Don't treat us as 'special' employees

Dont treat us as special employees
Students with disabilities play basketball at the AccessAbilities Expo 2016 in Dubai on Tuesday. The 3-day event concludes on Thursday

Dubai - Wheelchair-bound Dubai's Dewa employee says disability employment is a must as it gives stability.

By Kelly Clarke

Published: Tue 9 Feb 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Feb 2016, 9:15 PM

Haifa Al Hadad spent nine months searching for a job, with little luck.
When one employer finally said yes to her application, the Emirati thought her luck had finally changed. But after just two months with the company she quit the position.
"I was completely under-appreciated and under-used," she tells Khaleej Times. Haifa may be wheelchair-bound but she says she can - and does - work just as hard as everyone else, though this quality was overlooked by her previous employer."My boss basically told me I was employed because I was referred to them by a well-known disabled programme here. He made me feel insignificant and I was not happy there."Since then, however, her work situation changed for the better.
For the past one and a half years, Haifa has been working as an Events Administrator for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).
The role requires her to "innovate and create" and at last, she says, her hard work is finally being appreciated."Dewa supports me, and they treat me like an equal employee, not an employee with special needs."For Haifa, disability employment is a must. She says it gives stability to an individual as well as confidence. "My message to those who are afraid to leave their home because they have a disability would be 'go out and work. Go and face the world and don't hold back'."
And for employers hesitant to employ a person with disabilities, two things are key, she says. "Be patient and expect from us what you expect from others."Dewa now supports more than 200 families of people with disabilities. Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Access Abilities Expo in Dubai, Specialist-CSR at Dewa, Taha Al Hamri said their support network is two-fold. "We support people with disabilities in the workplace and we also support employees who have children or relatives with disabilities."
Since launching its sponsorship and scholarship programmes for People With Disabilities (PWD) in 2007, it now partners with 27 entities working within this sector to champion disability employment.
It has also donated more than Dh21 million to these various special needs centres based on their needs.
"These people have to be treated as equals. They have to come on time, do the work that is required of them and commit to deadlines. They are not treated as 'special' and they do not want to be treated as such," Al Hamri said.
Haifa is determined, committed, and passionate attitude is a great asset to any employee, and in many ways, Al Hamri said she acts as the perfect role model to other employees - not just to people with disabilities.
Currently, 16 Dewa centres have been retrofitted to accommodate people with disabilities. By 2021, it aims to make all its centres disabled-friendly.

Haifa with Taha Al Hamri. Dewa supports employees with disablities, and employees who have relatives with disabilities. Photo by Dhes Handumon
Haifa with Taha Al Hamri. Dewa supports employees with disablities, and employees who have relatives with disabilities. Photo by Dhes Handumon

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