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RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau

Baksha Ali holding a white cane, smiling

Baksha Ali
Photo courtesy of Rick Guidotti, Positive Exposure 109

Baksha Ali (she, her) was a Community Outreach Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program (Spring 2020). Ali was born in Bangladesh. Her family moved to the United States when she was six years old because she was diagnosed with Retina Pigmentosa (RP). Ali attained her Associate’s degree in Business Administration in LaGuardia Community College in New York City in June 2017. Recently, she graduated from Queens College with her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. During summer 2019, she served as a Work Force Development Intern at VISION, a nonprofit organization that assists people with disabilities in attaining employment and finding alternative ways to live an independent life. Her role consisted of conducting online research and locating job fairs and networking events for a client case load of 30 job seekers with disabilities.

Ali is interested in working for nonprofit organizations that works with people with disabilities because she is passionate about helping others and plans to pursue her master’s degree in Vocational Counseling. During her Fellowship with RespectAbility, Ali identified more than 100 organizations nationwide that serve people who are low-vision and blind. They were then invited to two townhall-style virtual gatherings when COVID-19 first erupted to discuss their specific challenges due to the pandemic. As a co-facilitator with two board members who are blind, the first gathering gleaned that some people who are blind and users of SNAP (food stamps) cannot safely purchase food during the pandemic (online use was not permitted). This led to a Herculean, nationwide effort by RespectAbility’s team to secure the use of SNAP to safely purchase online food, for more than 11 million people with disabilities. In addition, Ali wrote a personal reflection published by RespectAbility during Women’s HERstory Month.

Ali’s passions include listening to audio books and 90’s music. Her all-time favorite book is Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling. She loves chocolate and spending time with her friends and family, meeting new people, and travel.

About RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau

RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau offers diverse speakers with disabilities to teach about disability inclusion; and/or to offer their expertise in an array of topics, ranging from Art and Entertainment to Entrepreneurship, Education, Finance, Law, Psychology, Religion (of many faiths) and every vocation in between. Our Speakers Bureau and its divisions are expanding. If this is of interest to you or you know a professional with a visible or nonvisible disability who might be interested, you (or she/he/they) can email Speakers@RespectAbility.org.

Meet the Author

Eric Ascher

Eric Ascher is the Communications Associate for RespectAbility. He is responsible for supporting RespectAbility’s Vice President, Communications in developing and implementing advocacy efforts and communications of various types. Ascher manages RespectAbility’s social media channels, website and emails; organizes and develops webinars; and supervises Communications Fellows.

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