We’ve tackled a lot since the launch of this podcast: the lack of digital accessibility across the internet and ongoing fight for equality and inclusion, the disability rights movement and pivotal demonstrations, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the importance of incorporating the ethos of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ within any potential improvement going forward.
We’ve also spoken with some heavyweights and quintessential voices within the disability rights community—champions who are still fighting that fight, on behalf of all of us, every single day. This includes internationally recognized human rights advocate Judith Heumann; Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, who participated in the Capitol Crawl when she was just 8 years old; and Arlene Mayerson, a chief architect of the landmark ADA; among others.
On this episode, The InclusionHub Podcast’s host Sam Proulx returns yet again to where it all began for him, personally: his dad, Rej. He picks up the extraordinary conversation from last episode exactly where it left off: discussing his father’s three-decade career at IBM, his bouts with discrimination along the way, digital accessibility and inclusion, the future, and much, much more.
The dynamic couldn’t be more powerful. It’s a rare, perhaps unprecedented podcast conversation about these critical topics—between a father and son, both living with blindness, who both found employment developing technologies intended to make the world a better, more accessible place.
It’s especially prescient right now, as October is recognized globally as Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), and throughout the world, people with disabilities remain disproportionately underemployed.
As Sam, the Accessibility Evangelist at leading accessibility testing platform and InclusionHub Founding Partner, Fable, tells us, citing United Nations data:
“In developing countries, 80 percent to 90 percent of persons with disabilities of working age are unemployed, and in industrialized countries those figures are not much better, with between 50 percent and 70 percent unemployed. In most developed countries, the official unemployment rate for persons with disabilities of working age is at least twice that for those who have no disability.
“So no matter where you live, we’ve got a long way to go.”
He also informs listeners about a related initiative recently launched at Fable to help combat such inequities, called Fable Pathways. It’s a training program created by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities, and this month, features a course with (You guessed it!) Judy Heumann! All courses are free and available to anyone with a disability. Learn more at FablePathways[dot]com.
As aforementioned, our guest this episode is Rej Proulx, Sam’s dad. He spent more than 30 years at IBM developing mainframe programs for some of Canada’s largest banks, as well as premiering accessibility solutions to enable blind people to become programmers.
In this episode, Rej continues his talk with Sam, sharing how he ended up at IBM, some guides he encountered along the way, several critical programs and initiatives, his concerns for the future, some life lessons, and more!
“We human beings are, we're social animals, we're meant to interact, you know, we're meant to be comrades,” he explains. “And so, so you got to make friends with people, you got to cut them some slack.”
Listen to The InclusionHub Podcast
To learn more about all the topics and guests mentioned in this post, and more, binge the whole series of The InclusionHub Podcast by subscribing through your favorite podcast apps. You can also read along; access this episode’s transcript now!
The InclusionHub Podcast is sponsored by our Founding Partners: Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management software provider; Morey Creative Studios (MCS), a HubSpot Diamond Partner Agency; Fable, a leading accessibility testing platform; and Be My Eyes, a free app connecting blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers.