Rendez-Vous Avec Daryl

Name: Daryl Yao

Role: I am a graduate research assistant under the supervision of Dr. Delphine Labbé. We are working on the Active Transportation Policy Analysis and the Access to Fly project.

1) Where are you from, and where did you study?   
I am originally from the tiny island of Cebu, Philippines. It is pretty well known for its beautiful beaches and marine life. In August 2021, I moved to the United States of America to pursue my PhD in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

2) What motivates you to make the world more accessible? 
My cousin (who has a disability) and the many clients with disabilities I had during my time working as an occupational therapist serve as my primary motivation to make the world more accessible. Communities are just not built for them. I recall the feeling of not being able to do much for them as a clinician to get them back to work and be part of their community. No matter what intervention we do, there is just no opportunity for them unless they can move like their nondisabled peers. I want that to change because the issue isn’t their impairment but the society that excludes them. Thus, I want to make society more inclusive and accessible.

3) In simple language, describe your research project/the project in which you are collaborating.   

For my PhD dissertation, I will be examining the disability rights policies in the Philippines and their role in shaping the lived experiences of Filipinos with disabilities. So, I will be conducting a policy review to see what provisions are out there and then interview people with disabilities to see if they think their rights are being met.

As for the Active transportation policy analysis, we collected policies related to public transportation access. We examined what provisions these policies have, who are the target population, and what is being left out.

Finally, for the Access to Fly project, it consists of three phases. We are currently in phase 1, wherein we reviewed existing literature discussing the air travel experience for people with disabilities.  At present, we are preparing for phase 2, wherein we will be interviewing air travelers with disabilities regarding their air travel experience and airline personnel on their experience serving travelers with disabilities to create training recommendations to improve services.

4) What are your hidden talent and your greatest quality?  

I don’t know if it’s a hidden talent, but I make good dad jokes (subjectively speaking. Lol.). Well, at least it was good enough to make my partner giggle. As for my greatest quality, I think it is my passion for discovering and learning new things. I guess this is why I am pursuing a PhD. Moreover, I intentionally chose the field of studies and programs that are non-existent in the Philippines because I know those are the areas where I have much to learn from.

5) What is the best way to make yourself smile?   

Food! Good food always makes me smile. It’s even better if it is free food!

6) What do you like to do during your hobbies?   

In my free time, I would prefer to stay home. I enjoy playing video games and board games. From time to time, I also like to learn how to cook/bake a new dish.

7) What place in the world do you dream of visiting?   

I have already visited my dream destination, Japan. I studied for my masters there. Growing up, I was a big fan of anime and manga, so I just had to see Japan! I would never tire of visiting Japan (although I don’t see myself migrating and living there long-term).

8) Which book you have read or movie you have watched that has inspired/marked you the most? 

A movie that inspired me is a Bollywood film entitled “Like Stars on Earth (Every Child is Special).” This was released in the year 2007. I was still in secondary education, and I recall how we had this film-showing event in school. I was amazed at how the teacher invented new ways of teaching to accommodate the needs of a child with dyslexia. For me, this was the very first film that focused on the issue of disability and accessibility. This movie made me aware of how many children with disabilities are bullied and labeled as incompetent merely because society fails to understand their experiences and accommodate their needs.

 8) If you could have dinner with a known researcher/scientist/clinician/person who would it be and why?

I wouldn’t dream huge. I just want to have dinner with University of British Columbia’s Karen Whaley Hammell. Her work has been very impactful to me during my formative years as an occupational therapist. Her work on maintaining a healthy skepticism to occupational therapy inspired me to honestly think and question things that are often taken as hard truths. This has also prompted me to aspire to be an academic.