For Vol. 32 we have interviewed social entrepreneur Caroline Casey. Thanks for the favorable messages we received from readers, such as “Your heartfelt and strong message helped me feel hopeful about living.”
In this special edition we share some more of the interview, which was not included in the magazine.
―What did you learn while working at a global consulting company?
I learned that business is really important to achieve equality for people with disabilities. Since then, for 20 years I have wanted to bring to life ideas like The Valuable 500.
When I said I would launch the Valuable 500, the idea seemed impractical to many of those around me. But in two weeks I made a logo and a plan and started working toward it.
―So you waited for the right time to do it. And after you decided to start, things progressed really fast.
People have always tried to stop me from doing things. But I ignore them and try to move forward. Now most people know they can’t stop me and they gave up trying.
―How positive. At a seminar in Japan, I heard you say, “When I left the company and traveled in India, I could be myself much more than before.” It was an incredible idea to travel India with an elephant.
That was an adventure. First, it was hard for women to ride on elephants in India. Traditionally, in India the elephant handlers are all men. Second, for me as an Irish woman with ocular albinism to travel 1000 kilometers across India on an elephant in 48 degrees heat was really hard.
But that was my dream. I was with the elephant every day, I loved cleaning the elephant’s chest and washing it and sleeping beside it on the road. I mean, it was really rough but I loved it, I was very happy and it still has a special place in my heart now.
―The Valuable 500 started in January 2019. And your old company joined it right from the start, right? Do you feel the company has changed a lot over the 20 years?
In 2000, I was the only disabled person working there. Now, globally they have 3000. And what this shows us is that as businesses have more people with disabilities working for them, so the chances for people with disabilities to live a more equal life are improved.
―That is a huge change over 20 years. My old company also joined the Valuable 500. I hope the movement leads to companies including my old company accepting and including people with disabilities more.
Our movement is just beginning. But the more people like you who do things like write, the more companies will hire people with disabilities.
―What do you want people around you to do to help people with disabilities discover their talents?
It’s about getting rid of the barriers and finding something that interests you. I would like people to give good advice to that person about what they can and cannot be good at. Even now, people with visual impairments often try to work giving massage or as transcribers, but not everyone with a visual impairment can work on massage or transcription. It is the same story that not all autistic people must become a computer programmer. Some blind people do not make good massage or transcription workers, and some autistic people do not fit as programmers.
In such cases, you should not feel sorry for them because they are disabled. Give them advice on how to do something else. Respect them as a person.
This writer was inspired to hear about people with disabilities fighting for positive change in the world. What they struggle with is quite similar to what we struggle with in Japan, even though the cultural background is different. Barrier free heart is a global trend. This writer feels that the people of Japan should try not to get left behind.
Thanks to Caroline, Carys Miller (The Valuable 500 Marketing) who came to Japan to support Caroline, Yasunobu Ishii (The Nippon Foundation), Emi Aizawa (Accessibility consulting company Mirairo) who helped prepare for the interview, and Yukio Nozawa and Masahiro Fujimoto of The Blind Writers LLC who wrote the interview record on the document.
Written by Yu Hase