The author is the head of the Innovation Lab.
For the first time in 73 years, a person with a severe visual impairment passed the grade 5 civil exam. Kang Min-young is a senior majoring in education at Seoul National University (SNU). Unlike grade 7 and 9, there is no separate recruitment for impaired people for grade 5. Kang competed with nondisabled applicants and took the top spot in the education administration section.
If you google “Kang Min-young” and “school for the blind,” you can find Kang’s life. It shows how every life moment was a challenge and made the news.
She was diagnosed with a class 1 visual impairment when she was born. Her mother typed and made braille books for her. When she was studying with braille materials at Seoul School for the Blind, she participated as a child member at the National Assembly for Disabled Children, held at the legislature in 2007. She got an award by proposing the “Special Act to Subsidize Textbooks and Educational Braille and Recorded Books for Children with Blindness.” She studied with digital learning sites from the National Institute for Special Education and EBS braille textbooks, and she got into SNU on a special admission for balanced opportunity in 2015. SNU was the first national university to establish a support center for students with impairments to help their learning.
If people with impairments, like Kang, register for a civil service exam, the Ministry of Personnel Management provides appropriate support. People with visual impairments get tests in braille and get to submit answers in braille as well. The test time is also extended according to the severity of the impairment. After passing the exam, they will be provided with equipment such as a braille information terminal and printer as well as assistants for up to 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. Kang’s success is a personal victory but the result of a constant struggle and system atic improvement to eliminate discrimination.
In an interview with the Law Journal, Kang said, “I would like to be a civil servant who contributes to improve social diversity and openness educational equality.” The mandatory employment rate of people with impairments by national and local governments is 3.4 percent, while at the ministry of education it is only 1.97 percent, thelowest among all groups of public servants.
Discrimination still exists, as a whistleblower revealed that the Jinju National University of Education had rejected an applicant with severe disabilities by manipulating scores in the special education admissions. I hope Kang, the first visually impaired official, will be able to realize her long-cherished dream.