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Learning to thrive with my disability at Avanade

  • Posted on January 21, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Learning to thrive with my disability at Avanade

When I was a baby, I lost my hearing in both ears because of a combination of infections and medication. I am the only deaf person in my family, I am perlocution deaf, which means I became deaf before language acquisition. This made it very difficult for me to learn oral language since I was not able to hear my own voice in order to correct it, the volume, intonation, etc. Hearing aids didn’t help much because all the noise of the environment was mixed with the sound of my own voice, and it was impossible to discriminate sounds.

 

I began speech therapy to practice speaking, and I went to an integrated school more than an hour away from my house by public transportation. When I didn’t understand the teacher's explanations, I studied through the books and notes provided by my classmates, and I had tutorials to catch up. Though I passed the Spanish University Access Test, I didn’t go to university due to mental exhaustion from daily overwork, plus the fact that there wasn’t adequate adaption for the deaf. Instead, I went to higher vocational training where I obtained the professional title of higher technician, and I also obtained several official certificates from Microsoft.

 

After that I worked a few jobs, first in a neighborhood shop, setting up and repairing computers and servers, and then for an NGO, which made me more familiar with accessibility issues. I wanted to continue to grow and improve professionally and started working as an intern at Accenture, and after a few months, I was hired by Avanade.

 

My first project was a client from an African country, and I had the opportunity to learn a lot, to demonstrate my professional and personal ability to overcome this huge challenge and also to improve my English. I can’t hear English, but I have good reading and writing skills, and my colleagues and clients have also adapted to me knowing my limitations. It was an extremely positive experience for my first project.

 

But there is always more work to be done in creating a culture for inclusiveness, especially for those with disabilities. To accomplish this, my recommendation is to ask people with disabilities what would make them adapt and feel more integrated. I don’t feel offended when people ask me this; my desire is to be useful professionally and to be well integrated into the team. In my case, I don’t find it difficult to communicate in Spanish, but I always prefer that others write to me by chat or by email because I’ll understand much better and avoid misunderstandings.

 

There are people who do not recognize their limitations. Maybe someone is losing their hearing or vision as they age or suffer from an illness, but when they are asked about it, they insist they understand and don’t need any special accommodations. But this approach harms their ability to integrate to their team. The first step is to recognize your limitations and to not feel insecure about them; everyone, in one way or another, has them.

 

At Avanade, we want to normalize these conversations around disability in the workplace. We’ve launched an internal campaign to raise awareness and create a safe space for employees to be open about their experiences so they can get the adjustments they require to do their best work. Being a part of this campaign has empowered me to reach out to other colleagues with disabilities to foster a more inclusive and disability confident workplace. Avanade is a place where we can all thrive.

charles dallimore

A truly insightful and inspirational story. Thank you Alberto for being courageous, open about your disability, your journey to overcome the challenges it has presented, and how we as allies and colleagues can help you, and others with similar challenges to be included and do your best work. 

March 24, 2021

Yolanda Corredera

Alberto very inspiring story of how you don´t have limitations, you can do anything. Thank you for sharing

March 2, 2021

Allison Brown

Alberto, thank you for sharing your story. My son has progressive hearing loss and went deaf two years ago at the start of middle school. The work you're doing to create a more educated and inclusive workplace is inspirational to him will benefit so many in the same situation, so thank you! 

February 10, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

I'm glad you like my blog, I continue to make the world a better place, I am just another person, so I like to do my bit as best I can. 

February 18, 2021

Airam Almeida

Hello Alberto, are you sure that every little victory within your journey is cause for personal satisfaction and this satisfaction has a tendency to overflow and reach others on your overcoming journey. Thanks for sharing some of your story with us. Success!

January 28, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Airam, I agree with you as my whole life has been a struggle to better myself.

January 28, 2021

Daniel Gutiérrez

Alberto, thank you for telling us your story. It will surely help many people understand and grow. I have collaborated with you on a project and I know what a good professional you are. Congratulations.

January 27, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Daniel for your comment, I hope to meet you again in the future.

January 28, 2021

Manuel Cardona

Thank you Alberto and congrats for this great article.

January 27, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Manuel, I';m glad you like it.

January 28, 2021

Charlie Zaragoza

Thank you Alberto. You are an inspiration and awesome example that everyone deserves a fair chance at whichever career path they choose. 

January 26, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Charlie, I'm glad you like it, I agree with you, everyone deserves a chance and I hope they take it.

January 28, 2021

Ralph Compton

Alberto, Thanks for this uplifting story about how you have conquered great difficulties. It is a great message that inspires me to be sure that I am more aware and inclusive of disabilities.

January 25, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Ralph, I am glad you are inspired by this message.

January 28, 2021

Katherine Kisovec

Great story and thanks for sharing!  I had had blind developer on my team in the past and I believe I learned more from him than he from me :)   It's the collective experiences that truly make a great team.

January 25, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Katherine, in a diverse team you learn a lot, you learn something from everyone.

January 28, 2021

Paul Rubin

Alberto - thank you so much for sharing your story, very inspirational... and could not have come at a more appropriate time.

January 25, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Paul for the comment, I am glad that my story motivates you and look to the future with optimism.

January 28, 2021

Jose Ramon Nieto

Alberto, thanks for your effort, shared talent, resilience and your continuous good mood at work. You are one of the best team workers at Avanade. And your testimonial is really unique and an example for all of us. 

January 25, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much José Ramón, for your comments, which help me to improve every day.

January 28, 2021

Javier Alvarez de Pedro

I had the opportunity to work with Alberto a couple of times and I have to say that his contribution was fundamental, both in the technical plane but also contributing to create a great working atmosphere. Keep the good work and looking forward to work together again!

January 24, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Javier, I also hope that we will work together again soon.

January 28, 2021

Fernando Pérez de la Rosa

It was an honor to work with you in your first project at Avanade. I remember very well that good times working together!!!

January 22, 2021

Alberto Fernandez

Thank you very much Fernando, it has been a very good time I will never forget, writing this article reminded me of that.

January 28, 2021

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