On Tuesday April 28th the PDEEP team attended an event held in SJSU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Library titled “Disability at Work.” The event, sponsored by students in the Dis/Ability Communications 196Fclass, featured speakers from popular tech giant Google and from Expandabilty, an organization that acts as an employment agency for people with disabilities or “PwD’s”. For the PDEEP team this was an amazing opportunity to learn more about the ways in which we could incorporate accessibility for PwD’s into our partnership with Allama Iqbal Open University in Pakistan. Initiating the event attendees were greeted with an important fact that often times gets forgotten in our ever advancing and fast paced world: People with disabilities are the largest minority in America.
The first speaker, Victor Tsaran, is a Technical Program Manager at Google and focuses on making Google social products accessible for all, he himself being part of the community he is working for as a legally blind person. Victor shared his story about growing up in Ukraine, attending blind academic institutions and how he came to work for Silicon Valley legends Yahoo, Paypal, and now Google. Next the representatives from Expandability, a non profit organization based in the Silicon Valley gave an informational session about the services that they offer to PwD’s. Priscilla Azcueta serves as Managing Director for Expandability Staffing and Maria Nicolacoudis is the Executive Director of Expandability. Expandability works with the German software company SAP and the social innovator company Specialisterne using the characteristics of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder as competitive advantages in the business market. All in all, this event was very beneficial to PDEEP as it begins to enter into its last 4 months, and also gives rise to potential new projects focusing on usability and accessibility.