Blind programmer: We can prove our worth

  • The blind have two qualities important to the workplace – resourcefulness and focus
  • The adjustments organizations make would be well worth the effort

Blind programmer: We can prove our worthWHY should companies hire people who are blind? Rhea Althea Guntalilib (pic), a blind computer programmer working at Smart Communications, said it is understandable for organizations to have apprehensions about employing the visually impaired.
“It’s not easy to hire blind people. When you have a blind person on your team, you have to make big adjustments,” she said.
“But companies have to realize that we can prove we’re worth the extra effort. They must see that we value our work more than the average person does because it is so difficult for us to land a job,” Guntalilib said during a career forum for the visually impaired, held in Quezon City.
She added that people who are blind possess two qualities that are important in the workplace – resourcefulness and the ability to focus.
“We have learned to become resourceful because we often struggle over things as simple as eating and going to the bathroom.,” said Guntalilib, who lost her sight at age 18 due to a retinal disease.
“We also do not get distracted easily. Even if someone makes funny faces in front of me, I will not get distracted because I cannot see him,” she added.
Rhoda Santos, Guntalilib’s manager at Smart, said the 24-year-old computer science graduate seems determined to do her job well, and as independently as possible.
Smart hired Guntalilib last May after a series of interviews and a practical exam.
“When I learned that a blind person wanted to join my team, the question in my mind was not ‘Why should I hire her?’ but ‘Why shouldn’t I?’,” Santos said.
“I value the opportunity that Smart gave me -- that’s why I work hard. Not only did they give me a chance, they also exerted an effort to make my experience as smooth as possible. They provided special computer software for the blind and even conducted sensitivity training for my teammates,” Guntalilib said.
“Smart is one of the very few Philippine companies that hire the visually impaired,” said Raymond Reyes, president of Visionaries, one of the groups that organized the career forum.
Visionaries helps people with visual impairment find employment in companies like call centers and insurance firms.
“When we meet people like Rhea who work in a prestigious company like Smart, we become more optimistic and hardworking,” Reyes said.
Guntalilib advised the visually impaired not to lose hope that they would find a good job.
“Let’s not think that people who can see would automatically discriminate against us. Smart made me realize that we should not judge society. If we want them to give us a chance to get a job, we should also give them a chance to prove they are not prejudiced toward us,” she said.

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