Shubhrajyoti Dey and Gourav Kumar were participants of our She++ program in March 2023, a 2-day professional development event aimed at providing underrepresented people an opportunity to learn from tech industry professionals. Following She++ they were both offered a place on our UberSTAR internship program during the summer of 2023 and are now returning to Uber as Software Engineering interns in summer 2024. They both have vision impairments.
“Uber fostered an environment where I am not defined by my condition but empowered to contribute equally,” said Shubh.
Gourav shared some advice for how to support people with disabilities “Sometimes people demonstrate excessive care towards us. While we appreciate support when necessary, it is essential to treat us as equals”
We sat down with Shubh and Gourav to learn about how they have navigated life (and work) with a vision impairment and what we can all do to better support people with disabilities.
Tell us about yourselves.
Shubh: “I’m currently in my fourth year of university and have always been inquisitive about technology. I feel really lucky to say that my passion has also become my profession. When I was born I was diagnosed with a disability in my eye called Nystagmus, where my eyeballs vibrate constantly which creates problems focusing and means that I have to zoom in significantly to read text. There is no cure for this but with time and medication it has improved somewhat.”
Gourav: “I’m also currently in my fourth year of university. I have a rare disease called Coats’ disease in my right eye which means that I have very low vision in that eye. I can hardly see and what I can see is very blurry and hazy. It’s caused by a malfunction of nerves that leads to blood clotting or liquid flowing on the retina which blocks the light that falls on the retina to form images. It wasn’t until a medical check up at school when I was 10 years old that my vision impairment was detected, although I had suffered from partial vision loss for a long time which worsened as I grew up. Once I was diagnosed, I had cryosurgery to prevent it from spreading to my other eye and further damaging my right eye.”
Can you share with us your experience navigating life with a vision impairment?
Shubh: “I used to wear an eye patch to school and sat right up front in class to be able to see the board clearly but even then I wasn’t able to actually see anything properly. I had to rely on whatever I was able to hear which is why I switched to digital media where I could zoom in on content and adjust the screen. I would go through all the lectures again using the recorded versions, so attending classes felt more like a formality. To be honest, I feel my disability is not ideal for the profession I have chosen because it requires me to read a lot of stuff, do coding and continuous screen time but here I am!” (young Shubh pictured left below)
Gourav: “I was always very anxious and nervous to make friends for fear of how they would react if they got to know about my disability. I would not say I was alone, but I separated myself from everyone at school. When my friends in college learned about my disability, I had shut myself down in the room, switched off my phone to avoid them but to my astonishment they reassured me that it is not a big deal and that I could have shared it with them. This in turn helped me in opening up to more people and helped me realize that people will understand. They never made me feel like I have a disability. They included me and showed care towards me in the right way–neither too much nor too little.” (young Gourav pictured below)
How would you describe the workplace culture and environment at Uber in terms of inclusivity and support for people with disabilities?
Shubh: “I felt at home at Uber. The level of inclusivity I have experienced surpasses anything I have observed elsewhere. I remember there was a session organised for managers and mentors addressing how they can effectively collaborate with individuals with disabilities. This left a lasting impression on me about Uber’s sensitivity. I was also provided with equipment such as a large monitor to mitigate eye strain. Uber fostered an environment where I am not defined by my condition but empowered to contribute equally.” (Shubh pictured below with colleagues in the Bangalore office)
Gourav: “I was treated exactly how I want to be. Nobody made me feel like I have a disability. My team made my whole experience really comfortable. I felt these are my people and I can talk to them about everything. During the She++ program, we weren’t treated any differently than every other participant. It wasn’t a situation where we were given extra attention because we have disabilities or that we were completely neglected.” (Gourav pictured below socialising with colleagues)
What advice would you like to give to other people with disabilities?
Shubh: “Everyone is unique. The struggles you face are truly your own. You don’t need to feel different if you are not aligned with the majority of the masses. You can achieve anything you want to with just a little bit of effort and dedication. Never doubt yourself that you cannot do something because I’m quite sure that there is nothing that a disability would restrict you to solve if you have the passion to do it.”
What advice would you like to give to those who want to support people with disabilities?
Gourav: “Sometimes people demonstrate excessive care towards us. While we appreciate support when necessary, it’s essential to treat us as equals and not constantly remind us of our disability or challenges. We are independent and capable individuals who prefer to be treated like anyone else. We don’t need excessive special attention; if we ever need it, we will ask for it.”
Want to find out more about how Uber supports people living with disabilities? Learn about Able at Uber →
Able at Uber is Uber’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) dedicated to supporting caregivers and employees living with disabilities and Uber’s goal of making transportation more accessible to everyone.
At Uber, we understand that people with disabilities may be concerned about how they’ll be treated in a professional environment. That’s why we’re focused on ensuring equal opportunity for people with disabilities considering joining Uber and increasing awareness for current employees living with disabilities and supporting those with disabilities.
Posted by Amy Harrison
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