Founder of ‘The Quill’, wheelchair user Shakthi Vadakkeppat is a self-made man
Shakthi Vadakkepat is a techie and writer who owns the tech blog ‘The Quill’. He was raised in Chennai and currently lives with his family in Bengaluru. A wheelchair user, Shakthi who was working in the USA returned to his homeland many years back. In ‘My Take’ this week, he talks about his disability, ‘The Quill’ and all the lovely people around him who makes him grow stronger each day.
When I was around six years old, I took a vaccination overdose which led to high fever. I was unconscious for a week and both my right hand and leg started swelling up. After a point doctors told my parents that I was dead and they were gearing up to prepare my last rites. They returned back to the hospital and I was awake already, but my right hand and leg had completely stopped working. But my parents decided to take me home and give me nothing lesser than the best.
Preparing for the big wide world
The next challenge lied in pursuing my education. Many people had different opinions about me joining school. But I told my parents that I wanted to study. I had to crawl to school during early years.
One of the NGO’s arranged for a surgery for me so that I could sit up and slightly be more functional. I got calipers too. I could complete school. This was in the nineties, so there was no question of accessibility or inclusion when it came to education. I was always the topper in class, so other kids and teachers were fond of me. But the premises wasn’t accessible for me.
My calipers were made of steel and wearing them for a long time used to cause me excruciating pain and sometimes even bleeding since I had to wear them throughout the day. But my plan was to complete education at any cost.
I wanted to pursue engineering, but as usual, many people including some of my own family members pulled me back. But my parents let me do what my heart said.
They had a lot of faith in me. I got a seat in an engineering college at Salem and later completed masters from BITS Pilani. I met my better half Hema at college. We have been married for 22 years and we have an eighteen year old son.
I worked for a few multi-national companies before moving to the USA. Gradually, I realized that bringing up my son there was not a good idea and hence returned back to Bengaluru, but again a nine to five job was not my cup of tea. I decided to start something on my own. That is how the idea of starting ‘The Quill’ came to my mind.
Many companies were hesitant to have a disabled tech blogger because there is a lot of travelling involved in it.
“There were many questions. But I and my wife knew what we wanted. We travelled together and she was there to support me”.
A happy place, ‘The Quill’
‘The Quill’ is a tech blog that handles social media and digital marketing as well as social media consulting for brands. We started six years back.
Companies that hire us now ensure that places that we have to visit are accessible or otherwise made accessible. They do not make a huge thing out of it and I don’t need to even tell them that I’am a wheelchair user and hence need accessible spaces. They treat me like family. I have indeed been blessed to work with such wonderful companies and people.
I’am also a disability rights advocate and works closely with Indian Red Cross Society.
“Disability is a problem. It is like a stone lying on the road. So just leave it on the road and walk around it. For me, a disability is only a part of my life and not its entirety. But I also expect the society to be inclusive and accessible”.
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