From where I stand: “Technology sees skills before gender and disability”

Casar Jacobson, a disability rights activist and a UN Women Youth Champion, shares her personal story of living with hearing disability and persevering to carve out a place in the world of work. She stresses on the power of technology in ensuring that no one is left behind.

Date: 06 April 2017

Casar Jacobson. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Casar Jacobson. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Quote

When you lose your hearing slowly, you don't know how much you're using it until one day you wake up without it. I didn't realize that I was missing 70 per cent of what was being said. It affected my education, my career and my relationships.

I was born hard of hearing and lost hearing in my right ear over a decade ago. Around five years back, I became completely deaf. I tried hearing aids, but they didn’t work so well. I taught myself to lip-read, but it’s not fool-proof. I remember once I was at a networking event and thought someone had asked me if I wanted a cappuccino. They came back with what looked like coca cola. I was confused and asked, "no cappuccino?" They said, " I asked you if you wanted a captain and coke." I'm not a drinker.

I have missed flights because I couldn’t hear the announcements at airports. It’s everyday things, big and small. People often tell me, “you don't look deaf".

Today, I call myself a “super connector”. I find individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and connect them to other networks and resources and help them start their own business. Being a Youth Champion has broadened my reach to connect with other women with disabilities and with entrepreneurs. I think technology can be part of the solution for women with disabilities. It can truly empower us, if we can access it. Technology sees skills before gender or disability. I am currently working with partners on non-invasive technology to restore hearing.

My biggest dream is that the world sees us as persons with a different form of communication, a different language, not a disability, so that someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing can grow up to pursue whatever [career] they want to.”


SDG 4: Quality education
SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

Casar Jacobson is a 31-year old disability rights activist from Canada and a UN Women Youth Champion. Recently, she participated at the Youth CSW61 in March 2017, where she talked about the importance for women with disability to access technology. Jacobson is currently working with partners on developing non-invasive technology to restore hearing. Her story is related to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5), which calls for empowering all women and girls, and targets the use of enabling technology to promote the empowerment of women. Casar’s role is also related to SDG 4 on inclusive and equitable education, as well as SDG 8, on access to full and productive employment for all; and SDG 10 on social, economic and political inclusion.

Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.