Verbund and Diakonie join forces in helping persons with disabilities

12/1/2009Wien

The Verbund sponsored Diakonie Empowerment Fund (Diakonie: charity organization of the Austrian Protestant church) grants emergency relief to facilitate a life of self-determination, thereby closing gaps in Austrian social policy.

"Communication is a basic human right. All the more unbelievable, therefore, is the fact that people with disabilities are deprived of this basic right in Austria. Currently these people have no legal claim to resources, assisted technologies or communication aids whatsoever. Which, for many people with disabilities, are indispensable life tools in order to communicate actively," Michael Chalupka, Diakonie Director, asserts.

"In this regard, the Verbund sponsored Diakonie Empowerment Fund is determined to constitute a milestone in the social responsibility of a company in closing gaps in a country's social policy: Together, Diakonie and Verbund are going to join forces and bundle their energy into creating a legal claim for people with disabilities," says Chalupka, voicing his enthusiasm over the cooperation.

Wolfgang Anzengruber, Verbund Chairman of the Board: "With the motto 'Power for Life', Verbund wants to help provide a better life for disadvantaged groups of society. The Verbund sponsored Diakonie Empowerment Fund provides persons with disabilities, whether from birth or as the result of an accident, emergency relief to facilitate a life of self-determination. This includes the Austrian-wide establishment and/or expansion of a counselling network for disabled persons as well as their families. In addition, the fund will help promote the early development of children and grant immediate financing of the acquisition of assisted technologies. All in all, a total amount some 40,000 persons will benefit from this cooperation."

Verbund sponsored Diakone Empowerment Fund
Currently approx. 630,000 persons with disabilities live in Austria, 85,000 of whom are people with learning disabilities and 63,000 are persons with speech impediments. Since recently, the Verbund sponsored Diakonie Empowerment Fund has been helping persons with disabilities, whether from birth or as the result of an accident, by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies allowing them to lead a life of self-determination. Access to these services is provided through Diakonie organization's counselling network.

In the non-profit organization "Lifetool", together with the Austrian Institute of Technology, Diakonie is developing assisted technologies and barrier-free learning programmes, as well as providing counselling and training for users and their social environment since there is no sufficient government support available to finance these life tools. The joint venture Diakonie-Verbund aims to expand the existing counselling network. This mainly concerns centres in Linz, Vienna, Klagenfurt and Graz, as well as remote assistance for Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. A particular focus is placed on the early development of children with disabilities as a basis for a future of self-determination. Moreover, the Verbund sponsored Empowerment Fund provides financial assistance for persons with disabilities in the acquisition and equipment of assisted technologies and remedial communication.