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.
“Inclusive hires demonstrate a zero per cent turnover”
We’ve always been willing to hire anyone who wants to work. There are employees with some form of disability in every one of our restaurants. We believe in giving everyone an opportunity. Callie is one of the company’s most recent hires. As a customer service ambassador, she greets customers, does patron surveys, cleans trays and helps customers with their drink and food orders.
We have a zero percent turnover rate with our employees with disabilities. For me, this is a key benefit to hiring individuals with an intellectual disability. From assistance with the hiring process to support with on-site training, RWA helped the business along every step of the way. Overall, it’s no different than hiring any other employee. You have to put the right person with the right job and RWA provides the help and guidance that you need.
The palm oil estate where I worked was a second home to me and my brother ever since we were orphans, having to take care of two disabled sisters. Work was as usual until one day, while plucking the palm fruits, I was thrown unconscious, having been struck by a high voltage wire. Both my hands were amputated up to the elbow. I was subsequently transferred to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for further treatment when one of my blood vessels burst in my left leg, requiring an amputation up to the knee.
At the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, the rehabilitation specialist advised me to participate in the Social Security Organization’s (SOCSO) Return to Work Programme, as she felt that with the right prosthesis and proper management I might be able to find employment. Two years after my injury, treatment, and the fitting of all the prosthesis I attended a job fair organized by SOCSO, and there I participated in several interviews.
Happily, I was successful and I now work as a customer service officer at Efinite Value Sdn Bhd, a furniture manufacturing company. Because the company is a very supportive employer, my return to work experience was bliss to me, which I still cherish to this day. A year later, and on my own initiative, I embarked on a study of Information Technology, and recently I successfully completed and received my IT certificate. I have also applied for a disability car license so to be able to drive and to integrate even further into society.
I am 39 years old and I have had a physical disability since I was 12. For a long time I had to live with limitations due to my lack of resources to buy a wheelchair, but my tireless spirit never collapsed and was the engine that drove me to realize my own dream: to build orthopedic wheelchairs for people with reduced physical mobility. At 18, I decided to start a learning process. I got a scholarship to study English in Atlanta, Georgia (USA); and at the same time I enrolled in the Eagle Sport Chairs factory workshop, where I learned assembly techniques for orthopedic wheelchairs. Six years ago I opened a workshop here in Ecuador to maintain and build these chairs, and today I am an entrepreneur – so much so that my work is considered one of the emblematic projects by the government.
I am proud to be the owner of Ortopedia Técnica Ecuador, where specialized wheelchairs are built according to the mobility capacity of each person. I work with my wife and employ three other people. I am grateful for Ecuador’s Inclusive Production for Persons with Disabilities Programme, because its advice to strengthen my business has helped my small company to produce 50 orthopedic chairs per month. Through this company I have managed to get ahead and have a decent life – as all Ecuadorians deserve.”
“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.
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.