Empowerment model for people with disabilities participating in income generating activities: a case of a protective workshop in Bloemfontein
South Africa has 7,5% of people living with a disability. As a result, they experience difficulty in accessing education and employment opportunities. This high level of unemployment consequently results in people with disabilities working in sheltered employment which are offered by the State or by private welfare organisations and self- help programmes that are not sustainable in themselves. The aim of the study was to design an empowerment model that can enhance the participation of people with disabilities in income-generating activities. To achieve this aim, the study explored the experiences and perceptions of people with disabilities working in a protective workshop towards income-generating activities. The researcher used a qualitative approach to explore the experiences of people with disabilities participating in income-generating activities in one of the protective workshops in Bloemfontein. A total of 18 participants were recruited, using a purposive sampling approach. Both observations and semi- structured interview guides were used to generate more in‐depth interpretations from the participants. The content analysis which is based on turning the observations and data from the interviews into themes that can be used to gain insight into participants were applied. Findings indicated that the participants were involved in most popular informal income- generating activities such as beading, knitting, tapestry and sewing and that the majority had not attained adequate education and training to enable them to participate effectively in income-generating activities. Findings also indicated that the participants were mainly faced with attitudinal and institutional barriers, which have had an adverse influence on their performance. Despite the challenges that the participants were experiencing, the findings suggest that the participants also benefited in various ways from their involvement in the workshop. It is concluded that despite government schemes and programmes people with disabilities participating in still experience institutional, attitudinal and physical barriers as viewed by the social model. The main recommendations are that education and training to empower people with disabilities should start from pre-school to adulthood as it will raise perfection which will enhance effective task performance in the future as well as provision of more training programs and workshops that will empower people with various disabilities with vocational and life skills. People with disabilities participating in income-generating activities empowerment model could enhance the skills of people with disabilities.