Organizations are at their best when they welcome, respect and include people of all backgrounds, including people with disabilities. At FHI 360, we prioritize disability inclusion and are continuously working to strengthen our practices and culture. But we know our work is not — and will never be — done.

Habtamu Buli (“Buli”) is a disability inclusion technical officer at FHI 360. Below, Buli, who is Deaf, has a conversation with his supervisor of five years, Senior Technical Advisor, Gender, Equity and Social Inclusion Elise Young, who is hearing, about how organizations can better support staff with disabilities.

ELISE: Why did you pursue a career in international development and disability inclusion? 

BULI: Growing up in rural Ethiopia, I saw international development workers in my area, many working on crisis response. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know what was possible, being Deaf.

Later, at Addis Ababa University, I witnessed and experienced discrimination. People with disabilities couldn’t access classrooms. There were few Deaf students like me, and we did not have access to interpreters during classes. 

That’s when I became an advocate for disability rights in education and employment. First, I served as President of the National Deaf Association of Ethiopia. Next, I pursued a master’s in international development at Gallaudet University [a university for Deaf and hard of hearing people], specializing in the intersection of gender and disability. I thought that a career in global development would help me address rights issues on a global scale.    

Read the full article about inclusive workplaces by Habtamu Bulion and Elise Young, at degrees.