Searching for work as a blind person
I’ve been blind since birth. I completed my education in a mixture of specialist and mainstream schools, eventually graduating from university with a degree in English Literature.
I regularly volunteered for charities, and mentored other people with sight loss, but despite my experience, I found it quite stressful searching for job after university. Lots of organisations invited me to interview, but I found most weren’t well equipped to accommodate a blind person in their recruitment processes.
My Co-op recruitment journey
I was happy when I saw a customer service apprenticeship role advertised with Co-op. The recruitment process was easy, as the interview was conducted virtually from my home. The interviewers asked which adjustments I needed to participate. I really appreciated the preparations they made - it took away much of the stress I’d felt in previous interviews. I was elated when I found out I’d been successful, and I began my first ever job in 2020.
Working together to make work accessible
To do my job to the best of my ability, I need some special equipment. Co-op ordered this through the Access to Work programme, but unfortunately, it was quite slow in arriving, so initially I had to rely on my support worker to help me do my job.
Fortunately, my manager worked hard to manage my induction with care and consideration. She introduced me to another blind colleague in the sales and service team, and together we discussed the different systems, tools and ways of working that would enable me to shine in my new role. My manager also worked with the learning and development team to make sure e-learning was accessible for me, and that I was able to use all the same dashboards as my sighted team-mates.
Reaching my potential in an inclusive team
I’m happy that I can now work more independently, and this has empowered me to be as successful as my sighted colleagues. I’m proud to say that I passed my apprenticeship in November 2021 and I’m now a full-time Customer Service Advisor.
My team and manager are so supportive, and my amazing support worker is always there to help me along the way. I really appreciate being in an inclusive team who I can work with to make sure team activities are accessible for everyone. I’m excited about my future at Co-op. I hope my story inspires other disabled people to persevere if they’re experiencing the same challenges I did when looking for work.