“Disability is a matter of perception” – a quote that is often misconstrued as an ableist’s attempt to disregard physical or mental conditions. Whereas in times of an evolving, inclusive society, this is a statement of enlightenment and a visually impaired individual’s pragmatic take on life.
“Affirmation comes from within” is more than just an aphorism in the case of Payal Kapoor. It’s a way of life for her. Losing her eyesight at the age of 22 made her feel like the life ahead was a dead-end street. But for someone with an unyielding spirit like Payal’s, life was only about to soar ahead. Sure, the path was rocky for her, but an insight into her decades of journey as a visually impaired individual goes beyond her personal struggles and victories.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” says Payal optimistically.
“Life gives you opportunities,” she believes. Life is what truly happened to Payal when she was busy making other plans. Displeasure, susceptibility, and constant blues had become the centre of her life when she lost her vision at the age of 22. Continuing with her much-coveted career in the hotel management industry seemed no less than daydreaming to her. But this was not to last for someone as headstrong as Payal Kapoor.
“I joined rehabilitation after 6 years of denial,” says Payal Kapoor as she takes us through the journey of her revived career.
“I ended up becoming a teacher and mentor at the same organization that I was rehabilitated at.” That led to the beginning of her growing confidence, which made it possible for her to bounce back in the hotel industry. “Life kept coming at me, but I kept pushing back,” asserts Payal.
“Today I’m proud as a blind person and part of a vibrant community of people with disabilities and being able to give back to the community.”
The persistence towards reinvention, to adapt to the technology as a blind individual, has been the backbone of Payal’s journey. From what appeared to be an impasse, to helping the disabled, to becoming a TEDx speaker, Kapoor stands true to her ideology to take life head-on. “I was a basket case. I was swarmed by doomsday predictions. But after a point, in every adversity, there was an opportunity for me,” says Kapoor.
“The core of an organization should be to put individuality over disability.”
The corporate world often fails to open its mind to the fact that there is nothing different about disabled individuals because they are living a different life than abled individuals. “The disability is not the real barrier. Ignorance and lack of appropriate infrastructure are,” shares Payal. “Physical attributes like making offices accessible for wheelchairs, incorporating assistive technology, upskilling and teaching sign language to the workforce can be a few initiatives taken by corporates.”
“Technology is the biggest boom for people with vision impairment.”
“Every step of the way, it’s a little bit of an issue. I started with technology really early and kept evolving with time,” says Payal, shedding some light on her reliance on technology. Inadaptability of technology by organizations leads to missed opportunities for the disability community. Inclusivity of the disability community in the corporate world can be tackled by utilizing the available technology and making it accessible for disabled employees.
“It took time from 1995–2016 to change the way of thinking in a population where 1.38% of people are disabled.”
Sharing some insight into Indian laws for the disability community, Payal states that the Rights of Persons with Disability Act of 2016 marks a huge victory by including 21 disabilities in the law, which were earlier limited to only 7. The law paradigm shift has been an aid to uplifting the community.
“People with disabilities lose out to women in the diversity percentage,” says Payal when being asked about inclusivity for the disabled and women.
“The intersectionality of being a woman and having a disability in India is not easy,” explains Kapoor. When you think of diversity, women are a top priority amongst corporates. While that is commendable, it should not take the light away from their incompetence towards building an inclusive work environment comprising disabled individuals.
“Disability is not a CSR space.”
Organizations need to take disability inclusivity as an approach toward building a progressive workforce and not do it on account of a mandate. Moving past the physical barrier and acknowledging individuals for their work and skills can form an ethical outlook toward the differently abled community.
International Women’s Day Summit – Shakti
The celebration of Women’s Day 2021 at KelpHR was marked by a panel of influential individuals who came forward for a forthright discussion on the matter of global importance – women’s empowerment – a subject matter that is far from saturation. Gender discrimination, hostile workplace environment, disability rights and quantitative solutions and more were a part of one of these dialogues and panels at the IWD 2022 – Shakti by KelpHR.
At KelpHR we believe that having a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is the key to business transformation and growth and that we must be inclusive of all persons irrespective of any differences. To know more about KelpHR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion solutions do call us at +91-95001-29652, email email@example.com, visit www.kelphr.com
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 8 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For any of our other services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.