Karl Matthias Schäfer - That's how he rolls

Equal employment opportunities for everybody – if only. Karl Matthias Schäfer would be really happy about it if employers would no longer care whether somebody has a disability or not. What the blind chief executive officer thinks about politics concerning people with disabilities and how he feels about diving and sledge dogs, he tells us on REHACARE.com.


Photo: Karl Matthias Schäfer; © private

Karl Matthias Schäfer; © private

Name: Karl Matthias Schäfer
City: Dieburg, Germany
Occupation: CEO Dialogmuseum gGmbH
Impairment: Blind since birth
More about Karl Matthias Schäfer (only in German) at: www.blindien.wordpress.com
When did you last laugh heartily and what about?

Karl Matthias Schäfer: Some day ago when I put some sun cream instead of toothpaste von my toothbrush. That was disgusting. I always thought something like this would never happen to me.

What have you always been wanting to do and why have you never done this so far?

Karl Matthias Schäfer: I have always wanted to go diving. But actually I have a problem when water is above my nose. But I think I will try it in the near future.

Which person has influenced you most?

Karl Matthias Schäfer: Prof. Dr. Adrian Kniel, my professor at the University of Kassel. He was the one who influenced my way of thinking and who taught me that some things just need to be tried. You can choose a way even although you do not know where it will lead you.

You have the chance to become the German Federal Commissioner for the Disabled. What would you do first?

Karl Matthias Schäfer: I would start a huge campaign for professional inclusion. But it would also mean that the existing safety precautions for employees with disabilities need to be checked again. I would analyze which of these rules improve the job situation for people with disabilities and which ones hinder employers from hiring disabled people. I, as a blind CEO with about 20 years of experience in human resource management have a very special opinion about this. Not everything which is meant to protect us really does this indeed.
Photo: Karl Matthias Schäfer standing next to an elephant; © private

Karl Matthias Schäfer likes being on the go and he loves to travel; © private

Your life is made into a film: Who would represent you?

Karl Matthias Schäfer: I am not really into movies and actors. I think I would like to represent myself on my own.

I would like to be ...

Karl Matthias Schäfer: in Canada with sledge dogs. At night I would sleep between the dogs in a sleeping bag and I would like just to live with them.

Which questions would you like answered the most?

Karl Matthias Schäfer: Will our society ever be ready to accept diversity and to get rid of the fear and insecurity of everything that is different?

What I finally want to say...

Karl Matthias Schäfer: Sometimes you - as someone who campaigns for the rights of people with disabilities - get the feeling that nothing happens. That we are not making any progress. But when I look back on my past 25 years of being active, I can say: We've achieved a lot in this period of time. If many of us campaign and keep trying, we can achieve a whole lot more together. Go 4 more!