During our filming for Disability Awareness & Inclusion Training, we found some time to sit down and speak with each of our actors to gain an understanding of their lives living with a disability.
In Episode 2 of our Disability Awareness & Inclusion Series, we spoke with our very own Ali Safarabadi to learn all about him and his life living with cerebral palsy. Ali shared some amazing insights about what he's learnt while living with his disability, what workplaces can do to make it more inclusive and accessible and what his disability has inspired and enabled him to do.
You can check out Ali's interview in the video below or you can keep reading our blog.
What do you do for work?
I'm an Account Manager right here at iHASCO.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
It's the fact that I get to speak to so many different people throughout my day. It's amazing...how many different people you actually get to speak to each day.
What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
I like to stay as active as possible, play football, go out with friends, just be as social as I possibly can be.
Are you comfortable with the term disability or do you use another term?
You can call it anything you like, you can call it a disability, you can call it special needs, you can call it physically challenged, it really doesn't matter, it's nothing more than words. It's how somebody actually treats you and how you feel about yourself that's important. Terms are nothing but words.
Has living with your disability taught you anything that you wouldn't otherwise have learned?
It's taught me to not let anything get in your way. Yes, okay there are things that you can't physically do - for lack of a better expression - but just because you're physically not able to do something one way doesn't mean you're not able to do the same thing, just in a slightly adapted way.
How do you find living and working with a disability?
Genuinely, I sometimes forget that I have one, when I wake up, it's until I look in the mirror and see myself moving you think "oh yeah, that's me".
What is your strongest attribute or quality that you bring to your work?
It's easy to say but I probably say resilience. Just keep going because everybody's got challenges in life. Mine are pretty obvious - physically, but others will have problems that you can't necessarily see but you've got to remember every single person in this life, will have something that they need to deal with themselves and it's just how you deal with it.
What can workplaces do to make a working environment more inclusive and accessible?
Ask. Ask questions. That's literally the only, the only way you're going to get any information and make things better is by asking questions. That's it.
Don't be afraid to go up to a disabled colleague or even a disabled person, it doesn't have to be in the workplace. If you know somebody and you're curious go up to them and actually ask them the question. I promise you, if they're anything like me they won't be offended, if anything, somebody's more likely to be offended if you're sort of staring at them from across the room going, "oh I wonder what's wrong with them".
What questions should be asked to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible?
It's important to understand that everybody, whether they're able-bodied or disabled, they're gonna need different requirements in life and it's just as important to just get to know that particular person because everybody's got value everybody can contribute something, it's just a case of finding out what that is.
Are there any stereotypes about your disability that you'd like to change?
Yes very much so. First of all, I have a limp. I'm not drunk at 9 o'clock in the morning. Just because I move a certain way - I think I might have said this - doesn't mean that I'm not able to do something. Don't assume that just because I look different or move different to you, that I can't do a job or something at home. Trust me that I will find a way to do it.
Has anyone ever misjudged your abilities because of your disability?
Yes. To the point where you can have a scenario where... We're going to play football as an argument, for example... "Let's ask Ali", "oh Ali can't play because he's disabled he can't play football he can't run up & down the wing." That might be true but I can go in goal. I can quite happily throw myself around. There's always some there's always something that I can do - or somebody else could do - again, everybody with a disability is different. It's the same point, but don't assume - ask questions.
What has your disability inspired and enabled you to do?
Pretty much everything that I can do. It's a case of, just because I'm disabled doesn't mean I can't do that, doesn't mean I can't go to work, doesn't mean I can't earn a living. It doesn't mean I can't jump out of an aeroplane with a parachute on my back, doesn't mean I can't play football, doesn't mean I can't go travelling on my own. Guess what? I've done all of that, and more and these are just the examples that come to mind.
What can others do to make society more inclusive?
Remember that the person is an individual, remember that there's more to them, there's more to them than just a disabled person. I'm Ali, I'm an account manager. I live on my own, I do a lot of things but I'm not, I don't want to be known as; "Ali the disabled Account Manager". I'm just "Ali the Account Manager who just happens to have a disability and I can promise you... 99.9% of the disabled population will think exactly the same thing. They're not 'the disabled person', that's just a characteristic of their being.
There are, obviously, there are tv shows, and there are things out there in the media that they try and portray minority groups in a positive light, but did you know that there's disability awareness day? Did you know that there is a cerebral palsy awareness day in the year?
These things aren't talked about, at all, because they're not mainstream and I'm not saying that they absolutely should be but a bit more exposure a bit more awareness of these things might help, in the long term, change people's perception of disability if people are made aware of it.
This video is part of our Disability Awareness & Inclusion Training.
If you would like to know more about what you can do to create a more inclusive and accessible workplace or simply provide your staff with more knowledge about the equal opportunities those with disabilities should be given, then get started with a free no-obligation trial today.