Isabella breaks down perceived barriers of blindness

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Isabella was submitting hundreds of job applications and getting nowhere before she made the decision to connect with EPIC. As a blind woman with a guide dog, Isabella believes she often represents ‘the great unknown’ to employers.

“There is definitely a stigma around hiring people with disabilities, particularly people who are blind,” says Isabella.

“Because so much of society and life is focused around sight and vision, I don’t think people can conceive how a person could live and function as a meaningful member of society without sight.”

“It’s that lack of understanding that means blind people are not considered,” she says.

EPIC was a welcome support in helping Isabella re-enter the workforce after a prolonged break.

“I had worked previously, but after study and a long break from the workforce, my hundreds of job applications were going nowhere,” says Isabella.

“Connecting with EPIC was a crucial step. They helped me prepare for interviews, helped look over my resume, and then introduced me to the HR person at Gold Coast University Hospital, where I was successful in finding work.”

Isabella completed a work placement in the governance, risk and commercial services department of the hospital for three months, two days per a week. After the placement ended, she was offered a graduate legal officer role.

She is grateful for EPIC’s assistance in opening doors that are progressing her career.

“Most employers put my application in the ‘too hard basket’ as an employee, mostly because I think they are scared of the unknown,” says Isabella.

“This was the foot in the door I needed; the chance that allowed me to show my employers I am just as capable as my sighted colleagues.”

Isabella is currently in her second year studying a Bachelor of Law. Her degree will complement her host of other qualifications including a Bachelor of Criminology, Diploma in Justice Administration, and Certificate II in Business.

While studying, she is enjoying part-time work as a program support officer in the Office of the Director General. A screen reader helps Isabella complete her work tasks.

“I require specialist software called a screen reader to be installed on a computer, or if it is an Apple device, the inbuilt screen reader needs to be turned on,” explains Isabella.

Isabella believes a lot can be gained from breaking down perceived barriers about what blind people can do.

“I feel that there is still a long way to go to educate the public about what blind people can do. Most people don’t know that a blind person interacts with technology just as much as everyone else, just through adaptive technology such as screen readers or magnifiers,” explains Isabella.

“I can still watch Netflix- I just use a screen reader to navigate the app and then audio description to follow the show.”

Isabella hopes the more comfortable people get around blind people, the more they will have the opportunity to compete equitably for jobs. She encourages other workplaces to give blind people an opportunity to prove themselves.

“I think the only way of breaking the stigma is getting more blind people in employment, in all kinds of different workplaces, to actually show employers what blind people are capable of.”