Can a blind or partially sighted person be employed? Can they have a desirable career? Can they work in jobs they’re absolutely passionate about? The answer is yes to ALL!
As a severely sight impaired person, when I applied for the position of activities co-ordinator everything inside me lit up because I knew I was the right person for the role. The job combined both of my passions; supporting vision impaired people and organising events, activities and meetings to improve social inclusion for VI people. So when I received the phone call that I got the job, I literally cried. I was thrilled, proud and happy. Then it dawned on me- “Oh my god, I’ve got a job! How will I manage? I know I can do it, but how?”
I was told about a government scheme called Access to Work (ATW). The scheme assesses you in regards to the support you require to carry out your job. Once my support was in place I was able to settle into my new role. I was also eligible for a support worker for sighted assistance.
The ideal support worker should be able to empower you to carry out your role professionally. Instead of talking on your behalf, support workers should introduce you and take you to the person you need to speak to. Moreover, they must understand your role so they can relay information to you that may be essential for you to carry out your duties. In my case, when carrying out risk assessments for activities and outings, my support worker would highlight certain risk factors that I will ask them to look out for. And they would also inform me of possible hazards which I cannot physically see myself. Having the right support worker gives me the extra help I need to carry out my role to the best of my ability.
If you’re passionate about getting in to a specific career then don’t let your vision impairment hold you back. Support is out there to help you every step of the way. After being unemployed for 10 years, I thought I’d never work again, but the support from Martin Sigworth at Thomas Pocklington’s Employment Service helped me to prepare for my interview.
To conclude, here at East London Vision over half the team are registered blind or have a visual impairment, and most of us have a support worker. Unfortunately, I recently had to say goodbye to Shivani, who was an excellent support worker. However, on the positive side, I’m on the hunt for someone new to work alongside myself and ELVis CEO Masuma Ali. To find out more about this role, please email Bhavini@eastlondonvision.org.uk
Written by Bhavini Makwana