“I would like to have my own food business one day”
I am a 31-year-old man with a visual disability. Some while ago I participated in the pre-work training course offered by the Secretaria Nacional por los Derechos Humanos de las Personas con Discapacidad, which was taught by Foundation Saraki trainers, and thanks to this course I was able to learn various tools that helped me to perform better in job interviews and to overcome my shyness.
I didn’t have a job before, but I dared to take the course, which benefitted me greatly as only by making an effort can one reach their dreams. Now I am working at La Agencia Na- cional de Evaluación y Acreditación de la Educación Superior as an administrative assistant, where I staff the phone and computer, deliver documents to various offices, as well as perform other tasks. My relationship with my co-workers is really good. They always help me out and accompany me so I can do my best. I feel very comfortable with them.
When I am not at work I like fixing things at home, and I love cooking! I am also thinking about enrolling in the university, and am currently considering three majors – sport sciences, gastronomy, and criminology – but I think I like gastronomy most. I’d like to one day have my own food business.
Maria was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at the age of two. For three years Maria studied at the Bala Vidyalaya School for Deaf Children, in Chennai, where she learned to speak and hear with the help of lip reading and hearing aids. Subsequently, she studied in mainstream schools. After completing her B.A. and LL.B. (with honours) from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in 2011, she joined the litigation and compliance team at Wipro Ltd., and currently, at just 29, is an Associate Corporate Counsel.
Maria works primarily in areas of immigration, data protection, and information technology. This involves advising various internal business teams and support functions on compliance with applicable laws and obligations thereunder, as well as engaging in corporate advocacy. Further, in September 2015 she represented Wipro at an international law conference at Oxford, England, hosted by DLA Piper – one of the top law firms in the world.
“I have always found the people at Wipro to be incredibly supportive and well-informed about the needs of differently abled persons. It is due to this inclusivity and promotion on merit that I was awarded the Best Lawyer Award (in the under five years’ experience category) at the Annual Legal Meet in 2013. The incredible opportunities given to me by Wipro testify to the e cacy of its efforts at promoting career growth and all round development for differently abled people.”
My name is Carlyle Gabbidon. I am 28 and the head barista at Deaf Can! Coffee. For the last year and a half, I’ve been responsible for managing the coffee shop at the School for the Deaf, where we started roasting coffee and brewing drinks. Now I am training the students in making food and baking, too.
I’ve always wanted to work and use my talents, but before Deaf Can! Coffee started, I would do a side job for someone, such as fix a laptop or a phone, and they would expect it for free. I’d say it costs 2,000 Jamaican dollars, but a lot of people think that because I’m deaf I can be taken advantage of, and they wouldn’t pay me for my work. When I was younger I went to a bakery because I wanted to learn how to make bread at a factory, but the boss said, “You’re deaf, you can’t, you’re too slow.” I said, “No, I can do this!” I felt like it wasn’t fair and I was discouraged.
Now we’re opening up a public coffee shop in partnership with another café where Fabian – my assistant manager – and I work alongside hearing people. We’re proving that deaf can do anything!
“I have now more than ten staff members reporting to me”.
Due to complications with measles as a child, I progressively lost my sight and was totally blind at the age of 18. Despite my disability, I managed to complete my degree in secondary education, but working as a high school teacher was challenging. I needed a fellow teacher to do a lot of things for me in class.
I set out to look for other jobs that I could perform independently, hoping that my achievements would impress a potential employer. My optimism and hopes quickly faded, however, after a series of rejections. What was worse was when people appeared to be courteous, saying that they would get back to me, but then never did.
Some might call it a stroke of luck, but I call it destiny that I came across Genashtim Innovative Learning. I was their first blind English coach conducting classes online. I was able to perform my tasks at par with my fellow non-disabled coaches using assistive technologies, and I got paid as much as they did. Further, after a year I was promoted to become the company’s very first Quality Assurance assessor. Being a blind person with a keen sense of hearing, I would listen to the recordings of other coaches’ sessions and make recommendations.
With the growth of Genashtim, I currently lead a team of QA assessors. I am also an account manager, which means I have the responsibility to deal directly with several key clients. Recently, I also took responsibility for our Content Team, where I supervise the creation of lesson materials for our learners. I now have more than ten staff reporting to me, including some who are not persons with disabilities. More than just a livelihood, working for Genashtim has given me a sense of pride and confidence.
“I have a college degree and a successful career in accounting”
My name is Kayla Wilson and I have a learning disability. I confess I have not always embraced my disability. During elementary and middle school I really struggled with learning to spell, with multiplication tables, and with being able to read in class. My classmates noticed that I did not understand things the way that they did and made fun of me. I did not know why I was different; it was very confusing and I had very low self-esteem.
In the seventh grade my parents had me tested and observed, and that’s when I was diagnosed with a specific learning ability that affects my reading and writing skills. As a result, I was given accommodations to assist me with test taking and I started doing much better in school. In high school the classes were harder and I still struggled. Fortunately, I had a strong support system with my parents, and I started participating in Georgia’s High School/High Tech (HSHT) programme.
In my junior year I participated in a HSHT Youth Leadership Forum, where I made many friends and found a great many other people who were experiencing the same struggles that I faced. The speakers at the forum were amazing. They embraced their disabilities, shared their difficult journeys to success, and were so inspiring. This forum was life changing for me! It was at this moment when I started believing in myself. I graduated high school and went on to college, where I had to advocate for my own accommodations for my classes and no one noticed or cared that I had a disability.
Now I have a college degree and a successful career in accounting. In fact, in 2013 the Governor of Georgia asked me to serve on the Georgia State Rehabilitation Council.
My name is Marco Reschat and I am 32 years old. I was born with a so-called open spine (spina bifida) and water on the brain (hydrocephalus), which has resulted in various health restrictions and learning difficulties. I am also confined to a wheelchair. However, I have also become quite purposeful and persevering, for I have often been marginalized and have learned that not many things in life are handed to you unless you fight for them.
My aim is to raise awareness for the needs and capacities of people with disabilities in order for them to be taken seriously and appreciated. There should be no more reservations about interacting with us, nor any doubts about our competences. We must remove the barriers that exist in the mind. This is why I have completed a three-year qualification process to become an education specialist. Previously, I worked for 14 years in a workshop for people with disabilities. Now I teach at colleges and universities to communicate first-hand experiences of the lives of people with disabilities to students, teachers, and managers.
As an education specialist and as part of an academic community, I make a valuable contribution towards Inclusive Education. Therefore, the Institute for Inclusive Education, which is an affiliate of Kiel University, has offered me permanent employment, and I can now live on my own salary.
A blind shepherd boy, now with full employment at a high school
Lukas Zida was born and raised at Boditi Woreda, a short distance outside of Wolaita town. As a young shepherd boy, Lukas was attacked by an angry cow, which resulted in his total blindness. Although his father lost hope for the boy’s future, by studying hard Lukas managed to graduate from secondary school, and then from Hawassa University with a degree in sociology in 2014. After graduation, however, Lukas was frustrated by lack of employment. He found it difficult to cover the cost of transportation and a personal assistant to apply for announced job vacancies. Worse, even when he did apply he was always turned down by recruiters because of his disability.
Fortunately, it was at this moment that Lukas was recruited by the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development to be a beneficiary of its Inclusive Skills Training and Employment Programme, funded by the US Agency for International Development. The programme offered Lukas three days of job search training before placing him in an internship in a government bureau for six months. During the internship, Lukas was provided with an allowance to meet the cost of transport and a personal assistant. The training and internship helped Lukas develop his work capacity by equipping him with both theoretical knowledge and on-the-job training in a formal working environment.
After successfully completing his internship and passing an exam, Lukas is currently employed at Otana High School as a student counsellor. As he reports, when he returned to his village for the first time after being employed, the residents were amazed at his success.
“Even with my disability I am contributing to society.”
I graduated in 2010 from the journalism department of the Faculty of Arts. I was the only visually impaired student to join this department, as at that time persons with visual impairments were not yet allowed to join. I was only allowed on the condition that I would pass all exams right from the start. Fortunately, I excelled in my studies, graduated, and then took additional courses in media and broadcasting, human resources, and English. Two years ago I joined the employment training programme of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, where again I excelled, and as such I was employed as the first visually impaired customer service agent at the largest call centre in Egypt. Further, based on my performance the company adopted the idea of employing other persons with disabilities. In addition, I was awarded a merit certificate from my company and was promoted twice, and currently I work as a human resources coordinator in the recruitment department and have helped in employing more than 100 disabled employees. Now I help in recruiting both disabled and non-disabled employees.
“I tell them that they must persist in their job interviews.”
I’m Yolanda Viera Zalazar, now 54 years old. When I was just six my mother took me to a nursery because she had to travel to visit her sick mother in another town. In this nursery a man came to make some pyrotechnical games, but he forgot some of his equipment in a room. My friends and I entered into the room and started to play with the equipment when it exploded in my hands.
Today I work for Ecuador’s Labour Integration Service, where I help persons with disabilities to find a job. This is the most important part of my life – to help persons with disabilities, to tell them that we can be useful to society and that we mustn’t allow ourselves to be discounted. I tell them that they must persist in their job interviews – not only to help themselves but to help their families a well.
Currently I am studying English, and my dream is to obtain a college degree, even at my advanced age. If I couldn’t do it when I was young, I will do it today – and I will do it, because it is useful to have a degree. I want to continue to work and to help people, and I thank my colleagues and friends for supporting me. The only things that persons with disabilities need are love and understanding, and I think it is beautiful to work towards those goals.
My job search led me to the Municipal Office of Labour Information (OMIL) of La Granja. I was already working as production operator, but I was looking for something more motivating. I found out about the More Capable Programme from SENCE, which offered me the opportunity to be trained as pastry assistant at the Francisco Frías Valenzuela of my municipality.
When I started the training, I had not a lot of expectations. However, now I realise that the best thing I could have ever done, was to register with the More Capable training. Thanks to the programme’s labour intermediation, I had the possibility to work at the same place where I was trained. It was better than my entire job search. I had worked in many different areas, but never in something I really liked.
A few months after finishing the training, already in my new job, I revived. At home I was always muted, I didn’t use any make up, I was fatter and this was a shot of energy. Now I have my own money, I count, I’m a women and I’m able. I can stand up and I don’t care if I’m alone. I’m happy.
Before the training I wasn’t able to make a cake, but a short time after it begun, I understood that I could. When I arrive to home and show my cakes, my family loved them; this was very important for me. My kids could see a better, more secure mom.
Before we had not enough money to afford the Internet, for example. Now I can pay for it with my own salary and my kids are happy. It’s crazy how we grow up when we feel able and have a salary. Now I’m working at the bakery of the Líder Supermarket and I couldn’t be in safer hands.
Learn more about how Chile’s More Capable Programme is supporting persons with disabilities to access vocational training and the open labour market, especially women and youth.