Finding a job in Hong Kong has never been easy for Jack Liu. This is not because of his lack of qualifications or enthusiasm, but mostly because he has congenital cataracts, a condition that has impaired his vision in both eyes.
The Lingnan University business graduate, who also has a master's in social services from the University of Hong Kong, attributes his plight to potential employers' lack of understanding of his visual impairment and unwillingness to deal with or hire people with disabilities.
"I applied for so many jobs after graduation," Liu says. "I found a lot of discrimination, or you may say that potential bosses did not understand visual impairment."
It took Liu more than a year to find a job after finishing his master's degree, but he was let go within a month.
"My boss told me I was not suitable for the job anymore because I couldn't see," he recalls. "They scorned me and said I was blind, and it destroyed my confidence and hurt me a lot."
Liu says he struggled to find another job. "You lose confidence and you face discrimination again and again, so you can't perform in an interview. It's just a vicious cycle," he says.
Eventually, a placement by the Labour Department helped Liu to land his current role as a customer service and administration officer for a technology company. "During my probation, I showed my boss my passion and that I'm very hardworking. Despite my visual impairment, I wanted to learn and contribute. While [my] colleagues left work at 6pm every night, I would happily stay till 11pm."
Liu's dedication paid off, with his boss making sure that his office was kitted out with special equipment to help Liu do his job. On top of that, he received a 20 per cent pay rise.
"Ultimately, it's about finding the right employer in Hong Kong who will recognise your hard work and see that you are capable despite any disability," he says.