Inclusivity in the post-COVID Age

This event is part of the Remarkable Insights series.

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally on 3 December each year. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

This year’s IDPwD theme was ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’. To celebrate and honour this theme we hosted a Remarkable Insights conversation with a focus on Inclusivity in the post-COVID Age.

We welcomed Hannah Diviney, Co-Editor In Chief & Head of Creative at Missing Perspectives, as guest moderator for this event, as well as an amazing lineup of panelists!


The views expressed are solely those of the contributors.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Ok5ipQerg[/embedyt]


Download a copy of the transcript

[00:04 – 04:50] Hannah Diviney, Co-Editor In Chief & Head of Creative at Missing Perspectives

Hi everyone I’m Hannah Diviney a writer and disability advocate with cerebral palsy it is my immense pleasure to welcome you to a Remarkable tech panel discussion. I’m also the co-founder editor-in-chief and creative lead and Missing Perspectives and to give you an idea of what I look like for anyone who’s wondering I’m a young white woman in my 20s who navigates the world in a wheelchair. So Remarkable is the venture arm of Cerebral Palsy Alliance with backing from principal partner Icare as well as Telstra, Vivcort and Microsoft Remarkable is where technology meets human potential and we see an incredible gap in progress and innovation in technology that breaks down barriers to the inclusion of people with disability. Remarkable runs a 16-week accelerated program that equips early-stage startups with seed funding, mentoring and support networks to commercialise their startups. Now I want to take a minute and acknowledge that I’m speaking to you today from the land of the Dharawal people of the Eora nation this is their land never ceided always sacred and I pay respect to the eldest past present and emerging of this place. I also acknowledge we have people joining us from many other places and I pay my respects to the traditional owners and elders of those places too. Please feel free to share what land you are watching or listening from today in the chat I would also like to acknowledge the advocates who have played a role in advancing the rights of people with disability leading society to address the inequalities faced by people with disability they have paved the way for us we carry a privilege and a responsibility because of that history. Today we’re celebrating the international day of people with disabilities which is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally on the 3rd of December each year it aims to increase public awareness understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate our achievements and contributions. This year’s international day of people with disability theme is leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive accessible and sustainable post-covid19 world, you think they could have made that a bit catchier right? To celebrate and honour this theme today’s conversation will indeed focus on inclusivity in the post-Covid age. For anyone who wants to join the conversation on social media our handle on Twitter Facebook and LinkedIn is @ remarkable tech #remarkableinsights this event has live captioning by otter.ai and our wonderful Auslan Interpreter is Therese Lewis. We will be recording this event and it will be made available post the event on remarkable tech’s youtube channel so be sure to subscribe if you want to share it with your friends family colleagues and community. It’s now my pleasure to introduce our three panelists to this morning’s conversation first thanks in my warmest welcome to Steven Ralph the co-founder and ambassador of Maslow for people from Sydney Australia then I would like to introduce Varun Chandak the founder and president of access to success who’s joining us from Toronto Canada and finally Julie Duong the director of empowering solutions and policy and program development officer at the City of Sydney so she’s obviously also joining us from Sydney Australia. Welcome to each of you thank you so much for joining us this morning  I’d like to invite each of our panelists to give a quick one to two sentence description of yourselves for the benefit of our audience if you don’t mind so Steve we might start with you.

[04:45 – 05:01] Steven Ralph, Co-Founder & Ambassador of Maslow for People

Alright thanks, Hannah good morning everybody, yeah my name is Steve I’m a young white male as well sitting in the living room I’ll also navigate the world using a wheelchair similar to yourself Hannah after suffering spinal cord injury.

[05:01 – 05:14] Varun Chandak, Founder & President Access to Success

Hi everyone this is Varun speaking I’m a young Indian male wearing glasses and I’m sitting in front of a virtual background that is blue in orange and says ATS Labs 2021.

[05:14 – 05:33] Julie Duong, Director of Empowering Solutions and Policy & Program Development Officer at City of Sydney

Hi everyone Julie Duong here a pleasure to be here this morning I’m a Chinese woman a wheelchair user and I am I’ve got long dark black hair and I am just passionate about disability inclusion and really for everyone.

[05:33 – 06:13] Hannah Diviney

okay with that done let’s get started with our panel so my first question is to you Steve and this is talking about the impact of Covid for anyone who doesn’t know and I hope this is okay it’s more of a personal curiosity, I guess you’ve come into the experience of life as a disabled person relatively recently so how has the pandemic impacted you I guess like learning the ropes yeah sure of what it means to live as a disabled person?

[06:13 – 08:01] Steven Ralph

Yeah thanks so much, Hannah I think yeah to answer that question I’d probably like to yeah just get a bit of context to yeah my disability for my intro so yeah having a spinal cord injury I suffered that injury about four years ago just going down to four years so for the first year and a half I was pretty much hospitalised and you know learning to come to terms with the situation and just how to manage the disability and slowly started to return into community activities and like you said just navigating the world and also returning to work and I was easing into that I suppose over the first couple of years that I acquired my disability and I’d say Covid struck around that time and you know the last couple of years we’ve just been in constant yeah I’m in and out of lockdowns and there’s been a lot of disruption to that so I think the main impact it’s had is so obviously the massive and like deep impact it’s had on people’s lives over the last couple of years has been undeniably horrible however I think the silver linings for myself with a disability have been that with for example my work and my employment I’ve been able to actually sort of increase the amount of capacity that I had to contribute so I think looking into that it’s actually enabled me to build on the foundations that I’d set in terms of adjusting to life with a disability in terms of returning into the workforce and participating in that respect so I think that’s a really good silver lining to take out of Covid-19 it’s a sort of yeah reference that theme  but to move forward that would be fantastic.

[08:01 – 08:32] Hannah Diviney

I think yeah definitely Varun obviously you bring a unique perspective because you’re joining us from another country today and I wanted to ask you there was a kind of landmark Covid-19 disability survey in Canada and that found that of those surveyed 85% sorry 82% reported that the pandemic was negatively impacting their mental health can you speak to this from your experience if it’s not too personal to share?

[08:32 – 10:03] Varun Chandak

No not at all I think it’s safe to say that everybody experienced some level of mental health  challenges whether you classify that as a disability or not that’s beside the point  but if it was difficult on everybody for me though my i’m hard of hearing so I rely on hearing it in my right ear and live captioning but most importantly lip reading so from my  perspective the biggest impact of the disability was the use of masks because when I cannot lip  read I cannot understand I may have 40% hearing loss in my ears but my verbal recognition is about  10% to 20% in both ears which means that when somebody’s wearing a mask and I can’t lipread  the impact of that on my life is absolutely immaterial I just cannot communicate anymore  so I think a lot of it stemmed from that as well and that even if you go to a grocery store and you have to talk to somebody you can’t really do that so tech did help and I do  want to acknowledge that all things considered I got away with it relatively instead it was it  was tough at times it was at other times it was just an inconvenience maybe i’m done playing  it a little bit there but you know I think from me that was the biggest part of the experience

[10:05 – 10:41] Hannah Diviney

Did you find that you were relying on other people to help you communicate? Or like I’m not really across how bad the pandemic was in Canada were you guys in serious lockdown for an extended period of time.

[10:41 – 11:50] Varun Chandak

Yes, it was pretty strict here as well definitely a lot stricter than our neighbors out of the south of the border yes from what I hear from friends in Australia probably not as long as strict as the one in Australia but it was still a very extended period of complete lockdown where we were required to just only leave only for the most necessary items there was a period when things were sort of rationed and grocery stores and everything so to your question about communication absolutely I have no idea what I would have done if not from my wife oh I am endowed up relying on her so much for day-to-day communications for conversations I did rely on tech as well as I use an app called otter.ai which is a live captioning app it’s free and that was a game-changer for me in situations where I was by myself but it’s not perfect so whenever if I had the option my partner my wife she was I had no idea what I would have done without her to be honest.

[11:50 – 11:57] Hannah Diviney

yeah, so Julie obviously I’m curious for you as well what was your experience of Covid?

[11:57 – 13:55] Julie Duong

Yeah I have so many mixed feelings about what’s happened and it’s still happening so I’ll talk about that instead because you know post-Covid and it’s good to know what considerations there are for others moving forward. For myself i’m pretty anxious more than ever i’d have to say more than in 2020 when all of this happened and I think that stems so much from the expectation to return to normal for example state government NSW opening everything basically all at once and while that’s necessary I feel like there hasn’t been good consideration for how we retain some of that inclusion and elements of safety and I would say optimism for doing things differently than we actually had I think so many organisations are eager to get back into action in how things used to be without really understanding the impact that it’s had on individuals during Covid after Covid and so that expectation concerns me. An example is working from home you know all of a sudden everyone could do it and when that happened I was a little bit annoyed because suddenly it was okay everyone could do it they had the capability and resources for everyone who could work on a computer so now so before that it wasn’t a case of they couldn’t do it it was a case of they wouldn’t do it and it was just that it wasn’t acceptable as I would definitely yeah and now I think you know there’s that expectation that we’re going back to normal hard and fast and you know yeah sure they’re gonna let you work from home one to two days but there’s still that expectation that nine to five in the office again traveling one to two hours commuting spending money on transport which is actually quite expensive for some people with disability.

[13:55 – 14:45] Hannah Diviney

Of course yeah and I don’t think people have really realised the impact. As well that actually leads really well into our next question which is for Steve again so you mentioned earlier that you’ve done something a little different over the course of the pandemic to most people instead of decreasing your workload you’ve actually increased it shifting from part-time work to full-time work thanks to the accommodations that make your life easier like working from home remotely I’m just curious if you think the shift from part-time to full-time work has brought a shift about in the way people treat and react or respond to you personally and then more broadly like what shifts have you noticed if any in the attitudes towards people with disabilities over the course of the pandemic?

[14:45 – ] Steven Ralph

Yeah sure so exactly as you said Julie it’s sort of all of a sudden it’s normalised remote work and and like you’re saying it’s it’s brought about a massive change in terms of at least for me personally like I was able to increase that workload up to a full-time work week which is you know which was really what I was wanting to do and as I said earlier I was sort of building up to that just kind of working through all the logistics and things that had to come with part of living with spinal cord injury but yeah over time that was becoming more manageable and yeah it was kind of phasing into into looking at full-time work but yeah the remote work component has definitely helped shape I suppose my expectations for myself to be able to do that and hopefully as he’s saying Julie  like hopefully those benefits don’t disappear over the future you know like hopefully we can take these and show that look this has been proven this is how we can move forward and make it more inclusive like make the workplace and just the work the workforce in Australia more accessible because there hasn’t been much change in terms of like  disability participation in the workforce over the last 30 years or so so it’s really interesting to see that like all of a sudden it has opened those doors so I suppose from a perception point of view I think it shows that you know everybody deserves that level playing field to to work and to participate so I think if we can remember all the benefits that Covid has brought about  as well as forget the negatives that would be fantastic.

[16:28 – 16:44] Hannah Diviney

Varun I just wanted to find out a little bit more about how you feel like people with disabilities like what the attitude is in Canada and whether that’s changed over their pandemic whether you’ve seen any positive impact?

[16:44 – 18:32] Varun Chandak

Yes it’s very similar to what Julie and Steve said there’s positives and there’s negatives sometimes those positives are stemming from the fact that now everybody’s  going through the same thing to set a little bit of context I ran access to success and ATS Labs alongside a full-time professional job and that job in is in financial services sector  so in the time leading up to the pandemic I had been advocating to get access to any sort of a live captioning service which would make it easier for me to participate in conference calls that was a very long very very long discussion because you know i’m an investment I have access to a lot of sensitive information so there were concerns about where is this  transcription going so on and so forth and then the pandemic happens everybody is now working remotely all the conference calls now happen on Microsoft teams in my case and teams has a built-in live caption so suddenly nobody has any problem with live captions so it’s very similar to what Julie said that when it affects everybody’s sanity it’s very normalised you know and it’s a very small example but looking forward though the concern again just comes from the communication aspect because now we’re looking at a return to our office in January in my case  and now i’m trying to figure out what am I going to do if there’s a mass mandate in those in which case i’m trying to see if I can get an exception sort of an accessibility accommodation to  continue working from home almost full time for now so it’s going to be an interesting situation  about it’s what Steve said how does that what does that flexibility look like going forward.

[18:32 – 18:55] Hannah Diviney

Julie this all ties back to the founding well what led you to create the Empowering Solutions and the Diversity and Disability Alliance can you just quickly explain?

[18:55 – 20:37] Julie Duong

Empowering solutions that’s sort of my own little business where I consult with people on disability-related matters sort of my specialty is the culturally and linguistically diverse communities as well having that lived experience and working so closely with the community and I didn’t actually found Diversity and Disability Alliance but I do have the privilege of being its president. We are setting up peer support communities to get people with lived  experience from multicultural backgrounds to talk about their lived experience and value and respect that so people are really valuing what they have to contribute you know it’s expert knowledge why shouldn’t it be used and so going back to empowering solutions and it’s funny it’s all  sort of related to employment firstly you know as Steve mentioned people with disability are disproportionately unemployed you know and let’s not talk about how unemployment increases if you have a severe or profound disability type and I would be categorised at  that level because you know I don’t have use of my arms very much pretty much just a mouse and  I do need support every day of my life and I figured yeah that you know I was that figure  and statistics of unemployment so I had to do something for myself because you know really  nobody would give me the chance you know the person with a severe disability when they see  me a chance to work in an environment surrounded by people without disabilities or really people  without visible profound disabilities.

[20:37 – 21:27] Hannah Diviney

Yeah that whole idea of visibility is really quite loaded I think I should also mention to our wonderful audience that we do have the ability to have a q&a at the end of this panel so if you have any questions for our wonderful panelists please pop them in the q a box now I guess this is all the wonderful full circle discussion Varun the work you do with access to success is obviously all about the development of people with disabilities into leaders and that’s helped along by assistive tech so I’m curious what do you think the role of technology should be and what barriers do you?

[21:27 – 22:44] Varun Chandak

See it helping people with disabilities overcome as we move into this so-called post-Covid world  so again to set context access to success supports the development of future leaders  with disabilities and assistive technology we do that with two programs one is that  supports MBA students who identify as having disabilities through the access to success fellowship the other is ada slabs which is Canada’s first accelerator for accessibility mental health and agent tech startups so with that context I would say there’s two aspects in here one is the rule of tech and the other is the rule of everything else when it comes to tech and innovation I think it’s been proven over time that innovation is sort of a self feeding positive feedback loop where more innovation support for more innovation releases costs results and more access to the technology more visibilities more options so on and so forth now as long as in the case of disability all of this innovation is happening with people with  disabilities at the centre and in the lead I think all of that tech will make a real tangible impact  in how people with disabilities like myself for example in my ability to do my job as  I was talking about that example earlier of live captioning believe it or not it now sounds unusual  thought like captioning wasn’t very common just four years ago yeah because I was looking for it  in 2016 and 2017 and it was just starting out at the time so if the standard makeup had happened five years ago I would have to basically transition to sign language at that point  and while there’s obviously nothing wrong with that it would just be so much more difficult  for me to transition to that so quickly so can enable people like me to do our jobs better better  employment opportunities better productivity better quality of life in our own personal lives the other piece though is everything else I don’t and this is coming from somebody who runs  a program to support tech tech is not the end-all be-all there’s a lot.

[22:44 – 23:44] Hannah Diviney

don’t tell us that Varun geez

[23:44 – 24:20] Varun Chandak

yeah I know I mean this is remarkable and doesn’t accelerate but like I said it’s coming from me and I run a similar program and I can say with confidence that tech is not the end of the all it cannot be the end all be all unless it’s the people who are centred so ultimately I think the efforts for inclusion of people with disabilities for flexible work solutions for continued inclusion in the workplace after the pandemic I think those efforts will need to continue for all of the second innovation to be even more meaningful.

[24:20 – 25:13] Hannah Diviney

yeah definitely you’re getting a lot of flack in the comments for those your feelings about tech there but I’m sure Pete and Kate will we’ll get over it okay now Julie the next question is for you for anyone who may not know you helped to support the city of Sydney inclusion panel that provides strategic expert and impartial advice to the city of Sydney it helps develop implement monitor and review the city’s policies strategies and plans to improve the inclusion of people with disability can you describe the importance of this type of panel throughout the covet experience and then obviously for Sydney we’re opening back up and heading into a post-Covid future?

[25:13 – 26:56] Julie Duong

I think it goes back to the concept of lived experience where those people  have gone through it they’re going through it they know what the community needs and wants and it’s valuable to organisations like the city of Sydney I think it should be seen as valuable  expert information and knowledge anywhere when and and you can really use it to improve service delivery products engagement and communication with people and even be like have an opportunity to be an ally and advocate so for example the panel obviously provides insight into  some of the impacts of Covid on the disability community as an ongoing basis and as just an example access to vaccinations that was an issue that was raised for people to go to places to get  vaccinated hospitals weren’t even accessible so you know the city of Sydney had a duty of care  and relationships to be able to advocate and see what’s happening in that space and organise you know additional different ways of doing things having this vital piece of information means that  you know we were able to put in other measures and that we don’t exclude anybody or really  impose additional challenges and right now I see in this post Covid  well that you know one we’ve got to keep the good things that we’ve achieved as discussed number two  make sure there’s no additional barriers that are being created and three having innovation and compassion to for things to be acceptable and accessible if we want that inclusive future

[26:56 – 27:42] Hannah Diviney

yeah definitely now if you can believe it we are actually coming to the end of our panel we’re going to have a q a quick session in a minute but the final question I have written down here is for Steve most of your experience of disability has been throughout the course of the pandemic you’ve come to really come into your own in the disabled experience throughout the pandemic so I’m curious that you would have a very specific idea of what needs to be improved for people with disabilities in a post-Covid world can you just quickly speak to that and explain it?

[27:42 – 28:50]  Steven Ralph

For sure thanks I think mainly for me it’s just about awareness just education of of disabilities in general  particularly in the workplace like I think yeah organisations and things like Remarkable for example like it’s a breath of fresh air to be in that experience and in that environment with the disability like I think people don’t treat you any differently  and I think that’s the main thing that i’ve noticed and I think we’ve covered I mean appearing on screen for most of my work life for the last two years it takes a  lot of that out as well because unless you disclose that you’re in a wheelchair would know right so that’s been a very unique experience for me too i’ve never had that before ever yeah it’s really odd actually yeah it’s it’s weird hey so I found that to be yeah really really  jarring I think like compared to how I would have been treated had I been in the office versus  meeting a client or meeting a colleague for the first time over Zoom or teams or whatever it  is yeah so I think that’s that’d be great to just change that perception I think we’re making some progress but we still have a very long way to go.

[28:50 – 29:22] Hannah Diviney

So now I’m gonna kind of do a quick whip around q&a we have some pre-submitted questions here and if our audience has any more pop them in the q&a box my first question I think I’m going to pose to Varun and it says what needs to happen to make accessible technologies available to everyone who needs them and this is from Laura accessible technology available to everyone who needs it?

[29:22 – 32:15] Varun Chandak

That’s a very that’s a very very big question let me go down maybe two or three points here that that immediately pop up to the top of my head one as I was saying people with disabilities need to be centred in this entire process whether it’s the creation of new technology  or the scaling of new technology because we’re the people who understand our needs the best I think i’m preaching to the choir here that’s that’s so that point is pretty obvious  the second is the need the subscribers sound a little bit self-serving but I think  the second is the need for support ecosystems for the actual development and scaling of  accessibility technology in Canada just to share a little bit of context about why i’m talking about  the need for that support ecosystem the kind of work that Remarkable has been doing over the years  in canada when we started talking about the idea of ATS labs the accelerator people in  the accessibility space would tell me that you’re not going to find enough startups in this space  who are you going to serve so since that point we actually did the market research and we identified  well over 100 startups that are currently active in Canada and are already in the market  with products so that pipeline exists they just have a lot of unique needs a lot of  lack of visibility a lack of spotlight that we are trying to address here with what we are doing at ATS lab so that support ecosystem through ATS labs through Remarkable through the inclusive innovation network of which both us and Remarkable are two of the co-founders these support ecosystems need to exist and grow for the startups to continue going as well  the last piece is the actual distribution part when it comes to that distribution it will have to be addressed in a localised manner there’s no one-size-fits-all because for example a very obvious example the distribution models the reimbursement models is different by each country so there’s no one-size-fits-all response here but if you’re  talking i’m not as familiar with Australia but in Canada it would have to be a platform a model that understands the local nuances here and then you sort of combine that with the access to low-cost assistive technology the combination of that white distribution acts  white distribution as well as access to low cost technology is the third pillar and what I  believe would be key to sort of a much much wider availability of assistive technology.

[32:15 -32:34] Hannah Diviney

yeah definitely this next question is from Abraham I feel like it’s pretty self-explanatory but we’ll give it to you Julie and he says do you think enough has been done to include and accommodate people with disabilities?

[32:34 – 33:18] Julie Duong

Simply no. I think that really you know no matter how many accommodations you put in there I think it really needs to start with people changing their attitudes and how they see people with disability or disabilities people you know not as some special thing that they have to do otherwise I think without changing that attitude and the culture I think that you’re really you know the supports that you do put in place are just sort of at best compliance something nice that you have to do for the disabled person so yeah there’s a lot more work to be done sure.

[33:18 – 33:51] Hannah Diviney

okay we’re now going to move into the q&a box this question is from Kylie she says I work in DEI for a large corporate one challenge is that people are often reluctant to identify how do you suggest we build trust so that people are able to identify and get the support I’m going to lob that question  over to Steve because I think he has a pretty unique perspective on that just now

[33:51 – 34:47] Steven Ralph

Yeah thanks for that one I feel as though yeah working in a space like that where you’ve got the opportunity to change the culture and like the inclusivity of an organisation yeah just to maybe even to contract out to somewhere like the Australian network on disability to do like a workplace adjustment assessment or a program like that just to put in place I suppose it just removes a lot of the barriers for entry for into the workforce people with disabilities just so everything is as standard like it kind of changes superficial practices of an organisation that is easy to implement but they have a big impact for people with disabilities that will interact and then engage with that organisation in a whole new way so I think that’s one way to look at that I’d say.

[34:47 – 34:53] Hannah Diviney

Julie, you have something you’d like to say

[34:53 – 35:37] Julie Duong

Just really quickly I did a little bit of research on this in the past with a large organisation myself and there are you know key things that really support disclosure and it’s really having a supportive manager again with that attitude the right attitude it’s also about having visible leadership and trusted pathways and actually providing the supports so when you go through that pathway a lot of times people go through the process and they get rejected or things aren’t put in place and then people talk people will tell stories and say don’t tell them that you’re you know this they knocked me back don’t you’re just gonna cause yeah yeah trouble for yourself.

[35:37 – 35:44] Hannah Diviney

This is a very topical question obviously Varun it’s it looks like you have something to say?

[35:44 – 36:22] Varun Chandak

I agree with everything but Julie said I just wanted to emphasize the representation aspect I have personal stories that I can share there but another interest of time I won’t go into it but essentially having senior leadership step up having members of senior leadership or even middle management step up and say hey identifiers having a disability you can have webinars you can have podcasts whatever platform prefers and encouraging them to share these stories publicly if they are comfortable of course gives a level of comfort and safety almost to those a little bit lower down the ladder that they’re not going to get discriminated against if they self-disclose

[36:22 – 37:32] Hannah Diviney

definitely, I think we all know how powerful visibility is and leadership in that area is crucial now there are two more questions here in our q&a box but I’m very conscious that we literally have less than 10 minutes until we’re supposed to wrap this up  so what I might do is if our panelists want to open the q a box I don’t know if any of you want  to type out a quick reply to either of these or we can save them and maybe get your response in  an email after the panel if that works for the people who have asked those questions the last question for all of our panelists that I wanted to make sure I asked today is kind of a  typical question that Remarkable Tech always asks and that is can you give us kind of one example of a remarkable insight that you have about this topic of like a post-Covid world?

[37:35 – 38:24]  Julie Duong

I’ll go first yeah so if you haven’t noticed already I’m really big on lived experience so get people with lived experience working in your business and I don’t mean in disability-specific roles or disability-related jobs I mean in meaningful roles as decision-makers strategists advisors technical and operational leads in the world you know across the world disabilities their friends’ families have control over a 13 trillion dollar annual disposable income and that’s a lot of money and really you’re doing a disservice if you’re not involving us as assets investors and human capital because there’s really nothing about us without us.

[38:24 – 38:52] Hannah Diviney

13 trillion is such a huge number! I  cannot wrap my head around that but the fact that we are worth that much and that we have that much potential to bring to the industry I wish I could show that to everybody who has any sort of kind of investment portfolio or anything like that what about you Steve let’s what’s your Remarkable sight?

[38:52 – 39:32]  Steven Ralph

My Remarkable insight would be just again to change that perception and attitude in the workforce of people with disabilities that you know exactly like he said Julie they’re not discriminated against for any reason and that yeah people in key roles in organisations can welcome and yeah can just sort of embrace people with disabilities in any role just because of the fact that they might be the best person for that role  I think that’ll be the most remarkable insight and hopefully all that remote work and flexible working agreements all stay in place and everybody can keep yeah participating and engaging in the same way that they’ve been able to.

[39:32 – 39:49] Hannah Diviney

definitely, can I just ask you a quick follow-up  question which is, have you and this might be

personal but have you disclosed your disability to all of your colleagues?

[39:49 – 40:26]  Steven Ralph

I actually haven’t no. I mean I most would have met me in person but there are a few that haven’t and a lot of people that have started as well since the pandemic so a lot of people haven’t yeah so I actually haven’t and I mean I feel like it’s you know it’s not really relevant to the job it’s not really relevant to of course the conversations we’re having at work so yeah sort of gone over my way to my ways to self-disclose to colleagues but yeah in no way you know am I yeah sort of trying to not disclose anything oh yeah it’s just if it’s relevant it’ll be you know it’ll be talked about if it’s not then it’s not us first.

[40:26 – 40:33] Hannah Diviney

yep okay so Varun you are lucky last what is your Remarkable insight on a post-Covid world?

[40:34 – 41:37]

A Remarkable insight is a very high bar for from my perspective it’s about what I think steve does to find that just about maintaining that flexibility that everybody learned about  during the pandemic I think it’s a key tenet of increasing design which is a foundational bedrock for everything that we do access to success so if you don’t want to learn anything about the increase of design that’s fine just I would highly highly recommend people to not forget that  that flexibility benefits everyone for working parents for single mothers for single parents  any kind of flexibility that people can build in when they plan out they return to work within our office back to personal life in-person events  that flexibility is just so so important there’s just tons and tons of examples where that  flexibility will benefit people with disabilities as well as everyone else so that’s the one sort of take away if not inside that I would encourage everyone to keep in mind

[41:37- ] Hannah Diviney

thank you for that but the time has absolutely flown and we are actually at the end of our panel discussion for today so I just wanted to run through a few quick endnotes here and say a huge thank you to our wonderful Auslan interpreter Therese Lewis and of course a huge thank you to each of our incredible panelists Steven Ralph, Varun Chandak and Julie Duong. I’m also told that I need to tell you that Remarkable recently launched a fellowship program called the Jessica King Fellowship which is aimed at providing pathways for people with disabilities to explore the world of entrepreneurship and startups it involves six months of mentoring a five thousand dollar donation to your learning with we love financial support  and support to explore goals in this space applications are currently open right now  and we are excited to be extending our application deadline to 11:59 Sunday the 5th of December  that is this Sunday guys so if you want to get an application in I would do that as soon as you can  if you are interested or know someone who might be please head to the website www.remarkable.org.au and look for the Jessica King Fellowship on the front page now as we always do here at remarkable  tech we will be seeking your feedback so we can provide more remarkable insights so please after  this panel is over take the time to complete the survey and as was said at the beginning this recording will be made available on the Remarkable Tech youtube channel subscribe if you haven’t done so already because you don’t want to miss any of these recordings I’ve been your moderator Hannah Diviney I have CP I’m a writer and disability advocate and it has been my pleasure to host this discussion happy international day of people with disabilities. Okay bye.

Mentions made:

[8:01] COVID-19 Disability Survey, Abilities Centre

[24:20] Inclusion (Disability) Advisory Panel, City of Sydney

[33:51] Australian Network on Disability workplace adjustment 

[37:35] People with disability create over $13 trillion in disposable income every year

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