What its like interning at EnAble India

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)

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

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

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.

Break the misconception & know the truth

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.)

Transforming Lives

Profile Picture of Priya Suresh. Nice BIG smile
Priya Suresh is a content writer at EnAble India

“Transforming Lives” is the tag line of a popular brand which is widely advertised. This tag line always impressed me, somehow I love these words. What else can be more impactful than transforming others’ lives in society, right? So how does this popular brand do it? It sells fans, air conditioners, refrigerators and other consumer durables to make life easier.

I too wanted to transform lives, I have always had this itch to do something for society. So when Shanti asked me to join Enable India, I was overjoyed at this opportunity to transform the lives of people with visual impairment, people with hearing impairment and people with physical disabilities. I was doing this by being a content writer. Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound impactful, but that’s the truth. About a year later now I feel I have not transformed any lives. Don’t get me wrong, but the transformation has happened within me.

  • I value time: I got spoilt in the corporate world. Long breaks, luxurious offices, all facilities taken for granted. Well, Enable India’s staff and candidates taught me with little resources we can still work well. Work environment is basic, but full of love and the combination is stimulating.
  • I value people: The “greater than thou” attitude has peeled off. I respect my colleagues who are visually impaired and each new day I am learning from them about acceptance and working on strengths.
  • I understand inclusion: I have learnt in EnAble India that Inclusion is treating your co-worker as an equal. It is about making the office accessible, making all software accessible, thinking creatively for solutions and including everyone with disabilities in our lives.
  • Don’t see the world in black and white: Everyone has a perspective, nothing is right or wrong. Everyone has their own journey of life and that impacts their perceptions about things. Working with people from different socio-economic backgrounds has taught me this.
  • A better human being: In my everyday life I can feel the change that now, I am a more patient mother to my children, a more understanding wife and a friend.
  • Self-transformation: The result is that a lot of self- transformation has taken place. I am more of an optimist now, taking responsibility for my actions. Anger has been substituted with patience and perseverance.

My intention was to transform others lives but this beautiful journey with Enable India has helped to transform my life.I can’t thank EnAble India enough for this transformation.

EnAble India partners with State Bank of India

 

Small profile picture of PraneshPranesh Nagri is the honorary director of EnAble India.

I joined Enable India in April 2011. I started with volunteering, just going through whatever was on the server. It introduced me to Enable India right from the days of its inception. What wonderful work done by Madam Shanti Raghavan and later continued with the efforts of Mr. Dipesh Sutariya and supported by the earliest student and now a senior staff member Ms. Vidya Rao.

At the time of my joining Enable India I was in a discussion with State Bank of India on inclusion of persons with disabilities enrolled by them and never truly employed. State Bank of India is a huge bank, a company to the Govt of India holding the treasury and thus is an important financial structure in the banking fraternity of modern India. As a result of reservation of one per cent posts for persons with disability this and other banks have been enrolling persons with disability on the rolls of the bank. Just because the Banks believe that the persons with disability cannot work in a bank the thus enrolled work force remains without work, non-remunerative. State Bank of India requested Enable India to find out the possibilities of engaging this work force in the banking main stream. Enable India had already before my joining given a formal consent to State Bank of India and had undertaken to work in the area of finding a solution. Thus the team Murali consisting of Murali Kumar and Shiva started working on inclusion of the persons employed by State Bank of India.It was wonderful for me to understand the subject of Human Resources in Banks from disability point of view. The concept of Job Analysis, profiling the employees and customising and designing work processes for them was challenging but of course satisfying.

After an initial analysis of jobs we identified some 19 roles that we said will be performed by the persons with disabilities in state bank of India. We put up a proposal to State Bank of India for piloting the training programme aimed at converting this non-remunerative work force in to a remunerative one. State Bank of India accepted the proposal and thus started the first training with a batch of 20 Visually impaired persons at State Bank Learning Centre at Baswanguddi Bangalore.

The successful completion of this training opened up the possibilities of continuing with the programmes and even training the State Bank trainers for conducting such trainings on their own. Thus, Enable India did a capacity building training programme in the shape of a “training the trainers” programme. State Bank of India has partnered with Enable India in a number of batches being trained under the process. The employees who were thought to be non-remunerative are performing human resource as on today working and managing the HAPPY ROOM (Complaint Cell), ASSET TRACKING CELLS, PASS BOOK PRINTING, GRAHAK MIRTRA SEAT, RECIEPT AND PAYMENTS (LOW VISION PERSONS) and many other seats in the branch and administrative offices. As of today we have proposed to open a centre of Excellence in Banking for State Bank of India which will look after training and employment in respect of persons with disability aiming at being a world class facility in this area.

On 26th April 2014 Enable India entered in to an agreement with three RSETTI institutions of State Bank of India for providing training to persons with disability looking for wage employment and self employment. The agreement was exchanged by Ms. Shanti Raghavan in presence of an august gathering of senior bankers at State Bank of India led by their chairperson Madam Arundhati Bhattacharya . On the occasion two publications of Enable India namely GET INSPIRED –WORKING PROFESSIONALS WITH DISABILITY, BE AN ETHICAL WORKING PROFESSIONAL WITH DISABILITY.

THANK YOU SBI. I AM FEELING PROUD OF INDIAN BANKS.

Make It Happen – 5 jobs you thought people with disability couldn’t do

Varnavi intern at enable india - profile pictureVarnavi 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. Input for this article from Priyanka Garg, a current EnAble India trainee.

Make It Happen – 5 jobs you thought people with disabilities couldn’t do

Often people with disabilities are considered special, different from others and are hence thought of as not sufficient for certain core jobs. But with the right technological support, daily practice of required skills we can achieve targets and realise dreams. Some examples of jobs being completed by disabled people:

  1. Medicine. Many assume that a person with disability cannot possibly handle a very attentive, accurate and complex job like that of a Doctor. Saving lives, serving the society can be done if you have strong will and determination, it is not limited to any faction of the society, and this fact was proven by many like Dr. Y G Parameshwara, the first Visually Impaired Indian to become a doctor and practice medicine. Dr. Satendra Singh, who was infected with polio at the age of nine but went on to complete his MBBS degree, then completing his MD in physiology and is noted for his efforts in accessibility of public places for the disabled.
  1. Banking and Finance.The banking and money related jobs are often considered tricky for the Visually Impaired and Hearing impaired people, as there is a perception that they can’t identify or comprehend the complex math behind money management. This misconception was cleared to us by Ashish Goyal, the winner of India’s National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. Ashish was also the first Visually Impaired student at Wharton Business School, Philadelphia, he now works as a trader and a Risk Manager at JP Morgan’s Chief Investment Office. Ashish makes use of screen reader software to check his e-mails, read research reports and look at presentations, also the two computer screens on his desk, show flashing messages and spreadsheets of constantly changing financial figures linked to headphones, which read out to him in rapid speed. Another area where visually impaired may have faced a problem is in handling cash transactions. They can overcome this effectively by using new technological innovations like Cash Counting Machine, this machine helps the visually impaired not only count cash but also to check whether the currency is real or fake. EnAble India has placed more than 50 physically impaired, hearing impaired, visually impaired people in world renowned banks like State Bank of India, Goldman Sachs, ANZ and Deutsche Bank.
  1. Sports is a field where the people with disability are often not considered, but people like Marla Runyan, an American prolific runner who was the first competitor of Olympic as blind and has been a three time national champion in the women’s 5000 meters is changing perception. Devendra Jhajharia, a physically impaired with an amputated hand, a gold medal winner for Javelin throw in the 2004 summer Paralympics, has shown to the world that his disabilities don’t hinder his enthusiasm and passion for preferred sport.
  1. Hospitality.People often think that Visually Impaired can’t be good managers due to inability to “see” particular issues. Therefore visually impaired persons can’t open any restaurant. But to open any restaurant you need to know the following things like, where to open it, what to cook, what is the current trend, what is the food culture of the place, who is the target customer and how to gather effective man power to do that work. If you are able to achieve these, then no one can stop you from starting your restaurant. One such attempt is the ‘Dark Dine Invisible’ restaurant in Bengaluru which is managed by the visually impaired, the restaurant tries to make the costumers experience dining in the darkness.

Check the link below to know more about the ‘Dark Dine Invisible’ :   http://www.timeoutbengaluru.net/restaurants-caf%C3%A9s/features/see-change

  1. Dance. For a person with physical disability dancing is a big challenge, but with her strong will and passion for dance, Sudha Chandran who lost her leg in an accident accomplished to become a notable Indian classical dancer. She also has been actively involved in acting on television and in movies.

These are just a few stories which prove that disability cannot stop anyone from achieving his/her dreams. Whatever society thinks is impossible for the disabled person is possible, because impossible itself means “I M Possible”.