[OPINION] Rejection is the norm for PWDs, especially in the job market

People with disabilities (PWDs) are everywhere. Most are constrained in homes, while others are left with no choice but to beg in the streets.

Many of those who are home choose to be home, mainly because of the hassles of the daily commute. Let’s face it: Many establishments (even government facilities) are not PWD-friendly. And those living in the streets choose to ask for alms not because of their disability, but because they are not given opportunities to make a living.

I have a disability but I pretty much live a "normal" life in the sense that I can go around whenever I want to and do what others do. 

When I was 7 years old, I started to lose my sight. I first had blurry vision and was sent to different hospitals for diagnosis and treatments. Eventually, things worsened and I became completely blind. Doctors told me that retinal detachment caused my blindness. 

This may seem hard for others, but as far as I can remember, things weren’t as difficult for me then. I had time adjusting to the changes, given that I was still young when I had to deal with the transition. And an even better advantage for me was the fact that I have very supportive and loving family members and friends. 

I never missed school. I finished my primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Though there were a few challenges along the way, I somehow figured my way through it all. I finished Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from STI Recto in 2015. 

I thought finishing my degree would be my greatest ordeal, but I was wrong. Finding a job was and still is the most difficult thing. I know finding employment is a universal problem, but for us PWDs, it is our lifelong trial. (READ: PH still far from becoming PWD-inclusive, says UP study

After my college graduation, I was fortunately offered a job, but the company closed after 7 months since it couldn’t meet the demands of the competitive digital businesses. 

That was when I started my quest for a job. Job hunting in Manila isn’t supposed to be a problem for me given my qualifications, but because I am blind, I still have an obvious hurdle.

I have applied for more than 30 jobs around Metro Manila. –  all office-based jobs, so it meant going through a lot of excruciating commuting just to get to their locations. And while I would always pass the first and/or second screening, I would never bag the final screening. (READ: The number 1 thing employers want to hear about in a job interview)

As soon as I reach the face-to-face interview and they see my condition, I get lines like, “I’m sorry we could not give you the facilities you need" or “We are not PWD ready-yet" or “You are really good but we don’t know if we could accommodate you.” Over and over I’d hear these lines of rejection from one employer after another. I was rejected not once, not twice, but more than 30 times!

And the truth is, I don’t need any special facility! I have a laptop with a screen reader, and these are the only things I need for my job. They don’t have to restructure their whole building just to accommodate one blind employee. I understand that they are concerned for my welfare, but pitying me or being sorry won’t make any difference. I need a job! So why can’t they hire me if they know I’m qualified? (READ: #HustleEveryday: 5 things NOT to do when looking for a job while still employed)

Rejection after rejection lowered my self-esteem and sent me into depression, which I never had before. I never knew that being rejected from job applications could cause so much trauma and emotional pain. So, I stopped my daily routine trying to find employment on JobStreet. JobStreet should have the disclaimer, “PWDs are NOT allowed!” At least that way I would not hope at all, instead of being given false hopes just to have them killed along the way. 

When a friend told me to consider becoming a virtual professional, I was hesitant at first because I didn’t have any prior experience. But a year later, since I didn’t have any other options, I decided to join the training for it. There, I gained new friends and rebuilt myself. I learned the digital and communication skills I needed to be a good fit for many jobs online. 

Now I’m embarking again on another journey to find employment. I’m still waiting for the acceptance of my applications, but at least this time, I know I have better chances. (READ: #HustleEveryday: The 4 most common job interview questions)

I am crossing my fingers and sincerely praying that I won’t be rejected again. – Rappler.com

Billious Boquila is a bachelor whose passions are music and history. He is visually impaired but can see the world differently through technology.