Accessibility Assessor: Screen Reader

Years with Shaw

Disability with a little background

I originally experienced sight loss in my left eye in 2009, when I was in my early 30’s. The vision just went, with no warning. It was found that my retina had detached. 9 months later, the retina in my right eye also suffered a detachment. After 10 or so operations, I was registered as Sight Impaired, with the main upshot being that I had to surrender my driving licence.
I experienced ongoing issues with my eyes, including Glaucoma, low pressure, retinal cysts and ongoing infections. This caused my vision to deteriorate further, until I was registered as Severely Sight Impaired in 2015. I now have no useable sight.

Previous work or background

Before I lost my sight, I had been a Post Office Manager for 6 years. I then started volunteering for RNIB, who helped me when I lost my sight. That eventually led to a part-time admin role with them, which then led on to an apprenticeship with Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) as a Housing Assistant.
As my interest was in technology, I then gained the Position of Digital Skills Officer with RNIB, which involved teaching people with sight loss to use the accessibility features of mobile devices. I was then an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer at Ayr hospital, where I offered emotional and practical support to people newly diagnosed with sight loss.
All my previous experience was invaluable when I became a Freelance Workplace Assessor for Access to Work in 2018, which involved travelling all over Scotland to assess people with sight loss, hearing loss and Dyslexia for Access to Work support. I had an unfortunate hiatus when the Coronavirus hit, but after a year, I gained the position of HI Assessor for Barry Bennet, which then led to my position with Shaw Trust.

Why are you proud to be part of the Accessibility Team?

Coming into such a diverse, experienced and motivated team has been a great experience for me. With our individual specialties all working in the same direction in making websites accessible for all, I feel we are a complete unit and complement each other very well. Having other screen reader users on the team allows us to bounce ideas off each other, and often have heated discussions on the best way to make sites accessible!

Why does accessibility matter?

Making accessible online content is in everybody’s best interests, both as consumers and service providers. If a website author excludes sections of their customer base, it will deter people from visiting their sight, which will affect their overall objective in setting up the site in the first place. If consumers are put off by a site not being accessible, they will go elsewhere, or contact the company’s site using more costly means for the company. With our knowledge of accessibility and some adjustments to the site, we can make websites that are accessible to all.

How do clients benefit from your input?

As the Accessibility Team offers a complete, all-encompassing service, the client can be certain that their site will be accessible when they put our recommendations in to effect. To me this isn’t just a job; it is something I actually enjoy doing, so the client knows they will always receive the best service from me.