Every year on the first day of school, Joaquin Ortiz’s high school principal would offer words of encouragement to incoming freshmen by describing the rhinoceros—a strong and resilient animal that uses its horn to break through obstacles, no matter how difficult.
Years later, that same principal was offering new students a different role model: A deaf student named Joaquin who had graduated with honors, “breaking barriers and demonstrating that anything is possible.”
No excuses, no limitations
Joaquin’s strong-willed determination has served him well in his career at Accenture, where being deaf has never held him back. Indeed, it has contributed to his innate talent to innovate, solve complex challenges and adapt to the world around him.
“I want to demonstrate to the world that deaf people can do anything they want. There are no excuses or limitations,” he says. “There are deaf lawyers, doctors, engineers and on and on.”
Joaquin grew up in Puerto Rico with a single mother, three older sisters and two doting grandparents. He loved technology, always fiddling with the mechanics of his VCR, Walkman and TV. When his mom bought him his first computer, he disassembled it, analyzed every circuit board and put it back together.
“It worked fine!” he laughs.
From NASA internship to a career at Accenture
At Puerto Rico’s Polytechnic University, Joaquin received a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s in manufacturing engineering. The highlight of his college tenure was a summer internship at NASA, where he learned in detail about communication between space and ground satellites.
Joaquin’s current role at Accenture involves making websites accessible to persons with disabilities—a project that enables millions of people to access important information.
“Accenture is a very inclusive company, and they supported me from day one,” Joaquin says. He notes how the company provided a sign language interpreter during his job interview.
Accenture provided Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) to assist with training after he accepted the job offer, Joaquin says. In his daily work, Joaquin communicates with his team using VRS–Video Relay System for meetings or making phone calls. “It allows me to contact the interpreter through a software application from my computer,” he explains.
Accenture’s commitment to employing, enabling, engaging and empowering persons with disabilities aligns with its own new research called “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.” The report finds that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting persons with disabilities in their workforces have outperformed their peers.
Looking ahead to a promising future, Joaquin harbors even higher ambitions, including becoming CEO of a company and launching high-tech schools for the deaf.
“I am determined to help other deaf people to find a job, and opportunity and equal treatment,” he says.
Read more about Joaquin’s story.
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