Advancements in technology have dramatically changed the lives of individuals with disabilities, not only improving their independence, but also helping them accomplish tasks more efficiently. For Adil Sanai, technology gave him a voice.
Born in 14/G-D, Okara, Pakistan, Adil immigrated to the United States with his family in 1999. After spending more than 15 years of his life unable to stand, walk or even close his mouth, he underwent multiple surgeries to correct complications from cerebral palsy. “In Pakistan, my family carried me everywhere we went,” Adil shared through his Chat PC, a hand-held augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. “I was very determined to have a better life in the United States.”
After his surgeries, Adil worked hard to build up his strength by exercising in his neighborhood. It was there he met Munni, a program psychologist at AHRC New York City’s Joseph T. Weingold Center. AHRC NYC is a nonprofit organization, which offers services and supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in the five boroughs of New York City. After joining AHRC NYC, Adil’s team of staff members helped him get enrolled in the agency’s enhanced supported employment program (E-SEMP), which helps individuals with significant disabilities find work opportunities that match their skill sets and interests.
With the help of E-SEMP, Adil secured a part-time position as a merchandise floor associate at Marshalls, a department store chain. Using his Chat PC, Adil preprograms questions and responses to help him communicate with his supervisor, other associates and customers. Once he learns which section of the store he will be working in that day, Adil gets busy hanging clothes, making sure all of the items have tags, moving clothing that is in the wrong place to the correct location, and giving damaged goods to the supervisor. When he is not working at Marshalls, Adil participates in Adult Day Services and has a second job working in quality control at an AHRC-run business in Queens.
“It’s important to never stop looking for a job,” says Adil. He also stressed the importance of dressing professionally and being on time for interviews. Last year, Adil created a YouTube video to demonstrate how he used his Chat PC to interview for a job.
However, he says one of his proudest accomplishments was completing the five-mile Achilles International Hope & Possibility Race in June. “Competing in this race really represented all of my hard work the past few years,” says Adil.
In his free time, Adil goes to the mall, spends time playing on his computer and video chats with friends. His faith and family are also important parts of his life. He lives with his parents, two sisters and their spouses and one niece and nephew.