Most of the organizations would think a lot to hire person with disability in spite of the skill that he/she possess. The reason could be that employer may not aware of the fact that how well they are independent enough in doing their day to day activities. The few examples could be that how does person with visually challenged work on the computer? How does person with visually challenged come from home to office and vice-versa, and so on.. There would be many questions as such in employer mind and there is nothing wrong about this. It is the responsibility of person with disability to prove their confidence level in front of employer. Having said that, some employers hire person with disability but they may not aware of how can we make them productive. The example could be that if the screen reader software is not provided for the person with visually challenged then he/she would not productive at their work place. In other words, he/she is not independent enough in accessing the computer. In my view, the independence is just not only depends upon the employee with disability responsibility but also it depends upon the employer responsibility as well. What I meant is that if the reasonable accommodation for employee with disability is not provided by employer to perform day to day tasks at their work place then they would be not independent/productive. Let us take same example. If the screen reader software is provided for the visually challenged to access the computer then they would be independent in performing their job. This is just a simple example and employer should consider case by case and provide the reasonable accommodation. On the same lines, I would like to share how independent I am at my work place and how well my employer takes care of me to become independent.
You may or may not aware of that I am person with visually challenge and I work for Deque software. My employer provides all the necessary accommodation to make my job independent and they are:
- Email conversations: all the emails are accessible. In other words, if there is any picture in the email then it would have text alternatives. As emails are very critical in performing our day to day job, if these emails are not accessible, I would have been excluded in the critical part of the job. Let me explain with the example how my employer takes care of this. We usually have monthly meetings at my work place. As part of this, one or other employee presents the various topics. Employee who presents would send their presentation to the meeting organizer at least one day before. The organizer looks at the presentation in advance and sends accessible version in the email format before the meeting begins if there are any complex slides with graphs/chats/and so on.. Are present. this enables me to understand the intended meaning of the slide during actual presentation. This is how, our employer takes care of us
- Internal tools: There are many internal tools like intranet, time entry systems, WS Assure, and so on.. In our organization. All of them are accessible. Imagine if these internal tools are not accessible then I would not have become independent/productive. Let me talk about this with another scenario. One of my known persons is person with visually challenged and he is employed. The time system in his organization is not accessible. It would be very challenging for him to enter the time that he spent on various projects during the day in the time tracking system as it is not accessible. This makes him dependent and as a result, he cannot be satisfied at this job. You can understand now that how important the accessibility is for internal tools.
- Internal documents: there are many internal documents like SOWs in our organization. As the scope of each and every project is mentioned in the SOWs and it is critical information about the project, imagine if these documents are not accessible, I would not be independent enough in performing my job. Fortunately, I am blessed as all of the internal documents at our organization are accessible and this makes me independent in performing my job.
- Online meeting tools: as part of my job, I would need to attend the status and client calls. I would need to attend most of all these calls in the online as our project managers and clients are in the onsite. If these tools are not accessible then I would not be able to perform all necessary actions. Initially, I had tough time with few inaccessibility tools that our organization is using. Later, when we provided the feedback then organization procured the accessible online meeting tools. With the arrival of accessible online meeting tools at our organization, I am independent enough in accessing these tools.
- Online meetings: there are monthly meetings at our organization. Most of the monthly meetings would be held in the online. Live captioning is provided in these online meetings in order to include employees with hearing impaired. it may not be useful for me but I wanted everybody to understand how well our employer cares about
- Visual assistance: you might be wondering what is this visual assistance about. As part of my job, I need to perform accessibility audit on the various sites. While auditing the site for accessibility, I may not be able to understand complete page as sites contain inaccessible elements. To help with this, sighted person sits with me and explains the complete page and this we call as visual assistance. The explanation about the page helps us to visualize the page and this would also help us to raise the accurate accessibility issues. This way, I would be confident about the issues that I have reported to the client. Trust me, there are dedicated visual assistance resources at our organization to help us in this regards. Imagine if we do not have this visual assistance help then we cannot be confident about the issues that we have reported and our reports would become incomplete/inaccurate.
- Accountability and equal opportunity: some organizations hire person with disability but they are very scared for some reason to give the accountability of the various tasks to employee with disabilities. Time god, it is not the case at least in our organization. At our organization, I am accountable for the project deliveries, quality, and what not.. Along with this accountability, our employer provides equal opportunity in the career growth. It is very cool for us!
- External assets: our organization not only takes care of the accessibility of internal tools and documents but also takes care of the accessibility of external assets such as websites, invoices, proposals, and so on.. This itself tells that how well our organization deeply cares about all of us.
- Infrastructure accessibility: I have been talking so far about how well digital accessibility helped me in order to complete our job. Let me talk something different now and it is about implementation of carpet on the floor. You might be wondering what this carpet is about. Our organization placed carpet on the floor for employee with visually challenged to navigate the big hall way easier. In my experience, what I understood that When person with visually challenged navigates the big hall way without much reference then it would be high chance that he/she loses his/her way. In order to make the navigation easier on hall way for employee with visually challenged, our organization has taken the step to place the carpet on the floor.
- Transportation: last, but not least, our employer provides transportation facility to employee with disabilities. Without transportation facility, being person with visually challenged, commute would become very hassle. Office transportation makes my commute smoother and easier.
All the above factors make my job independent and help me to lead my professional and personal life with dignity and equality. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Deque leadership(Preety Kumar, Anik Ganguly, Sujasree Kurapati) for making the work place inclusive to all. Trust me, it is awesome place to work!