When we talk of disability, not everybody can look at it as an opportunity. The society we live in assumes having an impairment is a weakness and a liability to the company. The term disability simply means, any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.
I have a physical disability. I am fortunate enough to work for a Disabled Persons Organization. This gives me a platform to experience and work with my fellow persons with disabilities and those without disability.
As a youth and having experienced the hustle and bustle of job seeking, I feel I got the gist of what my fellow job seekers with disabilities face when trying to prove to potential employers that they are capable of performing well and even better at the workplace. Let me focus on the formal employment for now, better yet, in the next article ill major on informal sector.
As a job applicant ,having graduated from the university, gave me some sense of hope that my qualifications could stand out and maybe I would secure job opportunity much easier than anybody else. This kind of reasoning perhaps raised my self-esteem. Little did I know out there, the competition for the limited opportunities is stiff. I did several job applications with my spirits high, hoping to secure those lucrative jobs advertised. I made at least sixty job applications as per my email activities on sent box. Well, the responses were encouraging since my resume and cover letter was good. Good because I was invited for interviews.
As stated earlier, I have a physical disability, and wheelchair is my assistive device. I have introduced this just to point out how hectic and tedious it is for me to move from one point to another especially when it comes to our transport system in Kenya. I got an invitation for a radio job somewhere in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. I am always enthusiastic about media and communications and I knew for sure my dream would come true if I land that radio broadcasting job. I was so certain this would make me popular and every media house would envy my antiques and consequently I’ll get rapid promotions .This joy was short lived, since upon my arrival at the venue, I discovered the interview was situated on the 7th floor of that storey building. The only means to access there was staircases since the structure did not have an elevator. I am so sure even a stranger could read from my face that things were not so good. I was devastated, the guards at the entrance offered to carry me ,but I was reluctant. I turned down their offer!
Human beings react differently to different situations. Personally I consider carrying me as a form of indignity. I chose to turn down the offer and skip the interview. At the back of my mind I was fighting many battles, I was blaming myself for not asking prior to the interview for reasonable accommodation. Perhaps, the management could consider rescheduling the interview to a more accessible venue. But then what if the studios are still located there? What will happen if I get the job?
I had more questions than answers. I thought to myself maybe the radio job was not meant for me. I chose not to work in media houses and opted for Disabled People organizations.
Employing persons with disabilities: fears and realities.