On 7 March 2018, more than 100 attendees came to the Saarland government’s representation in Berlin to join experts to discuss the opportunities and risks of digitisation in working life for people with disabilities. The ‘Digital participation – what about people with disabilities?’ event was organised by BAG WfbM (the federal working group for workshops for the disabled) in cooperation with the WfbM Saarland state working group. The key word ‘digitisation’ did not appear in the working world overnight and tackling the topic has become more urgent (including for workshops), as we must start shaping a digital world where even people with disabilities are able to participate in working life.
In his opening address, BAG WfbM’s chairman Martin Berg thus reiterated what was driving the event: ‘We should break down the topic of people with disabilities once more and seek to push forward. This event will serve as a springboard’. State secretary Gerd Billen of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection gave a speech reminding that the ethical aspect must always be part of considerations when designing a working world 4.0 for people both with and without disabilities. Interdisciplinary exchange is vital to ensure success in this endeavour: scientists, developers and workshop managers should work together to find the best solutions.
Three guest speakers offered insights into the current status of digitisation: Prof. Dr. Dr. Ayad al-Ani, Professor of Change Management and Consulting at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Prof. Dr. Christoph Igel, Scientific Director of the Educational Technology Lab at the German Center for Artificial Intelligence in Berlin, and David Hofer, CEO of the non-profit company LIFEtool. Taking the idea that digitisation has stimulated a development that leads us away from traditional organisational hierarchies towards peer-to-peer platforms poses the question of what qualification 4.0 should look like: the speakers provided exciting impetus and encouraged subsequent debate.