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“Focus on what you want to achieve” - My Take by Software Engineer Jeevan Manoj

28 year old Jeevan Manoj, who hails from Kerala was born with Osteognesis Imperfecta. He is moved to Bengaluru five years back and is working as a Software Engineer with Microsoft Company. Jeevan is also doing his bit of disability rights activism to promote inclusion and accessibility.

I was born with a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta where my bones break very easily. I remember the many fractures I used to have during childhood. I started using a wheelchair because I couldn't walk.

I completed my schooling from an inclusive school in Kerala and since it belonged to my relative, things were easier for me. In fact, the infrastructure was quite poor. But they still adjusted for me. My friends and classmates were very supportive. There were days when they have helped me get to science labs because it was inaccessible. I further went on to complete my Engineering in Computer Science before moving to Bengaluru from my home town Kollam.

There are over 20 million people with disabilities in India. But many people do not have a support system and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have that. All my life, I have received emotional and financial support due to which I have not faced any hassles or difficulties-Jeevan Manoj.

Journey to successful career

I always wanted to become independent in life. That is why I took a decision of moving to Bengaluru alone even though I knew that I had to face many obstacles. I started off with the company MindTree and Information Technology became my career. Now, I work with Microsoft. Landing a job here was like dream come true.

All the companies that I have worked for were inclusive. If they had any accessibility issues, they used to introduce them for me. I guess many companies do not hire people with disabilities because they do not have the infrastructure to hire wheelchair users and other disabilities. In fact, MindTree is amazing because they have many people with disabilities working there. Most importantly, the attitude of my seniors and colleagues were great and I was comfortable working there. In fact, my disability has never affected my work.

My mother was pursuing her Ph.D when I was born, but she quit her career to stay with me full time. My parents and brother are my strongest pillars of support. So whatever I have achieved in life is because of them. They also made sure that I get the best education and facilities. I'am truly lucky.

Stepping into disability rights activism

I don't think I have done too many things in the disability space. But I try and make a difference in whichever small way I can. I was part of a venture called One Step at a Time run by amputee Hema. But they are not very active now with their projects. It was an inclusive dance venture. I want to work towards creating inclusive spaces at my company Microsoft where I'am working as a software engineer.

I'am going to be a part of Uber's inclusive summit. They had started an inclusive cab facility and I was one amongst the first people to use it. So I was featured in its video ad.

Jeevanulla Swapnangal, a Malayalam documentary was based on my life and it was directed by Ritwik Baiju.

I don't believe in the saying 'nothing is impossible'. Not everything is possible for everyone. For instance, I can't go for a marathon run. But I don't want to waste my energy thinking what I cannot do. Know where you stand and focus on what you want to achieve.

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