Jonathan Mosen wins the Impact Award by Madelaine Empson
The annual Attitude Awards celebrate the disability community and their achievements. This year, Jonathan Mosen MNZM won the Impact Award for significantly impacting the lives of people with disabilities.
Mosen is currently the CEO of Workbridge and has been blind since birth. Listing his achievements would put me well over my wordcount, so to highlight just a few, he is the only person to have been both chair of the Blind Foundation and president of Blind Citizens, implemented a full rewrite of the Blind Foundation’s constitution to make board members accountable to blind people, and founded ACB Radio, a global internet radio network for the blind community.
While Mosen received the Impact Award at the Attitude Awards gala ceremony on the 2nd of December, at the time of our interview, he only knew he had been nominated. Tune in to TVNZ1 to see ceremony highlights on Sunday the 13th of December at 4pm.
Can you tell me a bit about Workbridge and what the organisation does?
Workbridge is a recruitment agency that specialises in working with disabled people who are seeking work. We spend a lot of time with employers too – essentially reassuring them that disabled people are hungry for opportunity.
In 2019 you were made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for your services to the blind community. What did this moment mean to you?
My wife is also blind, and she was going through the email with an assistant iPhone app that we use that reads mail to you. She suddenly said to me, just like the passing time of day, like the weather, ‘you’re getting the Queen’s Honour’. And I said, ‘what!’ It was very humbling and unexpected. My mother is now well into her 80s and was extremely moved that she lived to see it. I’ve got a lot to thank my parents for. I was a pretty precocious, rambunctious, unstoppable kid. They didn’t seek to say to me that because you’re blind you need to slow down and be careful. I think it’s important on those occasions to think how many other people in your life have facilitated the success that you have been fortunate enough to have.
Touching on the iPhone app you mentioned, what kind of impact has technology had on your life?
I can’t overstate the impact. I remember as a child, pestering my older siblings (I’m the youngest of five kids) to read the newspaper to me. Going into the bank as a student, and of course the tellers would assume that because you’re blind they had to speak more loudly, so they would say, ‘you’re $500 overdrawn Mr Mosen!’ Being able to read the news, do your banking, shop, email independently – it’s huge.
What would it mean to you if you won the Impact Award?
It might help younger disabled people who feel there are roadblocks in their way, perhaps barriers in terms of perceptions and expectations, to realise that it is possible to attain leadership roles and achieve their goals. I want to see more younger disabled people assuming leadership roles in the sector and essentially taking control of our own destiny.