Sadaf Khan Answers the Challenge

By Laura Deck, posted on

Education, family, technology, and a spirit of persistence are key to human resource professional’s success

Sadaf Khan has accomplished so much in her 27 years. A resident of Mumbai, India, she has embarked on a successful career as a human resources professional for one of the top global professional services providers. She is responsible for the talent acquisition process from sourcing and interviewing candidates to conducting negotiations and hiring in the financial risk management and cyber security domains.

An outline of India is on the left and a photo of Sadaf Khan is on the right with the Bookshare logo underneath.

Sadaf Never Gave Up

Her journey to career success, however, was filled with obstacles. At age three, complications during cataract surgery left her completely blind. Her parents tried various treatments to get her sight back, but nothing worked. From an early age, Sadaf attended integrated schools that encouraged her to interact with the larger community. “This experience really helped me assimilate once I reached college,” she explained.

At age nine, Sadaf was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and was bedridden for one year, after which her condition improved to the point where she could walk only with support. She was diligent about her schoolwork and gained permission to study from home and go to school for exams. Her parents did their best to support her, especially her father who read to her and dictated notes which she typed in braille while her mother took care of her other needs. “My father encouraged me to be independent and walk with a cane, even though I lacked confidence because of my arthritis,” she says.

“Once you are passionate, nothing is out of your reach. Just because you are blind doesn’t mean you can’t take up science, for example. If you are ready to take the challenge, you can do it.” – Sadaf Khan

When Sadaf was 17, her father passed away. “Even though my mother went out of her way to help with my studies, I felt like giving up because it was too much to ask from her,” she said. “Fortunately, I discovered volunteer services from various nonprofit organizations that gave me hope that I could pursue higher education.” Volunteers – many of whom became friends – would dictate notes and she would write in braille. She also recorded lectures and converted the recordings to braille.

Persistence and Hard Work Yield Two College Degrees

Sadaf graduated in the top of her high school class and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology followed by a master’s degree in industrial psychology at Mithibai College of Arts. She used braille for most of her classwork and started using Bookshare in 2013 when she was studying literature. Bookshare is the world’s largest library of ebooks for people with reading barriers such as blindness, dyslexia, and cerebral palsy. She also received her first laptop which introduced her to the benefits of technology for communication, reading, and academics.

Now, as an HR professional and analyst, technology is an integral part of her day-to-day job. She uses JAWS (screen reader software) to access job-sourcing platforms and complete certificates in cyber security and other skills required for her day-to-day work. For pleasure reading, she uses Voice Dream Reader on her phone because it has expressive text-to-speech voices and a direct link to the vast Bookshare library. You can often find her reading thrillers and fantasy novels such as Harry Potter and the Twilight saga.

Career Goals Are Within Reach

What are Sadaf’s career goals? “I’d like to explore other areas of human resources such as training and development and performance management so I can get promoted into management-level roles,” she says. One way she’s honing her leadership skills is through her role as the youngest and first woman president of the Blind Graduates Forum of India. “I manage a team of twelve, and it has been a fruitful way of expanding my network and building technical skills that apply to my job,” she says.

While her mother is willing to help with transportation needs, Sadaf has chosen to become independent. “I am comfortable traveling anywhere in India independently,” she says. “I love exploring new places on my own and it increases my confidence.”

What advice does she have for others who are blind? “Never step back from learning something, even if you don’t think you need it,” she says. “Always be prepared for opportunities to upskill.” For Sadaf Khan, she is a rising star and the sky’s the limit.

About Bookshare in India

Benetech has been providing accessible books in India since 2008 with a powerful coalition of partners and a solid ecosystem serving over 20,000 Bookshare members with a collection of more than 650,000 English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, and Gujarati accessible books. The ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in India allowed many more books in the Bookshare collection to be available to Bookshare members in India. Additional funding enables us to bring even more books to more individuals with disabilities in India. Donate now.

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