My condition is such that it often alters very little over time, so on a daily basis I may not notice any difference from the day or week before. But when I go to do something that I did some time ago, that it when I notice it.
This recognition that something has changed, often hits me like a smack in the mouth!
When I started working for my employer in 2011 I had been using my home computer and work computer on a much lower level. By this I mean that in my previous role my work was split up between dealing with clients, the computer and general office work.
The new position was all computer based and telephone connection with clients. No more face to face contact. Isolating yes, but this meant that I could work from home in the evenings after the homework was done.
Working from full spreadsheets I started to notice problems, through a scheme ran by the government called ‘access to work’ I was able to apply for a grant for adaptions to my computer, this included zoom text software to magnify the screen and allow me to move around the page with ease, this worked well.
But like all companies, the software and processes that they used changed. I moved from a spreadsheet to an up to the minute online calling system, all the information was there in front of me, the computer also did an automatic dial to the client.
The new system was a struggle.
I work very well with order and sequence, with the new system this wasn’t always the case depending on the needs of the client. This was not a design fault of the system the company used. It was an issue I had due to my sight loss. The programme was very simplistic and easy to use, were you able to see it all on one screen, which with the magnification, I couldn’t.
Work were more than happy to offer support and to aid me with my work I was able to work at a reduced rate without financially missing out while I went through a transition phase working with the new system.
It was in this period that I began to struggle personally with my sight loss and its implications, as a person who has a very strong work ethic I felt that I was letting myself and the company down.
It took months to actually admit this, during which time I struggled on. It was at my breaking point in June 2012 that I admitted my struggles to my doctor, who was very kind, understanding and started to work with me to get the help and support that I required.
I also contacted my employers accessibility team and explained my issues, they made an assessment and felt that moving away from magnification and moving to a screen reading technology would be better for me. So back to ATW I went with my report and all of my needs, including a brailliant (a computerised braille reader) I was able to start on the road to doing my job in a different, new and exciting way.
In theory anyway……..
Because of the way in which screen readers read a page on the computer and the layout of the software used, the two were not compatible. An issue that was not of great concern for me as I was to move back to working with the spreadsheets, a preference of mine. They included more data so that I was not disadvantaged over my colleagues.
But I broke.
I have been using a Mac for a long time and using the built in accessibility and with the help of my voice Lily, I have got on very well with it when I have needed it.
Having some useable sight I struggled to let go of that completely and with that I developed an eye strain that had a great affect on my levels of concentration for which I need to take eye drops on almost an hourly basis if I am using the computer or even watching tv or a film.
In October I took the step to visit my doctor again and explain these issues, she felt that it was important for me to understand my depression and how to deal with this and in turn my altering eye condition. So she made an alteration to medications and put me forward for counselling. Oh, and she signed me ‘unfit to work’
Having undertaken many changes in my life, some positive, some not so I attended a final stage sickness review with my employer, and on Monday my contract with them was terminated on medical grounds.
I had always hoped to return to work, but this position was one, that even with assistive technology and support I would not be capable of, not through lack of knowledge or an imcompetance, just through circumstance.
This I think is a decision and understanding I had come to by myself long before the meeting, after all to get to stage three, I had been through stages 1 and 2, an in-depth report from my own doctor and an independent medical assessment.
It is heartbreaking to say goodbye to this job, today was the final ending as my ,ine manager collected all 6 boxes of computers, technologies and the hub that they had installed on the start of my employment.
This equipment has been boxed up for a few months to save it from the kids and dust, but the space it has left caused a tear or two.
I see this a defeat, I HATE to fail, to let people down. To let myself down. It is always hard for anyone to walk away from something when it is not working. But hopefully this is one stress crossed of the list and will enable me to move forward.
Wish me luck.