Job victory for disabled woman

July 4, 1997

A disabled woman has won her fight to become a temporary lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

A staff selection board which had cast doubt on her ability to cope with teaching has now backed down and approved her appointment to the department of applied intelligence systems.

Eva Maria Gil has had a severe disability since birth and is confined to a wheelchair. This did not prevent her from gaining a first-class degree in computer systems engineering at the university last year. After some part-time teaching, her head of department, Jose Gabriel Zato, put her name forward at the top of a shortlist for a part-time temporary lecturer's post. The selection board called for experts to report on her ability to communicate with students.

"They thought I couldn't communicate properly and asked for a medical report," Ms Gil said. "But no one else was asked to provide one." She described her treatment as "totally discriminatory".

Several of Ms Gil's students spoke out in her favour . Finally, the board withdrew its demands for a medical evaluation and gave her the job. Ironically, the classes she is due to teach are on user interfaces, the systems which enable people to communicate with machines.

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