“Sometimes colleagues are surprised to learn that I’m medically deaf. Perhaps that’s because I’m always answering the phone to jobseekers…”
Sarah’s story is an important read, whether you’re a disabled jobseeker or a manager.
Sarah lives with otosclerosis – progressive hearing loss – and tinnitus, which she describes as hearing ‘permanent static…like a badly tuned radio.’ Deafness led to her abandoning an award-winning career in campaigning journalism in favour of supporting people with learning disabilities in Somerset into employment, a job she loved for a decade:
“The people we support into employment are often at rock bottom,” says Sarah, “They’ve had so many knockbacks. They have no confidence or belief. They want to work but don’t know how or where. As an employment adviser with a disability myself, I was able to offer that bit of empathy, of shared experience, which sometimes made all the difference.”
“I’ve come up against so many different prejudices over the years. But the right employer, the right manager and the right team will recognise that disability is simply a part of life, and with the right adjustments doesn’t have to be a barrier.”
Sarah’s conditions are getting worse, and following an NHS and Occupational Health reassessment over the summer Sarah concluded she needed to work from home – a difficult adjustment in a role that is all about supporting prospective employees and employers in their workplace. That’s why Sarah has recently moved into Dimensions’ resourcing team.
“I took advice from trusted colleagues,” recalls Sarah, “and I’m glad I did. My new team is so supportive of me. Even though it’s a high-pressure environment, people take the time to check in, find out how I am, explore what other adjustments could make things even better.”
Sarah shares a few tips for anybody applying for work or recruiting new staff: