Caroline Casey has been recognized internationally for her pioneering and innovative approach to changing how society views people with disabilities.
Born with ocular albinism - a condition that made her legally blind - Casey hid her disability well into her 20s, until her eyesight deteriorated to such an extent that she had no choice but to reveal her condition to her employer. Leaving her post and embarking on a soul-searching journey, she rode 1,000 kilometers across India on an elephant named Kanchi to raise funds for Sight Savers. Returning to Dublin, she founded Kanchi, a nonprofit that aims to change the attitudes and behaviors towards people with disability by working with business leaders. She developed a set of best practices (based on ISO 9000 quality standards) for businesses to help them see "disabled" workers as assets as opposed to liabilities. Hundreds of companies have adopted the standards, changing their policies and attitudes.
In 2004, Casey started the O2 Ability Awards to recognize Irish businesses for their inclusion of people with disabilities, both as employees and customers. The initiative has received international praise and, in 2010, a parallel program was launched in Spain. The awards are now being rolled out internationally across five countries over the next five years.
Caroline Casey is invited around the world to speak on her leadership work at eminent events including the Global Competitiveness Forum, the Clinton Global Initiative, TED, and Davos. She became the first Irish person to be appointed a young global leader of the World Economic Forum. She is also an Ashoka fellow and received an honorary doctorate from National University Ireland. She currently sits on the boards of a number of media and charity organizations in Ireland.
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