When I started losing my eyesight during my school days, studying the materials in printed and written formats became a major impediment. I could not take my secondary board examination and continue with my schooling. It was difficult for a bright student like me not to be able to continue in school due to vision loss—something even the doctors failed to explain or cure. During that time, one of my teachers shared that she had heard of 'talking computers', which she thought could help me out. Armed with this faint ray of hope, I began my quest to bring my life back on track.
Charting my course: Shaping my dream
While living in a small town in Chhattisgarh, I began my search for a ‘talking computer’, and as expected, none of the local dealers had heard about it. I was undaunted and hopeful even after contacting at least 50 dealers. My persistence finally paid off when one day, I came across a dealer who not only knew about it but also readily connected me with a visually impaired legal officer who was using a ‘talking computer’ to do his work. This legal officer taught me to use the screen reading software, Jaws, and that became a turning point in my life.
I restarted my education as a private student and then through my school, I topped the Commerce stream in the senior secondary board examination. This helped me secure admission at Shriram College of Commerce (University of Delhi), from where my journey took me to IIM Ahmedabad to pursue a master’s in business administration (MBA). Apart from studies, I was actively involved in National Service Scheme events, and cultural and management fests in various capacities throughout my college life.
Navigating bias: From inspiring to employable
After completing my MBA, I initially faced hurdles during the placement as the recruiters would only focus on my disability. To overcome this bias, I started adding details regarding my disability, along with basic information about my ability to use an accessible laptop and phone, navigate my routine and travel alone, and my ways of teaming. This effort paid off as the interview shifted to being more about my abilities. The first company I worked for did not have a structured approach toward Persons with Disabilities (PwD) awareness and accommodation. This meant that even after receiving top awards for performance, my assimilation continued to be a challenge.
Life at Deloitte: Nuanced and enriching
When I joined Deloitte US-India offices (USI), I was provided with a PwD buddy and access to Deloitte USI PwD council for my onboarding. This was a first for me. I am a part of the Corporate Finance team, which provides me with the resources to create a significant impact in my chosen field. While Deloitte USI PwD council helped to ensure accessibility to DeloitteNet modules, my colleagues patiently helped me learn how to navigate the research database with a screen reader. I have spent over six months at Deloitte USI, and, I have not faced any major challenge with accessibility or assimilation. I have shared feedback wherever I have felt processes could be improved and have got those addressed.
To conclude, irrespective of whatever milestone or success one achieves, there is always an opportunity to move to greater heights. This motivates me to work harder and always have the approach of a problem solver and solution seeker to deal with any obstacle.
The views expressed here are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of his current, former, or future employers or any organization with which he is associated.