What its like interning at EnAble India

November 17, 2014

Picture of Ranjith- Rajath Francis

You never know what to expect when you go someplace for an internship. Thoughts lurk around your mind wondering if it’s going to be a fine, peaceful and jovial place to work or an “I want to get out of here as soon as possible” kind of place. Well, Enable India proved itself to be the first one for me. Fun, creative and a challenging place to work. With out-of-the-box thinking people who can make your life and workplace fun to be with, what else can one expect? Its one thing to be completely working under one person, but it’s quite another to work under three to four people. At Enable India, there isn’t a specified job description. Free and got some work which has to be done? Well, it’s all yours. Whether its Shruthi’s data entry or writing weekly reports for Vishnu or solving aptitude based questions for Julian, it’s all your cup of tea. That’s right, if someone asks you what you do at Enable India, you know what to say.

Work and workplace, both are two ends of the same spectrum. Now, when one says that he or she is working for an organization which empowers the disabled, a typical image flashes in our mind, one of people pushing wheelchairs or conducting seminars to boost a physically challenged person’s morale or something on similar lines. But, step inside this place and in a matter of hours you realize the difference. Dealing with employing and training people with disability, EI only pushes these people, giving them the confidence that they are very well capable of doings things on their own. Coming to people with disabilities, a common man’s thought would be of someone who works just to get his daily butter and bread. But, go through the very well structured impressive and professional resumes of these guys, and you might just want to swap your lives with them. Now, sitting in the main office for days together could get a bit monotonous, so EI gave me an opportunity to break that. As a volunteer to help in one of the most prominent software companies, EMC2, for a program organized along with Enable India, it was just a one of kind experience. If you intern at an organization like Enable India and tell people that you didn’t spend time with disabled people, well, that’s going to be a shame. So, while volunteering at EMC2 for the “Diversity and Inclusion” event I got the opportunity to help and interact with about twelve candidates who suffered from profound disability. Interacting with these people was fun in itself. Talented, humorous and fun people they were. Even if you choose to remain quiet thinking that you might be disturb them, they’ll bring up a topic and pull you into a lengthy conversation. The candidates were not the only ones worthy of praise at the event. Dedicating their life and savings to see a successful future for their children, the parents were the main guiding force and strength for people with disability. All together, the “Diversity and Inclusion” event at EMC2 was a memorable one. Things just don’t end there. ‘Asvas’, a dedicated place only for the training of candidates with disability. It was here that I was sent along with two other friends of mine to gain insight on the field of tactile drawings. Tactile drawings, a method used specifically for visually impaired people. Using different textures so that people who are visually impaired can feel and make out the difference, the methodology behind this was explained. But as the popular adage goes, “practice makes a man perfect”, and so we were also given the chance to work with the volunteers from Thomson Reuters in designing tactile boards.

If I begin to describe Enable India and tell you how good this place is, then I’m surely going to run out of words. My knowledge on words which describe something as awesome, magical, mesmerizing, brilliant, amazing, splendid and stunning are just limited to the words you just read. Enable India is all that and more. Getting an opportunity to work for such an organization is something which is going to remain as one of the best things in life for me. Each person here, and all of them that I met while I worked here, taught me how to go about and see life in a different perspective. If I feel low and skeptical of my future, all I have to do is think about those amazing resumes which I dealt with to brighten me up and get me all optimistic. They teach you that nothing is far away from your reach and everything is well within your grasp. If they can achieve great things in life despite all their shortcomings, then anyone can. I’m not sure who says this, all I know is that it’s from the movie ‘Turbo’, but this quote is truly an inspiration, and it goes like this: “No dream is too big, and no dreamer too small”.

(The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author & not necessarily those of EnAble India)


Hiring “THE RIGHT” People with disability

August 22, 2014

There are many barriers to employing people with disability. Inaccessible technology or software, non-inclusive processes & inaccessibility of the work place often cause problems and require solutions, however, the biggest barrier to employing people with disability is the assumptions made by employers.

 We often hear from employers regarding their concerns about certain disability types. Some concerns are valid and some concerns come from a lack of understanding or lack of exposure.

 At EnAble India we do not blame employers for a lack of awareness, rather we focus on building awareness, changing mindsets and hence creating change agents for the future.

 Assumption 1 – People with vision impairment can’t do computer based jobs

People with vision impairments CAN use computers, utilising a variety of different solutions including screen magnifiers, high contrast settings, enlarged font settings and screen readers.

The challenge will come in finding the Person with Disability who has received the right training on the solution that is suitable for them. Once the best solution is identified, candidates need training to build their proficiency. Just as in case of non-disabled candidates; no-one is born with a fast typing speed, it is a skill, which is built over a period of time with a lot of practice. Some candidates build proficiency very fast and some build their speed, quality and efficiency over a longer period of time.

EnAble India has built expertise since 1999 in creating workplace solutions for people with vision impairment, placing hundreds of visually impaired candidates in industries such as Banking and Finance, IT & technology and BPOs, to name just a few.

Understanding the requirements of a role and then matching it with any technology requirments or solutions, helps EnAble India to guide the correct person with vision impairment to the suitable role.

 Assumption 2 – To hire a person with disability we have to sacrifice some quality, productivity, or efficiency.

If a hiring process focuses on employing someone with a disability in order to fill a quota, it will most likely not get the RIGHT person for the process. Not every person with a disability is suitable for every job type, and not every job type is suitable for all persons with disabilities.

The key is to finding the person with the right skills AND the right solutions, which are suited for their disability. Solutions are found with the right training, guidance and expertise.

If skills and solutions are not matched to a particular role or an individual; ultimately productivity, quality and efficiency will certainly be sacrificed.

As an example, it has been seen that candidates with hearing impairment have been hired in many large companies around India. Of these, vast majority of candidates have gone on to be successful in their chosen roles, however a smaller number have failed to produce the right results. When it was investigated, it was often found that there was a culture of non-inclusion during the team meetings & trainings.

The primary reason for the non-inclusion is that the company may not know HOW to include someone with hearing impairment as a part of its work force.

Once these companies started working in partnership with Enable India to build inclusive practices, it has been observed that there has been a vast improvement in results.

If an employer is sacrificing quality, productivity or efficiency after employing a person with disability, either they have the wrong person for that role (same as with non-disabled people), or there is a barrier that has stopped the person with disability from performing.

Identifying barriers and knocking them down is what Enable India is good at!!

Assumption 3 – The only good reason to hire a person with disability is out of charity

Employing people with disability makes good business sense!

We very often hear from employers about their team’s increase in productivity when people with disabilities have been successfully integrated into the workforce. When non-disabled candidates see people with disabilities doing the same role, and achieving the same results, the bar gets raised.

People with disabilities come from a variety of back-ground and might bring a new solution to problems faced in the workplace. These solutions could be based on responses to challenges they have faced in their lifetime.

Teams with diverse back-grounds have been shown by numerous studies to find better solutions to problems!

If a candidate with a disability has been matched to the right role, they should be expected to perform in the same way as someone without a disability; hence, how should it be considered as charity to give a capable person with disability a job?

Assumption 4 – If I have to hire someone with disability, hiring someone with a minor physical disability will cause the least disruption to my team

Many employers focus on employing people with minor physical disabilities, believing that hiring people with vision impairment, hearing impairment or other disabilities is just too challenging.

By opening the hiring process to people with different disabilities, you increase the chance of finding someone with the right skills. By focusing just on one disability you may miss the opportunity to interview a skilled and valuable potential employee.

Whilst there are challenges involved in employing people with disabilities, there is also an opportunity to build a culture of inclusion.

Hiring people with disabilities doesn’t need to cause any major disruption. If you find the right person, your team can continue to perform and grow.

Assumption 5 – Hearing impaired people will not be able to communicate in the office.

It easy to understand how someone might believe that communicating with people with hearing impairment is difficult. The vast majority of people do not know sign language, and if you don’t know sign language, you can’t communicate.

In fact, People with hearing impairment state that the majority of those they interact on a day to day basis, do not know sign language. If you do not know sign language you can utilise body language and basic signs. E.g. Asking someone to come to your desk is very easy using common-sense sign language.

In addition, for conversations that require more information, sitting and communicating with the aid of pen/paper or typing on a computer is easier than many might think. 

Communicating with hearing impaired colleagues and staff is not impossible, it’s just a little different.

Hundreds of hearing impaired candidates have been placed by Enable India in companies such as Thomson Reuters, IBM, ANZ and many many more. Managers, team leaders and colleagues of the hearing impaired have learnt to adjust their communication to INCLUDE people with different types of disabilities, including hearing impairment.

If you know an employer who is ready to interview skilled people, contact EnAble India on 080 4282 3636 or email employment@enable-india.org

Author: Julian Tarbox   Editor: Dr. Homiyar

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of EnAble India)


What they don’t tell you about an internship at EnAble India

July 28, 2014
Picture of Kavya standing in front of main office

Kavya Srinivasan

1. There is never place to sit:

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and the EI offices will tell you that when you find somewhere to sit, make sure you just stay there. Don’t ever leave, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t so much as move a muscle. You will lose your seat.

The likelihood is high that the chair you’re sitting in already belongs to someone else anyway. “Oh, but Esther sits there..” “Actually, that’s Shivaprasad’s sir spot…” In these cases, the correct procedure is to ask when the owner of the chair will be back. You may be pleasantly surprised to find someone is on the field for a few days, and your worries will be temporarily gone.

I’ve spent more of my internship looking for somewhere to sit than I have actually sitting.

  1. Didn’t get a job description? There are no job descriptions.

It takes you a day or two to figure this one out, and it’s a big secret at Enable India. Every one does everything. Thought you were going to work on one project? You have another think coming. Your skills are at editing, you can be sure that you’ll be involved in something software or business related. You’ll do phone calls for sourcing no matter who you are. Everyone is fair game for data entry.

I mistakenly went up to Shanti in the first week saying I’ve got some time on my hands. Never again.

  1. The best thing about the day happens at 11 and again at 4: Coffee.

You’re eyes are getting a little heavy. There’s a general air of too much going on. You check your watch, and discover that it’s coffee time. Suddenly, it’s all good. The whole office pulls out little coasters from wherever they’re hidden the rest of the time, and for a few minutes we all slurp our tea, coffee or green tea companionably. And we munch our biscuits. And then we go back to our lives.

This isn’t just coffee at EI, it’s a symbol. It’s the grand equalizer. And is therefore taken very seriously. Otherwise impassioned meetings pause for coffee, sourcing calls stop for coffee, everything stops for coffee.

  1. Get used to no one checking your emails.

Saying ‘how-do-you-do’, that’s a formality. Shaking hands, a formality. You know what else is a formality? Emails. No one reads them, no one replies to them.

You devise your workarounds to this, and this is highly confidential and relevant information if you want to work at EI. This is how: First, send your email. Then, send a text message about your email. Then, go up to wherever the concerned person is sitting (god knows how this is done, since everyone’s sitting in a new place every day). Tell this person to check their mail. And pray.

  1. You’ll fall in love with the place, the people and everything. You will regret any internship you did before, and every internship you do after.

There’s a magic to this office, and there’s no other way to explain it. You learn, and laugh, and make friends. Every single person at the EI office has made my life better in their own way, and I hope I did the same! It’s a crazy place, overrun with wonderful, passionate and caring people who make you glad you’re alive and got to meet them.

(The views and opinions on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent EnAble India)


WARNING – Scam affecting people with disabilities looking for employment

June 20, 2014
Stop_hand_warningOver the last few days, we have seen  a scam doing the rounds.
It comes as an email to candidates with disability who are applying for jobs, and has the seal of a reputed company on it, with what looks like an offer letter attached. It offers to reimburse the candidate for the costs of travelling to Delhi and accommodation there. Please do not respond to this. It is not a genuine offer letter.
We suggest that you consult someone with experience at the Enable India office in the event that you receive a mail of this kind, before you transfer any money to any company accounts. Companies interested in employing you will NOT ask for any money without going through the appropriate procedures, and we urge you to be aware and conscious about fakes like these.
We hope you will use the maximum possible caution online, and report to us any other scams of this nature that you may have heard of. Do pass this message forward to ensure that others don’t fall victim either.
For assistance, call EnAble India on 080 4282 3636.
Simplified Language Version:
Email has been sent to people with disability telling they have got job from a good company. But the email is a fake. Asking for money to be put in account.
Do not give any money, ask EnAble India iF any doubt. Call 080 4282 3636 if any doubt.

LinkedIN – Driving skilled employment for people with disabilities

June 18, 2014

Sudhanya is an Intern from Christ University Bangalore, interning at EnAble India in April/May 2014. From a media studies, communication background. She is working with EnAble India providing social media assistance in-order to reach a wider audience.

LinkedIn like Facebook is another social network forum where you can meet people and connect with them. Facebook is usually considered as a casual forum where you connect with your friends and families share your pictures, videos, share the events happening in your life. LinkedIn is more of a professional forum where you connect with employers of companies, HR personals, recruitment personals and workforce personals. LinkedIn is used to professionals and companies for job searching, hiring people, connecting with employers, conduct research about the company and connect with various business related groups. This is a platform where you get to upload your resume/CV, write about your work experience, your skills, your expertise, get recommendation from your employers or people who are aware about you and your talent.

The top 10 uses of creating a LinkedIn profile

  1. LinkedIn profile is usually called as an online resume, which can be modified and updated as and when required. This online resume can be viewed by potential employers, HR recruiters. It’s important to have a strong LinkedIn, because there is possibility for the profile to show up as and when an employer or HR recruiter are searching for candidates with a particular skills, experience, qualifications.
  2. LinkedIn profile helps in sharing your professional information like work experience, skills, expertise, qualifications with others, It helps to keep in touch with the people in your company, your colleagues from your previous companies, people from other companies, your friends from your universities/institutions who are now successfully placed in companies.
  3. LinkedIn as a facility where your employers, institutions, friends can write a recommendation about you. This recommendation would be similar to a recommendation letter we get from institutions/universities, letters from previous companies which have information about your good performance, your skills, and your talent which would recommend you for a particular job. This recommendation would be an added advantage for you. It would also make your LinkedIn profile look good in the eyes of the employer or recruiter.
  4. Often there is a delusion that LinkedIn is necessary only when we are looking for a job. But it is necessary to understand that the importance of a LinkedIn profile starts from the time we start studying so that we could connect with our professors & classmates, through professors we might get the contacts of a fellow senior who is successfully placed in a good company and being in contact with classmates help to connect with them in a professional forums, they can be helpful by writing a recommendation about your skills and talents, if they are successfully placed in a company, they can be a useful contact to find a job.
  5. The usefulness of a LinkedIn profile does not stop when we find a job. Even if we are successfully placed in a good company and we are doing really well in this company, a LinkedIn profile still comes handy. LinkedIn helps in connecting with anyone from different branches of your company, it also gives you the privilege to connect with anyone be it a manager, or a CEO, vice president or even the president the company. This is an opportunity to build your professional connections. All you have to do is to send a friend request through your LinkedIn profile and wait for them to accept your request.
  6. A LinkedIn profile can be used to frequently update your skills, the project you are currently working on, the client you are working for, mention about a project you have successfully completed, you can write about the kind of job you are doing, your roles & responsibilities, you can write about all the companies you have worked in, the role of your jobs there, you can request you colleagues of these companies to recommend you which would be an added advantage. Most importantly you can inform the world that you have got a promotion or found a new job by updating the LinkedIn profile with the new job post and your new responsibility.
  7. The best advantage of having a LinkedIn profile is that when every time someone Google’s your name in the Google search bar, it’s always your LinkedIn profile which will pop up first rather than Facebook or any other social networking forums, this will help you understand how important a LinkedIn profile is. You can find most of the top officials having a LinkedIn profile. In fact few multinational companies have made it mandatory for all its employees to have a LinkedIn profile.
  8. LinkedIn has a facility of groups & pages. Through a LinkedIn you have the privilege to join groups which you like, professional groups, groups relating to your knowledge of expertise and skills where you can take part in professional discussions & also get a chance to meet like-minded people. You can also follow official company pages.
  9. In LinkedIn unlike Facebook you have the privilege to see who all have viewed you profiles, how many times someone has viewed your profiles, people from field has viewed you profile. This would be an added advantage for you as it helps you know, who are interested in your profile.
  10. LinkedIn has the opportunity to even search for a job, search through the field of interest, location preferred, companies preferred. This would either help you to apply for a job using your profile or it will navigate you to a job seeking websites like Naukri, monster.com, times jobs, etc.

These points are the clear indication of how a LinkedIn profile can be beneficial to you. So get started with starting a LinkedIn profile.

EnAble India can assist People With Disabilities create great LinkedIN profiles. Call EnAble India on 080 4282 3636 to arrange


Interview Preparation for people with disabilities

May 31, 2014
Varnavi intern at enable india - profile picture

Varnavi is an Intern from Christ University Bangalore, and has been interning with Enable India since April 2014. Coming from a Media and Communication background Varnavi is working on communicating the message of EnAble India to a wider audience.

Job interviews are usually the most intimidating and stressful experience for everyone who has ever attended one, but it is one of the best opportunities to make an impression on your employer and also stand out among other applicants.

For candidates with disabilities it is very important to prepare for the job interviews as the competition with non-disabled candidates who also might have better qualification will be fierce. Preparing for an interview helps to memorize everything you have learnt, it eases your anxiety and gives you confidence. Thorough preparation is a must to gain success in any interview.

  1. Before applying for a job interview it is very important to understand what domain or field interests in accordance with your qualifications. Try and develop the set of skills that are required to obtain the aspired job.
  2. Most of the company’s HR’s choose who to interview based on their resumes. Resume is nothing but a summary of who you are, your skills, your qualifications, your past and present work experiences. A resume should always be neat, precise and to the point, and written according to the field you are apply for. It is very important to keep your resume well updated.
  3. Before the job interview it is very important to research the companies background and learn what their company stands for and their future goals. If required you should be ready to talk about the functioning of the company in depth and about the position you are applying for. The company’s website, annual reports or news articles regarding them can be used to do research in detail.
  4. Prepare answers for the expected question from the interviewers like – “What is your goal in life?”, “Where do you see yourself after the next 5 years?”, “Tell me something about yourself?”, “Why do you want to work for our company?”, “How do you think you are suitable for this position?” Also prepare for the questions which might be asked according to the domain, your qualifications and your work experiences.
  5. Prepare to answer the questions with confidence by practicing it with a friend or a family member. These mock interviews might help to understand how your answers sound and how to improve them. You can also get feedback from your friends on how to improve your answers.
  6. On the interview day dress in your best formals, be punctual and arrive in your best condition. Be courteous towards everyone during the interview, and keep your answers honest, short and to the point.
  7. If you have any questions to the interviewer regarding the job location, salary etc, ask them in the end of the interview in a polite manner, and shake hands confidently with your interviewer before leaving.

 


Break the misconception & know the truth

May 26, 2014

Sudhanya is an Intern from Christ University Bangalore, interning at EnAble India in April/May 2014. From a media studies, communication background. She is working with EnAble India providing social media assistance in-order to reach a wider audience.

Misconceptions are barriers that interfere with the ability of people with disabilities to have equality in employment. Lack of awareness promotes negative attitudes concerning employment of people with disabilities. Some of these common stereotypes and misconceptions which are floating in our society must change:

Misconception: People with disability need our sympathy and pity

Truth: Frequently we find society perceiving disability as a tragedy such that persons with disability fall into the pit of sympathy. It is important to understand that sympathy & pity is something which will break an individual’s confidence to be independent & self-reliant. Motivating people with disability will encourage them to face any challenges in life and to follow their dreams.

Misconception: Disability is a sickness

Truth: The word ‘disability’ itself is often attached to negative stigma of an incapability to do something. The question is can disability be labeled as a sickness? Can disability be labeled as incapability or lack of ability? If that is true, then how did people like Beethoven create the most beautiful symphonies, even though he couldn’t hear any of his own music? How then did Helen Keller describe the beauty of the world and the lovely music of nature, without seeing or hearing? If Beethoven and Helen Keller can do beyond the impossible, then disability as such cannot be labeled as a kind of sickness but a challenge to achieve.

Misconception: People with disability are special

Truth: Frequently we see that people with disability are called special or being different. It is important to understand how we would term the word ‘disability’. Being disabled does not stop anyone from doing certain things, though it’s true that things are done differently. Does doing things differently mean being special or being unique?

Misconception: People with disability need our protection

Truth: There is nothing wrong in being protective and concerned for anyone. It only becomes a problem when we get over-protective. This would obstruct anyone’s opportunity to do things on their own & to be self-reliant.

Misconception: People with disability are super-heroes

Truth: Often, disability is seen as a tragedy of life and surviving is a great inspiration. It is important to understand that everyone is the superhero of his/her own life. By facing all the obstacles in life, we make our own life an inspirational story.

Misconception: People with disability always need to be dependent on others

Truth: Everyone is dependent on each other, in some way or the other. It’s human nature that no one can be alone. Though it may be true that there are some people with disability who are dependent on others, it is not necessary to stereotype every person with disability as always being dependent on others. As many people with disability are also able to live independently.

Misconception: It’s easy to accidentally offend a person with disability when speaking to him

Truth: It’s important that we be polite while talking to anyone and, to ensure that we are not rude to anyone.

Misconception: People in wheelchairs have restricted mobility

Truth: Today’s highly mobile world, where we use different kinds of transportation like cars, bikes, buses, trains, etc. to reach anywhere, has almost made us forget that we can walk to places. Can the mere existence of legs be termed as being mobile? Hence, being on a wheelchair can never be termed completely as restricted mobility. Mobility is only restricted by the barriers we place in front of people

Misconception: People with disability only socialize with other people with disability

Truth: It’s true that everyone likes to be with people who share similar characteristics. But it doesn’t mean that people with disabilities restrict their company only with other people with disability. Most people with disability have family and friends who are not disabled.

Misconception: People with disability have no sense of humor

Truth: Sense of humor merely means the ability to appreciate humor. Everyone likes to be comical and people with disability are no different. Hence, sense of humor is not something restricted to a few people.

These are just a few of the misconceptions we have about people with disability. It’s important that we give a thought about how disability is being portrayed in the society, before having assumptions about it.

(The views and opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect that of EnAble India.)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 499 other followers

%d bloggers like this: