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My Most “Enabled” Colleague Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Tanmay N. Vora, India Jan 31, 2006
Education , Health , Human Rights   Opinions


Over my total work span of eight years, I have had the pains and pleasures of working with a diverse set of people - intelligent, smart, average, novice and dumb ones. But very few are as extraordinary and as modest as Mitesh.

If I travel back six years into my career, I have fond memories of having a colleague like him, and the great time we spent together on the job. Mitesh was a wonderful human being - very kind to others, dexterous at work and very sharp to grasp things. He was adept at graphics, website design and Adobe Photoshop. Mitesh was a very energetic young man, barely 18 years old at the time.

He had a round face complemented by big round eyes and curly hair. His personality was uncomplicated, and so were his attitude, intentions and overall outlook. He always wore a big smile on his face. And he radiated confidence, which was very uncommon to see in somebody who is congenitally deaf and mute.

Mitesh used to work with me as a graphics designer. While the rest of us were usually annoyed by things like over-communication and noise-pollution, here was a guy whose whole world was wordless and noiseless.

The elder of two brothers, Mitesh was definitely more responsible. He came from a conventional middle-class family and his father owned a small grocery shop in a crammed marketplace downtown.

Mitesh could not complete his higher secondary education because of his disability. But his family had identified very early on that he had very good aesthetic abilities. They enrolled him with the local Multimedia Training Institute where he took lessons on computer graphics along with other related courses. His younger brother went out of his way to get a low-interest domestic computer loan from one of the government departments. Mitesh studied and practiced at home. This was his first job as graphics designer.

“How is somebody without acoustic or verbal abilities able to work in a communication-intensive software industry? How can he understand complex client requirements and convert them into aesthetic web designs?” I used to get perplexed with these questions whenever I saw him working on some web designs, until I got a chance to work with him on one of the projects.

Mitesh had excellent communication abilities. He would use facial expressions and finger signs to communicate. Over a period of time, he also taught deaf and mute standard sign language to all of us. We could make out exactly what he wanted to convey, and he was able to do so with equal ease. At one point, the communication became so effortless that given the instructions once, he would come up with the design exactly as anticipated. What a gift he had been bestowed with!

Despite being deaf, mute and cut off from the normal human “circuit,” commonplace human properties like personal egos, differences of opinions, misinterpretations and envy seldom came between Mitesh and his work. He could also concentrate more effectively.

We worked together when the IT industry was at a very nascent stage in our region. To spread IT awareness across the region, our company hosted an event for students and other professionals. Mitesh took the initiative to deliver a lecture on “Disability and IT” in front of more than 1000 attendees. He communicated his ideas with sign language, a Powerpoint presentation in the background and a female colleague reading the script. At the end of his presentation, he got a standing ovation from the audience! It was truly a heroic effort on his part.

In societies around the world, disability of any sorts is usually treated as a “problem,” and we have seen many instances of social discrimination against the disabled. The only “cure” to the “problem” is to provide the right kind of orientation and support. They don’t cease to be humans just because medically, some part or parts of their body is underdeveloped or undeveloped.

The key is to instil a strong sense of faith in a person, in his or her abilities and provide the right channels to develop their strengths. Disability may not be physically or externally curable, but with the right kind of support systems, disability-related psychological issues can surely be relieved.

Mitesh was just one of impaired millions around the world. I am sure there are many other inspiring stories elsewhere, just as there are many instances of social discrimination against the disabled.

To the world, Mitesh might just be one disabled individual. To me, he is an icon of human triumph against natural odds. To me, he is truly “enabled.”



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Writer Profile
Tanmay N. Vora

A software quality & management professional - passionate explorer of management/leadership subjects - chooses to look at brighter side of life - loves writing.

Anis Vora | Apr 28th, 2010
Very good

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