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Thursday, 08 January 2015 00:00

Job Interviews - My Access to Work

Written by  Molly Watt
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I always wanted to work, I'd never considered that getting something part time around my studies would be an issue because "I know my own capabilities" clearly few others understood or wanted to understand, at least that's how it felt.

Both my brothers had part time jobs in local supermarkets whilst doing their A levels, both are sighted and hearing and neither had a problem getting employment.

Neither particularly liked the job but it was pocket money and as my Dad always says "Good grounding" working with the public.

They were both employed to work at the checkout which meant sitting at an electronic till that scanned and did all the adding up, totalling and even told them how much change to give to the customer.

I know fully well I could have carried out that job with only minor modifications and a little consideration for myself and my guide dog but I was never given the chance.

I applied for job after job to be told, I'm sorry not hiring or my application just completely ignored.  I began to feel despondent and very negative about myself. 

My friends all had part time jobs and as a result they also worked during the school holidays and made new friends, once again my condition, although invisible isolated me from people, things and experiences.

The feeling of rejection as a teenager was very painful and although I wanted to just give up something inside told me not to.

Then just after my 18th Birthday the local pub had a new landlord and was looking for bar staff and after an interview of sorts he, knowing my condition decided to give me a chance, I was so excited and absolutely loved that job.

Fully aware of my disability and my guide dog the landlord was very accepting.  There were a few broken glasses and calamities but, I think on the whole all went ok until two things happened!

The first one was that winter came and the dark nights, the lighting in the pub became incredibly difficult but I enjoyed being in the pub, meeting people, being part of a team, it felt good to be out there doing it.

Then I went on holiday with my family and when I came back my job had gone!

Sorry no hours for you Molly, followed by no replies to my texts and that was that.

I was devastated and to this day do not know why I was ignored and rejected in this way.  It was painful and crushed my confidence and totally unprofessional an attitude.

It took me quite some time to get my confidence back and to start looking for part time work again but in the meantime I worked for my Dad when I could and always happy to carry our charity work to keep busy.

Then I was fortunate enough to learn of a job with a well known local retailer and to get an interview, I was delighted but so nervous as I knew my disability had to be explained and I also knew how few people understand Usher Syndrome. 

The common misconception that deafblind always means hear nothing and see nothing and the shock that I can speak too! I can also communicate with BSL and tactile signing but neither are my chosen method of communication, however, I learnt it to communicate with those who sign as a first language.

A long chat with my parents and friends made me feel better and up for the challenge.

I was very nervous on interview day and it didn't help that I arrived slightly late and the hotel receptionist didn't have a clue where the interviews were being held but after some discussion with a colleague directed me by saying and pointing "You go up there and round the corner and its a room down there" - I'm blind, I couldn't see where she was pointing and where is "there" anyway?

After asking for better instruction I got where I needed to be and in I went.

It was a group interview and I could sense people looking at me. 

Thankfully they were a friendly bunch and I was made to feel at ease.

The interview certainly made me think a lot, not just about my responses but to the responses of the others at the interview. 

I found myself feeling quite confident and able to be myself.

At the end of the interview I was quite sensitively asked about my disability and I have to honest I'd rather be asked and give an honest answer to any question than for others to assume.

I wasn't sure how the interview went but I decided positive or negative result this was a good experience for me as if nothing else I had made each of the people at the interview aware of Usher Syndrome and that has to be a good thing.

Being invited for a second interview was great for my confidence but this time I was nervous not just because I really wanted the job but that my guide dog and I had to negotiate London in the rush hour which is quite a challenge in itself.

I won't go into great detail about the interview except to say as nervous as I felt I was able to be myself and to explain myself, however I was very anxious about my journey home!

As a result I did leave the interview without staying to ask questions which I wasn't happy about, however, I did take the time to email my questions and explain my reason for not staying behind at the end.

I was offered the part time position, both myself and my guide dog feel very welcomed and accepted and I thoroughly enjoy the job.

I feel a valued member of staff, I just wish all companies were as open minded as this one.

Sadly there is too much ignorance of disability in the workplace and it needs to change.

Awareness and understanding is all it takes and we can do the rest.....

   

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