[Talk] Selfmade, Youth, Imagining Inclusive Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities
The focus of Youth Talk Show is for young entrepreneurs with disabilities to share their experience and knowledge to the participants who are young people with and without disabilities across Southeast Asia. The event is co-organized by AYF, AGENDA, IFES, and Australian Aid.
During the event, the speaker shared how they started their career and the challenges they face. All the speakers expressed that internal challenges are something they need to address first when they first start. The speakers then give their review on the current existing laws in their respective countries and they give some recommendations to the local government to the advancement of entrepreneurship inclusive of persons with disabilities. In the talk, the speakers also share their tips and encouragement for the participants interested in starting their enterprises journey.
The first key message from the talk is that persons with disabilities can benefit a lot from enabling environments. They might be a strong and supportive family and friends or the laws and system that provide them with opportunities and access. The second highlight would be about self-empowerment. This is important especially in overcoming internal challenges. The speakers encouraged the participants to always find a way to empower themselves and others. Last, the speakers expressed the need for more collaboration with the governments and called on the governments to also focus on raising awareness regarding existing disability entrepreneurs.
Date: Sunday, March 20th, 2022
Moderated by: Mind, Thailand, as Moderator
Beverly Bravo, The Philippines
She is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa (Local University of Muntinlupa) and currently taking her master’s in information technology in the same university. She works there as an IT professor as well since 2021. Aside from being an IT Professor at the university she is also a part-time content writer, assistive technology trainer, and a web accessibility auditor at ATRIEV IT Center for the blind, a non-profit organization that helps persons with visual impairment and other disabilities improve their economic status using technology. She speaks in different organizations and communities on the impact of digital accessibility to the lives of disabled people and how these organizations can start making their websites and other digital products more accessible to all people regardless of ability or disability. With her free time, she manages a YouTube channel named VIFAL (Visually-impaired’s Inclusion, Fashion, Accessibility, and Lifestyle) which aims to spread disability awareness among non-disabled people. And lastly, she also volunteers at User Experience Philippines, the largest design community in her country, as a researcher.
Nicky Clara, Indonesia
She is a pleasant and well-spoken disabled womanpreneur from Indonesia. As a person with a physical disability since birth, Nicky Clara was fitted with prosthetic legs since she was one year old. However, it did not stop her from empowering other people with her motto, "Limitation is only a mindset." After completing her MBA education, she finally realized that her IKIGAI is empowerment for people with disabilities in Indonesia. Since 2016, she has been active in several social enterprises that have a mission to empower people with disabilities. They are Thisable Enterprise (thisable.id), Tenoon.id, and Berdayabareng.com. The last one, she has launched @kamu_wear a sustainable fashion line at Bali. Since 2016, she and her team have successfully empowered more than 1000 friends with disabilities in the vocational, professional fields and formed a community of entrepreneurs with disabilities by helping them to achieve economic empowerment independently. She also actively shares her story to offer hope and encouragement to others who experience similar difficult life experiences.
Wong Liang Le, Singapore
She is a spinal cord injury survivor who went on to become an entrepreneur running her own ecommerce startup. She also works as an adjunct lecturer teaching corporate law at Murdoch University and is currently studying with ACCA for her professional accounting qualification. As an avid advocate for disability inclusion, she is a community teacher at Singapore Institute of Technology, sharing her experiences with undergraduates on disability challenges and inclusion. She also actively takes part in charity management as the Honorary Treasurer of Handicaps Welfare Association. Furthermore, she volunteers as a mentor for youths with disabilities at SPD as well as engage in talks with corporations to spread awareness of disability inclusion with SG Enable.
KNOWLEDGE & DISCUSSION
A woman with a disability gets less opportunity and also more stigma from the perspective of “normal” people in general. It is a common stigma that women with disabilities cannot be empowered, but it is unaccepted in my mind. I believe that I can create a valuable thing and broke that stigma. Thank God I have a very gorgeous support system which is my family.
All the misconceptions come from a general lack of awareness and understanding of disability. We are not that fragile. Dissemination information needed to increase the people's awareness about providing public facilities. And also about how to communicate with disability people in order to know their needs and what they can do in the working area.
How about external factor? It is from the lack of awareness of people. When I started this social enterprise is not really concerned about how building accessible and also really concerned about how to make inclusive environment for people with disability. Actually it is not enough without equal access in everyday life. The biggest challenge is how to convince other stakeholders to make a penta helix collaboration, an approach of multi aspects collaboration.
It is accepted that many people may not understand you, but it's about you taking the initiative to educate them in a nice way. In a polite way to educate the first. At the end of day, it's not their fault that they don't know what disability is. So I make it a point to be patient in answering questions about my disability or about myself, in general, and yeah just taking that first step to go out there and show your skills and even if you fail that's okay. Because it is part of life, and all people have failed.
I totally agree with Nicky that most of disability actually interested in upgrading their skills, they do not want to just stay in their comfort zone. So, our duty is to pursue them to break their limit and also to break the stigma in the society.
my advice to my fellow youth who also want to succeed in terms of technology and with their career and who wants to be at least financially independent. First to take the step as I mentioned earlier, it's about taking the steps you know it's good that we advocate for you to work on ourselves, equip ourselves with the right.
With the right tools or with the right skills that are required to the chosen field. If you want to pursue a field or a career, you have to equip yourself first, and also to not be afraid of rejection, or not be afraid of other people's criticism
A quotation that is always really close to me is “Limitation is only a mind-set”. So, I believe that it doesn't matter to us as a people with disability or non-disability. There is a limitation that we have and that might become our barriers to proving ourselves to break the stigma, to change the perception, to showing that to be empowered, or financial independence no matter what is my limitation. As a disability and as a woman born in Indonesia, born in a small family, born with a single mother you know what kind of limitation that I have.
Government should take a role in social media campaigns about disability awareness. To avoid some kind of resistance within the society and stigmatize disability only as an object of help not empowerment. It's about looking at the bigger picture to empower persons with disabilities. My recommendation to the local government is trying to reach out to the people who actually need the services. In the past, they have programs where they provide financial assistance to persons with disabilities but it's not sustainable so it doesn't promote sustainability. So I recommend to the local government to reach out to persons with disabilities and fulfill what they really need which is more sustainable and accepted.
Another challenge also about how media describe the blind people. I will not say it's wrong, but it's outdated.
I was scared to go out there knowing that people would look at me. Because here in the Philippines, the most misunderstood kind of disability is visual impairment. Not many people know what actually being visually impaired is. So, like what Liang Lee said, it's just a general lack of awareness, it is the main root. As with Nicky, who have a very strong support system, my family has also been supporting me since I was studying. Also some friends are always beside me. Both are disabled people and non-disabled people. So, they're very supportive of my journey in technology.