Celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Posted on: December 3, 2019 by Neil Milliken

Today, we are proud to celebrate the International Day for Persons with Disabilities and the global movement for change #PurpleLightUp, as we aim to support the UN’s initiative promoting the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.

To mark this day, three of my colleagues are taking the time to tell their stories and share their experiences about what it is like to live and work with impairment. I am so grateful to them and I hope that reading them will inspire and encourage more of you to engage.

Guy Lidbetter Atos Fellow & Advisor to Group Chief Technology Officer

“You would expect and hope anyone to consider it important to enable those with a disability to be as effective in the workplace as anyone else. There is a challenge though in translating “considering it important” to “meaningful outcome”. For the first 32 years of my career in Atos, I certainly thought it important without really thinking further on what that means in practice. But, for the last 6 months, I have had a rapid learning curve as my mobility has been progressively impaired by my Motor Neurone Disease. The result is I currently spend c90% of my time in a wheelchair with increasing weakness in hands/fingers and progressive decline in my voice. But my brain still works - at least no worse than before! So my challenge is how do I stay effective as my condition progresses, how can Atos best support me in that and, as importantly for me, how do I deliver genuine value back to Atos - I have no interest in token roles.

So Neil and I have that started; a project to demonstrate how the right support can enable anyone to remain effective in the workplace even in the face of continued physical decline. We will trial the technology for real whether eye tracking based typing, voice simulated talking or other innovations that may come. We will evaluate whether they are truly viable and whether acceptance can be achieved in the wider workplace. We will of course share what we learn along the way. The goal is that I stay productive but, more importantly, to demonstrate the route to greater inclusivity and increased productivity in our workplace – now that would really make Atos a great place to work.”

"Guy is campaigning to raise awareness of MND. If you would like to support, click here"

Arturo Fernández Rivas Accessibility Consultant Iberia

“I am blind, and I have been working in the Group for the past thirteen years, including ten years in analysis and development tasks in the banking sector. In my most recent career, I have been working on projects where accessibility is important. More and more companies rely on the talent and diversity of people to integrate their teams, and inclusion is essential.

My integration in the different teams has been highly satisfactory, I have always felt like part of the team and, on the occasions where technology has not been enough, I have had the support of my colleagues to overcome the difficulties. Atos is committed to talent and diverse teams and to promote technology that helps people.”

Denise Reed Lamoreaux, Global Chief Diversity Officer

“I have had a hearing loss since childhood, and this has influenced my behavior ever since I started communicating outside of my family circle. While my hearing loss is not profound, it does impact the way I work; where I sit in a conference room, how much I appreciate close captioning in our e-learning courseware, the way I interact with people in person. I experience difficulties when in a noisy room, as my ability to filter out extraneous noise is difficult for me and I have to make concerted effort to concentrate on what is being said within my own conversation. As a student, I was embarrassed to ask people to repeat themselves and often lost out on key information to be successful. As an adult, I absolutely must ask for clarification so that I can deliver to expectations. My advice for my global colleagues would be to not become exasperated if you’re asked to repeat your comments; understand that the person may have had difficulty hearing you, or may be so bowled over by what you had to say that they had to hear it again!”

More information on #PurpleLightUp here

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About Neil Milliken
Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion and member of the Scientific Community
Neil Milliken is VP - Global Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusionat Atos, member of the Atos Scientific Community & Atos Distinguished Expert. Neil is a leading strategist and community builder with over two decades of experience within the Accessibility and Assistive Technology fields and served as invited expert for the W3C Cognitive Accessibility Taskforce Neil is a member of the Board of Directors for World Institute on Disability, Non Exec Chair of the Board at Genius Within, member of the advisory board of the Valuable500 & Served as Chair of the Diversity Board for Institute of Coding. He is co-founder of AXSChat Europe’s largest twitter chat with a focus on Accessibility & Inclusion. Neil is dyslexic and has ADHD, he advocates for people with neurodivergent conditions as well as other disabilities and additional needs.

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