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Integrating Disabled People Robi’s Story

2023.01.13.

Robi joined STUDIO IN-EX’s marketing team this summer as a PR trainee, but what is special about him is that he lives with physical disability. He is visually impaired, which in his case means he can see very little at a distance and has serious difficulties with spatial perception. We talked to him on the International Day of People with Disabilities. Through his story we would like to raise awareness for the importance of giving jobs to disabled people that satisfy not only the employer but the employee as well. And above all, they should provide positive experiences and a positive mindset.

Róbert Edelmayer PR trainee

Where did you start your studies, where do you study now and what methods do you use?

I started my studies at a special school for the visually impaired called Gyengénlátók Általános Iskolája Egységes Gyógypedagógiai Módszertani Intézménye és Kollégiuma. We followed a normal syllabus, but we used special assets and devices such as the CCTV magnifier. I continued my studies at Kossuth Lajos Grammar School in Mosonmagyaróvár where I used a laptop to take notes during the lessons and I learned typing from hearing quite sufficiently. Currently I am a student at Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary. I use my computer or my iPad to take notes, because this way I can keep up with my teachers. When reading longer texts, I use Apple’s Text to Speech plugin, which automatically reads out the written text. I prefer using Apple products as their operating systems have had built-in accessibility features from the start.

Did your teachers and peers help and accept you or did you have to face any difficulties?

It is interesting but the teachers were more helpful both at the secondary school and at university than they were at the elementary school. They also really made an effort to help me with my preparations, for which I am incredibly thankful. My classmates and my peers at university were and still are similarly helpful. When I was doing my bachelor’s degree in English Linguistics and Literature, I believe, I was met with mixed feelings on the part of the management of the department. My professors were incredibly helpful, but I could not tell the same about the heads of the department and the educational coordinator.

The barriers of bureaucracy made my exams more difficult, but people’s humanity and helpfulness helped me through.

Do you get any special help or material that is specially prepared for your needs and is easier to be processed by the visually impaired? What learning method do you use?

When it comes to written exams, I usually get more time to complete them and at most of my exams, I have the opportunity to do an oral exam. Most of the time, the teachers share their slides with the students. I can convert these and the course books to a PDF format and use the screen reader plugin to have it read out loud. When I have to prepare for more difficult exams, I listen to audio files or even watch YouTube videos. The advantage of this method is that I can memorize a lot of information without exerting myself, as I can watch these videos multiple times.

You started your internship at IN-EX in summer. Were you afraid of how people would react to you?

I did not have any doubts about being accepted by my future colleagues, and it was comforting that I could work with somebody I knew from before. What I was afraid of was the question of how sufficient my workflow would be. Previously, I did not have any work experience, so the first day was immensely strange. I did not know what I needed help with and how I could help my colleagues. I remember, on my first day I was sitting at my desk in a constant state of anxiety, continuously contemplating what mistakes I would commit first.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your work? What successes and failures have you had so far?

The greatest challenge I have faced so far was the administration of our WordPress-based webpage, but because I am looking for challenges in my everyday life, I thought I would have to try this despite the difficulties and my inner fears. There are some tasks that cannot be done by only one person, so with the help of my colleagues I have learned how WordPress works step-by-step and ever since I have been uploading blog posts to the webpage by myself. There was no task that made me feel disappointed. However, when I did an interview, I thought later that I could have done much better. I am immensely strict to myself and in this case, I was not able to complete the task the way I wanted to.

Do you prefer working in team or individually?

Both have their advantages, but I would chose teamwork, because on the one hand, I consider myself a social person and, on the other hand, if I am stuck, I can always ask my colleagues for help or advice. And in a worst-case scenario, I can ask someone else to complete the task.

A lot of people are insecure when it comes to disability, probably more than the disabled people themselves as they have been confronted with such situations numerous times. What advice would you give to those who meet a disabled person and do not know how to handle the situation?

It is difficult to answer this question because I would have multiple answers if the positions were reversed. I noticed, however, that in our everyday lives, people have become more tolerant with disabled people than earlier. The only serious shortcomings are related to the labor market and to getting official administration done. If I could give one piece of useful advice , this would be it: Be brave to ask even if you feel your question is controversial, because this is the only way to find out what tasks the employee can do most sufficiently.

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