Dr. Rakesh Babu Receives Diversity and Inclusion Award

By Holly Herring • Aug 12, 2021

Blog Content

Rakesh Babu, Envision’s Lead Accessibility Scientist and first blind person to receive a PhD in information technologies, was honored at the Wichita Business Journal’s 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Awards. His mother and several colleagues helped him celebrate his well-deserved award.
 
“Building an inclusive workplace isn’t just about hiring people with disabilities. It’s about developing long-term strategies, systems and support to create an environment where people with disabilities can succeed. 
 
Organizations committed to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business are known to perform significantly better than others. While such organizations are increasingly considering persons of diverse racial/ethnic background, gender identity, age range, and sexual orientation in their hiring calculus, people with disabilities do not always garner the same level of attention. One in four U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – have a disability that impacts major life activities.
 
If workplaces were more accessible to people with disabilities, organizations could be better prepared to address the ongoing labor gaps we are currently facing; and help be a part of the solution in filling the needs for skilled high-tech workers. Accessibility refers to the extent to which something is perceivable, operable, and understandable despite a sensory/motor/cognitive impairment. Workplace accessibility is a highly under-studied area and thus, employers do not know how to effectively employ PWD.
 
As a person who is visually impaired, my career goal and passion are to help organizations attain their diversity and inclusion objectives as this relates to individuals who are blind or visually impaired (BVI). My personal insights of working with blindness, as well as 16 years of research experience in accessibility and BVI individuals, positions me well for this task. At Envision, as the Lead Accessibility Scientist, I have the perfect environment to work towards these goals. I have conducted a series of studies to develop a scientific process to detect, diagnose and remediate accessibility pain points in different work environments. This is useful for organizations who would like to know how well they are set up to effectively employ someone who is BVI, and how to remove potential impediments in this regard. 
 
Through the William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center at Envision, we examine all aspects of a prospective employee’s engagement with your organization, from the physical to the digital environments. We can help evaluate your job postings, application and interview processes, onboarding procedures, workstations, systems and software, and even your physical facility.
 
Our accessibility experts provide a unique perspective emerging from a combination of personal insights and research experience on BVI accessibility. By using assistive technology every day, they can provide a first-hand account of how someone using this technology interacts with your organization. The Envision team is presently working with several businesses in and around Wichita interested in diversifying their workforce with qualified jobseekers who are BVI.”