Posted on: November 30, 2018 by Neil Milliken

The 3rd of December is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. To mark this occasion, I’d like to invite everyone to join us for #PurpleLightUp as we aim to support the UN’s initiative to promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.

As Global head of Accessibility and one of the sponsors of Atos Adapt, our employee disability network, I want the day to be a celebration. Today is a day where we can celebrate our identity. All too often having a disability is viewed in a negative light and, as a person with a hidden disability, I want to use this day to encourage conversation. Dyslexia is part of my identity, but it does not define me. It presents me with a number of challenges, but it also gives me different perspectives and the benefit of creativity.

I am grateful to my colleagues for taking the time to tell their stories. I hope that reading them will encourage more of you to engage.

Meet Leon Emmen, Automation & Robotics Lead in The Netherlands and Golfer

Three and a half years ago, a sepsis led to the amputation of both my legs, below the knee. This has not stopped me from succeeding in my professional career and opened up a whole new sporting career for me! I have been working at Atos for 7 years now; consultant, sustainability manager, talent manager and today automation & robotics lead: a rich professional path that I can combine with my newly found passion for golf. I play tournaments on the European Disabled Golf Association Tour and won the Dutch national championship for disabled golfers in my category, along with some second and third places in international tournaments in Spain and South Africa.

Currently, my focus in on improving my game to start the 2019 season with a bang and finally make the real progress I know I can make! My job at Atos offers me enough flexibility to improve my golf and properly take care of my general fitness, which is essential with my disability. I’m very thankful for the support I’m getting!

Meet Anja Otto originally from Berlin and now based in Crewe

I have been working at Atos for four and a half years. I’m responsible for ensuring the smooth running of our Marketing and Communications internal agency, as a resource planner. I review the different projects and build the team for each.

Besides being very understanding about how Autism can affect my interactions and perceptions of the workplace, my coworkers have helped me in adapting my job, steering it towards those areas that are more suited to my talents i.e. processes and IT. Since joining Atos, I feel proud of my career development. I’m also proud that more than any company I have ever worked for, Atos strives to stay ahead of the technology curve by paying attention to the latest innovation, like Clickshare and Condeco which we use in London and the OneDrive for business program which is rolled out globally.

Meet Rebeca Pierri, who faced new challenges inspired by her colleagues

I've been working for Atos Brazil for almost two years now and the way I was received at the company and integrated to the team made a lot of difference in my life, like when I decided to participate in the Atos Green Run in 2017. Because I am a wheelchair user I had never risked participating in a sports event, but with the encouragement and support of my co-workers and because the run was organized by my own company, I decided to take part in the 3.5 km category. Like some moments in life, the journey to competing in the run was hard, but I was able to do it, and be sure, at that moment, that nothing was impossible for me.

I am very grateful to my colleagues for appreciating me for who I am and for providing all the necessary resources so that I can develop my work in the best possible way.

Meet Kit Pimm, Technical Architect from UK

At 57, I’ve been losing my sight since I was a little boy, but I’m lucky. Lucky to have been able to surf an extraordinary advance in assistive technology and positive attitudes to disability throughout my career. As quickly as my vision deteriorated, a new wave of products appeared to help me cope, starting with affordable large monitors, high-contrast colour schemes in Windows, screen magnification and then scanning and screen reading technology.

But technology needs to be matched with the understanding of people. Even with superb technology support, some aspects of my work are beyond me, and this is where my co-workers make all the difference. It’s with their kindness and assistance that I cope when some product isn’t quite accessible, or I need someone to walk through the design of a user journey step-by-step. And that’s where I’ve been truly fortunate, because almost without exception, over 30 years, I’ve found my colleagues and managers totally supportive, and for which, sincerely, my thanks alone don’t really feel sufficient.


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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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