

Go to BDA

Centro Internazionale Per La Dell`educazione E Lo Sviluppo Associazione (CEIPES, Italy)

CEIPES is a non-profit European organization with branches in more than 8 European countries. The main purpose of CEIPES is to promote the Education and Development of young people and adults through activities in education, training, culture, nonviolence, interculturality, solidarity, human rights, active citizenship, international cooperation, and promote services thus contributing to human and civil growth at individual, community and global levels, inspired by the principles and values of peace and nonviolence, equality in diversity, human rights, democracy and active participation, respect for the environment, cooperation, communication, solidarity, social inclusion, respect, tolerance and interculturality.


36,6 Competence Centre (Poland)

36,6 Competence Centre (based in Lodz, POLAND) is an umbrella institution gathering professionals from many fields establishing an interdisciplinary Experts Zone for local development through an exchange of international experience. Their motto: 36,6 is the ideal temperature of a human body, signalizing that you are healthy. 36,6 Competence Centre aims for every individual to achieve that kind of guarantee for a healthy society and work balance, endeavouring to ensure the quality of life at four levels: employment, education, entertainment/ private sphere and environment/ eco-awareness.

Go to 36,6 CC (PL)

Asociatia Centrul European pentru Integrare Socioprofesionala (ACTA, Romania)

The European Centre for Socio-professional Integration ACTA (Abilities Career Training Attitude) promotes the educational activities, professional and social skills development of young people and adults in order to be able to adapt and to integrate effectively in a dynamic society. Aiming to give equal opportunities to social integration for the most disadvantaged groups of people, those with special educational needs, social problems, and those with a high risk of social exclusion, The ACTA Centre organizes activities and offers support for children and young people with disabilities and their families and also has an important role in expanding collaboration between schools and NGOs at community level.

Go to ACTA

OZARA storitveno in invalidsko podjetje d.o.o. (Slovenia)

OZARA d.o.o. is a Service and Disability Company. It has a status of SME. Its mission is the training, employment, vocational rehabilitation and social inclusion of persons with disabilities (unemployed persons with disabilities, difficult-to-employ persons having limitations and barriers regarding employment and labour market integration opportunities due to illness, injury or functional limitations). Our professional teams consist of various profiles of experts (psychologist, sociologist, working therapist, technologist, professional workers, mentors, managers, financial managers, project managers, qualified workers etc.).


Izmir Governorship – EU and Foreign Relations Bureau (Turkey)

Izmir Governorship represents the central government at provincial level. It is the highest public authority in the province and has a large structure that coordinates all activities in Izmir, the third biggest city in Turkey with a population of 4 million. The scope of activities includes education, security, environment, public works, culture, social services, health, integration of the disadvantaged      into the society, EU related activities etc.
The Izmir Governorship has 256 staff. There are several subunits under the Governorship, and the European Union and Foreign Relations Office is one of them. The Centre plays an active role in dissemination, exploitation, evaluation and the implementation parts of the projects in the Izmir province. The Centre has broad experience in developing partnerships, and is able to support and promote the implementation of European policy agenda for growth, jobs, equality and social inclusion at local, national and EU level.

Go to Izmir Governorship

Engelsiz Toplum Olusturma Dernegi (ETOD, Turkey)

Engelsiz Toplum Oluşturma Derneği - ETOD was established in 27.10 2009 in Ankara. Our aim is to draw attention to children with mental and physical disabilities and raise awareness among the community we live in. For those people who do not have citizenship rights, especially mothers, we aim to increase awareness in; mother and child relations, mother and father, wife and husband relations, mother and school relations, mother and community relations, mother and neighborhood relations, mother and public community relations, mother and civil rights relations, and prepare seminars with the participants at the advisory board in public schools.

Go to ETOD

36,6 Competence Centre (United Kingdom)

36.6 Competence Centre (Scotland) established in 2015 is a franchise of the highly successful Polish company 36,6 Competence Centre (based in Lodz, POLAND) This new and dynamic organisation has been developed to increase European activity and to widen the programme of delivery to Scottish Employment sector organisations. The Scottish branch further develops the continuing EU work by adopting a similar approach through working with various organisations and acting as an umbrella company. This independent Scottish company models and complements the activities of 36.6 CC in Poland and we are mirroring these activities in Scotland along with increasing training delivery methodologies.

Go to 36,6 CC (UK)

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The DISEMEX project is co-founded by Erasmus+ Programme: Cooperation for Innovation and the exchange of Good Practice. For any additional information, contact your closest partner or visit our website: www.disemex.eu
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