IBA Karachi and ConnectHear host a career fair for differently abled students fostering accessibility and inclusivity

Pakistan (Muhammad Yasir)

The Office of Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (ODAI) under the umbrella of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi and ConnectHear jointly hosted a one-of-its-kind ‘ACCESS.ABILITY.CAREERS 2024’ at the IBA Main Campus. The career fair focused on supporting Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) or special needs and promoted inclusivity and accessibility on campus.

ConnectHear is a social enterprise led by aspiring youth working for sign language accessibility and deaf-inclusion in Pakistan.

IBA-ODAI aims to support and facilitate students with ongoing or temporary disabilities and special needs by providing services for learning and inclusion to enable academic and personal success. IBA-ODAI collaborated with ConnectHear as a community partner to host this event and is proud to have opened its doors for other university students to attend and benefit from.

Thirty-three organizations and seven hundred PWDs were invited to participate and were provided a platform to connect with potential employers and explore career opportunities in a supportive environment.

Several distinguished guests spoke about diversity and differently abled individuals, raised awareness about accessibility challenges faced in Pakistan, and emphasized on creating a more inclusive environment within the ecosystem.

Welcoming the audience, Co-Founder & CEO, ConnectHear, Azima Dhanjee; and Co-Founder & CTO, Arhum Ishtiaq; expressed their gratitude on the fruition of the successful fair. Mr. Ishtiaq shared that seven years ago, they embarked on a mission to make spaces accessible for everyone, regardless of their abilities. He opined that success for his team meant an abundance of inclusive hiring and onboarding because of this fair. He urged the audience to continue breaking down barriers and strive for a more inclusive future for everyone.

Former First Lady of Pakistan and Chief Guest, Samina Alvi, shared her thoughts on the work of ConnectHear and STEM Charter as an important social challenge for Pakistan. She commended it as a very good effort to improve empowerment and rightful inclusion of PWDs. She also shared that the biggest policy change brought and implemented is of 5% quota in private and public sectors for disabled persons.

Country Head of Human Resources, Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan, Muhammad Umar, presented the keynote, emphasizing that we must change our perspective on what we can and cannot do. “Today we are here to celebrate our abilities, not disabilities. To create an inclusive society, we need to ensure equal opportunities for everyone as every individual brings different skills and talents to the table. Organizations can and must play their role in building an infrastructure that ensures inclusivity for PWDs”, said Mr. Umar.

Dean Student Affairs IBA, Maheen Ghauri stated that the IBA has always facilitated students and staff who are differently abled. When ConnectHear approached IBA for this initiative, the Institute supported the idea wholeheartedly. She emphasized that every individual is diverse, and each has their own distinct abilities. She added

that it takes a village to create awareness and provide more opportunities. Today it is 400 people and tomorrow it could translate into millions.

The event also featured a panel discussion on ‘Jobs for People with Disabilities in Pakistan: What’s Happening Now’. 

Participants met with companies to discuss potential job opportunities and avenues for professional success. The event’s success highlights the commitment of ConnectHear and IBA Karachi to promote accessibility and inclusivity in Pakistan.