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Reaching New Heights

What Climbing Mount Everest Can Teach Us About Employment Accessibility

When 46-year-old Zhang Hong reached the top of Mount Everest on May 24, 2021, he became the first blind mountaineer in Asia to climb the world’s tallest peak. A rare and impressive feat, he joined American climber Erik Weihenmayer (2001) and Austrian climber Andy Holzer (2017) as the only three blind mountaineers in history to reach the summit.

What might be equally inspiring is listening to the motivation behind the man making the headlines. “There are now 450,000 people in China who go blind in the middle of their lives every year for various reasons. Like me, many of them will have a hard time adjusting to this new life,” Zhang said. “I hope that my story and my experience can influence more blind people and people with disabilities, so that they can come out, do what they want to do, open up society, and not be limited by many things.”

Support and Accessibility

His story serves as a beautiful illustration of the limitless possibilities that can be reached when accessibility and community support take center stage. Together, much like Zhang, people with disabilities can thrive—not just survive—when they have the proper planning, training, and resources. At IBVI, we greatly value increased access to opportunity for people with disabilities. It’s a key, motivating factor behind our national recruitment efforts and statewide employment awareness campaigns in Wisconsin. For us, it’s about raising awareness and making sure we do all that we can to break down barriers for both the sighted and the blind and visually impaired in our local communities.

Setting an Example for Others

At times, breaking barriers for individuals who are blind or visually impaired can feel like a difficult task to accomplish, but thankfully, we have examples like Zhang Hong to reference for inspiration. As he said in his interview with Reuters, it all starts with a change of thinking. “No matter if you’re disabled […] whether you have lost your eyesight or you have no legs or hands, it doesn’t matter as long as you have a strong mind, you can always complete a thing that other people say you can’t.”

For many, simply finding an open door can make all the difference in acquiring a new mindset, especially in realizing their own capabilities. That was the case for Jeff Young, Project Coordinator at IBVI Spaces. His story is an uplifting one, and proof that a little positivity goes a long way when it comes to helping others reach their full potential. When asked about his own personal growth and professional development gained at IBVI, he said, “I feel a lot more confident now describing what I can do than what I would’ve said before I started the job here.”
This kind of empowerment, independence, and determination is what we live for and hope to see embraced by both our employees and those in our surrounding communities. It’s what fuels the passion behind our mission to create gainful employment that brings new purpose to the lives we’re connected to, daily. Our employees inspire us with their pride, passion, and commitment to excellence. We want their stories to be told and their many successes to be celebrated.

If you’d like more information about partnering with IBVI, contact us here.



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