“People with disabilities are experts at overcoming difficulties,” said the CEO of a US internet community for people with disabilities. “Because of their special life experience, it is often possible for them to provide a whole new perspective. This is also an advantage that those who are physically challenged can have over other employees.”
This CEO was born with cerebral palsy but since an early age was determined to be his own boss and do his best to challenge people’s stereotypes about people with disabilities. In Taiwan, there are many experts in overcoming difficulties who are determined to help the physically challenged believe in their own value and unleash their distinctive talents.
Two examples are Dialogue in the Dark’s (DiD) Dr. Pang-chun Hsieh and the creator of Man Fair Café, albino Dai-yao Sai, who are both using innovative business practices to transform the perception of the physically challenged as having a “disadvantage”. In addition, the founder of the Victory Potential Development Centre for the Disabled, Ying-shu Zhang, is not only living a wonderful life himself, but has helped people with disabilities all over Taiwan by creating more than 200 job opportunities and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of business opportunities.
Ying-shu Zhang is a polio patient who did not take any special education classes in childhood, instead going to a mainstream school for his whole education. After graduating from a degree in mathematics at Fu Jen Catholic University, Ying-shu Zhang worked briefly in the securities industry. Following this, he devoted himself to working at Pingtung Victory Christian Home and set up the Victory Potential Development Centre for the Disabled in 2000. Over the last twenty years, he has concerned himself with the issue of employment for people with disabilities.
“Employment” may be the longest course we take in our lives, normally lasting for many decades, and enough to change a person within and without. But in a society centred upon those who are able-bodied, probably the most difficult thing is not finding where the potential of the physically challenged lies, but instead how to build a friendly working environment that helps them overcome physical and mental constraints and play to their strengths.
The first business undertaking of the Victory Potential Development Centre was typing. When Ying-shu Zhang opened a training course to help people with disabilities learn how to type using the Cangjie input method, he was able to assist many people successfully find employment. However, the typing business gradually started facing losses due to software technology not being developed enough, a lack of market and other factors. Nevertheless, this expert at overcoming difficulties could not be defeated.
With the bold goal of serving corporate clients, Ying-shu Zhang started his data entry business inputting handwritten bank credit card and mobile phone data into computer files. When entering the high-end market, the level of service must also be high-end. For people with disabilities, competing on speed is not easy, but a reduction in the error rate can be achieved.
Therefore, Ying-shu Zhang broke the types of jobs down into very detailed tasks, developing a work division system with three people in each group. This saw a substantial increase in the typing accuracy rate of the disabled employees and gradually earned the loyalty of clients. Currently, the Victory Potential Data Entry Centre is the largest centre to which CTBC Bank outsources. Through his experience, Ying-shu Zhang has gradually developed an SOP that allows people with disabilities to work with convenience, and applied this to other Victory Potential business units.
Determined to never rely on external contributions and to help people with disabilities achieve economic self-reliance, every step that Victory Potential has taken over the last ten years has been enough to break stereotypes among the general public, from its development of business units for typing and data entry, to its current petrol station, handmade dessert, visual design and handmade glass art businesses.
“Just because no one has ever done it before does not mean people with disabilities can’t!” said Ying-shu Zhang. What new businesses will Victory Potential create in the future? This huge organisation with an annual revenue of more than NT $400 million really is one to watch.