Blog Biz | NDEAM
I’m so excited to share today’s post with you as it highlights a friend, blogger, and fellow advocate, Fatmatta Wurie. In addition, because this highlight was in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEMA) I felt it appropriate to close out October with this post.
Because of my advocacy work, I also wanted to give a shoutout to Deloitte for their continued dedication to the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I have a special place in my heart for Deloitte as this was the firm I worked for when I began losing my sight.
The following article is being republished here with Fatmatta’s approval. Enjoy! ~Steph
Practitioner Spotlight Fatmatta Wurie
Fatmatta Wurie is a Consultant based in the Rosslyn office, but as we told her on our Zoom call, she’s much more of an activist. She laughs at that. “I use my visual impairment as my fun fact!” Some people opine on backpacking through Europe. She continues, “It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about visual impairments, and ‘invisible disabilities’ more generally. I say that I see life through different eyes.”
That phrasing, seeing life through different eyes, is how Fatmatta describes her journey with vision loss and what has remained her mantra while connecting with people around the world with similar, yet unique, experiences.
Born and raised in the DMV area, Fatmatta’s vision loss has shaped her life journey and activism since her visual impairment diagnosis at 19 years of age. She has a rare form of macular degeneration, Stargardt Disease, and currently has no central vision in her right eye. After she was diagnosed, she spent the next six years going through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It was that final stage, acceptance of her diagnosis, that sparked a paradigm shift.
“Sharing my story on social media has helped other people come out about their disabilities and speak more to it.”
“What [else] can you do? There are people out there who need your help,” Fatmatta recalls telling herself. She created a blog. “Writing was [an] easier [way] to get my thoughts out. I knew if I wrote something, someone would come across it — and that is what happened. I would write what I was going through, what I was dealing with, and that’s how I started finding people who were…going through the same experiences.”
Fatmatta’s purpose in sharing her story is to give people the opportunity to put ability at the forefront. On her Instagram page, @maonoyachini (“low vision” in Swahili), she doesn’t want people to see blindness as a hurdle, or something that will hold them back, but something that is beautiful and can be used to connect with people. The page enlightens viewers on facts and statistics about accessibility and includes low vision resources like “5 Tips for Learning Braille” and where to buy stylish glasses. “Sharing my story on social media has helped other people come out about their disabilities and speak more to it,” she says. By sharing others’ journeys and experiences, Fatmatta hopes to increase awareness of disabilities, including “invisible” ones, noting, “If you don’t see me with a cane or a guide dog, you don’t know that I have a disability until I tell you.”
“If you don’t know someone with a disability or have someone on your team with a disability, you’re not thinking about accessibility.”
One of the reasons Fatmatta joined Deloitte was the opportunity to have her voice heard. “I fell in love with the culture,” she says. “I knew I could be put in situations and join Business Resource Groups where I could bring up accessibility and change peoples’ minds. If you don’t know someone with a disability or have someone on your team with a disability, you’re not thinking about accessibility.”
She offers an example of how her advocacy and activism plays out on her projects. “If someone is writing on a whiteboard, I have to remind them: ‘Certain colors are easier for me to see than others’ and ‘Can you write bigger?’” Those simple yet powerful reminders bring ability concerns to the forefront. How do we ensure that we are inclusive and accommodating within our engagement teams? Fatmatta says that asking colleagues or teammates what would make something easier or more accessible for them is a great start. “I am a disability advocate — people want to know more because of the platform I have created; I want to teach people about it.”
When we ask Fatmatta for a final piece of advice she would convey to our readers, we expect her to recommend the AbilityFirst BRG toolkit, or explain how we could all become better disability advocates. Of course, she believes in those things — and for more information, please reach out to AbilityFirst BRG . But Fatmatta makes it personal: “Go to your eye doctor every year — get your eyes checked!” We’re making our appointments today.
Please join us in following Fatmatta’s journey at @maonoyachini.
Connecting With Fatmatta:
- Header Image: The image shows Fatmatta sitting down with curly hair wearing a white jacket and white shirt in front of a blue wall with circle designs and a quote.
- The full-size header image is the same as the first bullet with the quote that says “Don’t change your dream change the world.”
- The image shows Fatmatta smiling while standing behind a yellow background and wearing a black turtleneck.