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  • Chris McMillan

Together we can make disability inclusion happen

ILO Voices

7th December 2023

Together we can make disability inclusion happen

By Güler Koca

When I was younger, I always felt I had to go into the unknown, sometimes alone. I had many fears because of this. Society has lower expectations from persons with disabilities, so to be noticed you need to be achieving greater things, otherwise no one considers you or thinks that you are able to do this or that.

That’s why I was so competitive, getting the best grades, running a marathon, doing two master’s degrees, travelling to many countries.

I am visually impaired. I have light perceptions and can see if it’s dark, sunny or cloudy, as well as shadows. But I can’t see much more than that.

I grew up in a Turkish family in France. I spent a lot of my childhood wanting to be like my brothers, to have my hair short, dress like them, climb trees and so on.

When I was younger, I could see a bit more and until my first year of primary school I was in a regular class, learning how to read and write like others. Like many kids with disabilities, my needs were not considered and since we spoke Turkish at home, I also had to adapt to a French-speaking environment. 

When I finished first grade, I was told, okay, great, now you must restart everything but in braille. So, I had to work twice as hard as the other kids, including learning how to use assistive devices, like screen readers.

As I approached adulthood, my big dream was to go to university and study law, which is what I did. It was very important for me to understand how the world worked, how the rules were made and why we can or cannot do certain things.

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