Why is access to work such a complicated and sole destroying process?
This week I have had to appeal yet again (the second time since June) against a decision made by the wonderful government run scheme Access to work. I have asked for 2.5 days of specialist training with our new database that will be coming soon to Southampton Sight. I must have the training so that I can use the database with my screen reader “JAWS”
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about-your lucky on this occasion. ATW is a scheme that is supposed to be there to help people who have a disability while there in employment with the extra cost of equipment, training, support and travel that is needed to enable you to carry out your job successfully. What they don’t tell you about is the amount of hoops you have to jump through to be approved. As I have an ongoing claim with ATW I called them to ask for the specialist training with the new database, we are being provided with training but as I am blind understandably it will take me longer to learn how to use the system with my screen reader.
The process went through its usual wheels in the motion, including me providing the name of the database, who was providing the training and of course how much it was going to cost. Here comes the fun part, I receive an email from the lady who is looking at my case- they denied my application. Great, now another appeal; just what I need, like a hole in the head!
When I appealed last time (when I broke my finger and was denied travel to get to and from work in a taxi-you cannot walk around using a white cane in the hand that is taped together to help mend your broken finger, believe me I tried) the CEO of Southampton Sight Jackie helped me, I’m not saying that she hasn’t helped me again but it is good for me to learn to stand up for myself. I don’t understand why you have to even appeal against something that is supposed to help not hinder you. A couple of shocking figures for you, 1:10 blind people are in employment and 1:4 people who have a visual impairment are in employment. I believe that this is wrong that these figures are so low in todays modern society. The government should be helping to remove the barriers in to employment for people with disabilities- we have aspirations to work just as much as the next person. Not many employers would be as tolerant as Southampton Sight.
After a considerable time writing and re-writing an appeal letter regarding my reasonable request I am awaiting a response and feeling frustrated and discriminated against. What I want most of all is the ability to do my job and be on an equal playing field as my colleagues.
Whilst writing this blog I said the following which made my colleague laugh, “if access to work was a goalball, and I was on court I would definitely score a goal against the opposition.”
I will update you with my progress, I will not give up at the first attempt-I don’t like being told no.