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Beyond Labels: Ayaka's Journey of Empowerment and Inclusion

Ayaka S. | Field Trainer | Tokyo, Japan

Originally Published: October 9th, 2023

Challenging Perceptions: Living Beyond Labels of Disability

I live with intellectual impairments, ADHD, and developmental challenges even though they are not readily apparent. Despite these challenges, I attended conventional schools and worked part-time jobs, earning a promotion, and taking on a leadership role. Before joining Dell Technologies, I encountered supervisors who questioned by abilities and considerations but knew with additional effort and time, I could perform just as well as anyone else.

In 2021, I embarked on a new journey by joining Dell Technologies Japan as a trainee in their program designed for individuals with disabilities. This program offered a year of business and communication skills training for individuals who lacked work experience or had faced extended periods of unemployment.

Before joining Dell, I would encounter questions during interviews revealing my intellectual disability. Regardless of how well the interviews went, this often resulted in rejection. I came to realize that I was often reduced to a label– seen only as a person with disabilities.

However, the selection process at Dell Technologies was refreshingly different. At Dell, I felt like they genuinely saw me for who I am.

Now, two years have passed since I joined Dell. The more I work, the more I feel seen and recognized as an individual, without the weight of the label "person with disabilities." People at Dell don't treat my disabilities as something special or deserving of pity. Instead, I receive honest feedback on areas where I can improve. I can be myself and aspire to grow and receive what I need.

My Turning Point: Feedback from a Trainer

As my program neared its end, I realized I wanted to be a trainer, and my trainer at the time advised me to improve my communication skills. I took this advice to heart and made a revelation during a communication training exercise where we recorded meetings. It allowed us to objectively assess our own communication styles. As we paused the video and carefully analyzed everybody’s word, I became acutely aware of the distinct characteristics of my communication for the very first time. It turns out that my way of speaking could be perceived as intimidating!

Following this revelation, and driven by my innate curiosity, I immersed myself in the study of communication. Adjusting my communication style not only improved my professional life but my personal life as well. People around me began to smile a lot! A friend even commented, "You've become more approachable." I couldn't believe how much I had transformed from my previous self.

Receiving Support for Better Performance 

Ayaka training fellow team members.

In 2022, I successfully overcame my communication challenges and became a trainer. Working alongside the program lead, I trained and supported seven members, and we plan to welcome new members next year.

By using alternative questioning techniques and encouraging individuals with disabilities to actively seek assistance, we can bridge the gap and create a more inclusive and supportive environment.

Learn more life at Dell Technologies by visiting our stories.

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