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Posters about disabled cause outcry

A controversial awareness campaign about the plight of disabled people on the job market has come in for strong criticism by pressure groups.

The Federal Social Security Office, which is behind a nationwide poster campaign, on Thursday said the aim was to use targeted provocation to break a taboo.

"We want to tackle widespread prejudices against the disabled," said Alard du Bois-Reymond, of the Social Security Office's unit on disability insurance.

He said he was aware that the publicity drive was very risky and offered an apology to those who felt offended by it.

In an initial teaser campaign, posters featuring phrases mooting common stereotypes about disabled people went up on Monday. The second phase, which starts on Thursday, refutes these allegations. The phrase "disabled people cost us money" from the first poster campaign is supplemented with the words "if we don't use their abilities".

Several organisations for the disabled, as well as the Geneva cantonal authorities, called for the campaign to be stopped and a public apology.

The campaign is part of a four-year effort to promote the integration of the disabled into the workforce, according to the Social Security Office.

Parliament has decided to reduce the number of people who obtain disability benefits as the social security scheme has run up huge debts.

Rightwing political parties have claimed fraud of the disability insurance system is rife, notably among foreigners.

In September voters approved a temporary increase in value added tax to shore up the scheme.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch


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