Category: Disability Confident, disability, blog, Disability Awareness, Disability Inclusion, disability support
Maria Grazia Zedda, EDI Manager at High Speed Two, was announced as one of the most influential people with a disability in the UK at a reception at the House of Lords yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 8 October).
The Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100 is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. Nearly 200 nominations were received for the 100 places. The Disability Power List 100 is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash OBE.
Maria Grazia Zedda is an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager at High Speed Two Ltd (HS2) railway and founder of e-learning company called Wideaware Ltd. Severely deaf, Maria uses lip-reading, hearing aids and online captioning at meetings.
Maria, originally from Italy, moved to the UK aged 19. After completing a vocational course, she worked at the BBC’s Disability Programmes Unit. She left the BBC to achieve a degree in sociology and work as employment manager, supporting disabled candidates get jobs in corporate sectors in the UK, US and Italy.
Facing barriers in finding employment as a mother with a disability, Maria decided to retrain as an access auditor, setting up her company when she was nine months pregnant with her second child. Through Wideaware Ltd, she provided training and e-learning on disability equality to thousands of people, including 640 MPs and Lords at Houses of Parliament. Other clients included Network Rail, RDG, OFCOM, Southwark, Fareham and Hounslow Councils, the London Eye and Aquarium, Somerset House and South West Trains. Maria also worked with Serco Caledonian Sleeper, The Shaw Trust, Westfield Stratford City, Office of Disability Issues (ODI), Edinburgh Airport, Ofcom, RDG, First Great Western, Olswang, and The British Library. She audited accessible design for all Virgin Train’s East Coast train stations and the new Caledonian Sleeper train being built in Spain.
Passionate about grassroots inclusion, Maria co-founded a cooperative of disabled women called Sisters of Frida and was Vice-Chair of the Disability Forum at London 2012. She became National Winner of the ‘Ready To Start’ Disabled Entrepreneur Award in 2009, three-times winner of UnLtd's Millennium Awards for Social Entrepreneurs and won a top 10 London Barclays' Trading Places Award 2010.
As EDI manager for HS2, Maria works to ensure High Speed Two recruits and retains people inclusively with policies that account for a diverse workforce.
Maria, said: “Always question limitations that others put on you - help yourself and others understand and address these barriers.”
The full Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100 can be found on www.disabilitypower100.com.
To find out more about High Speed Two as inclusive employers please click here.