Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are urging people to see those with disabilities as capable individuals and help give them chances to land jobs so they can support themselves.
Physically challenged people in particular need help with learning new skills so they can be more self-reliant and live with dignity and pride, said Pharani Phuprasoet, director of Thai Health Promotion Foundation's (ThaiHealth) Office for Health Promotion in Specific Groups.
Citing data as of March last year, she said Thailand has more than 2 million disabled people, about 850,000 of whom are of working age, while only about 530,000 have a proper job.
Despite the fact that up to 1.6 million disabled people have some access to education, less than 2% have made it into higher education, which reflects the limited education opportunities available to disabled people, she said.
"Most disabled people want to work with a good company, a shop or a factory, but they don't have the qualifications," she said.
A 2007 Act on promoting the development of the quality of life of disabled people requires state and private organisations to hire one disabled person per 100 staff members, she said.
However, if they really cannot hire a disabled worker, the organisations are allowed to contribute monthly to a fund that promotes the employment of disabled people instead.
The Social Innovation Foundation (SIF) has seen more than 50,000 disabled people hired to work and earn at least 9,000 baht a month over the past eight years, said Apichart Karoonkornsakul, president of the SIF.
"It's physically and mentally healthy if they are able to go out to work with other people, learn new skills and feel they are accepted by their families and communities," he said.
The foundation coordinates job opportunities for disabled people in communities while these organisations fund the costs of hiring disabled workers instead of paying a contribution into the fund as they usually do, he said.
The SIF and its partners are also setting up an association to promote equal opportunities and create jobs for disabled people, he said.
Disabled people who now have a good job and better life will also be encouraged to contribute 10 baht each day to a fund that helps defray the set-up cost, he said.
Santi Lapbenchakun, director of Tha Wung Hospital, a state hospital in Tha Wung district of Lop Buri, said about 300 disabled people have been hired to work at some 100 tambon health promotion centres over the past five years.
Vulcan Coalition Co, an artificial intelligence start-up, said it has hired more than 500 disabled people around the country to work as trainers of its Text-to-speech AI, said Natthaphat Thawikan, learning and development officer of the company.