A photograph of Bryan McGlashan sitting at a computerAt the age of eighteen, I was well underway to thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. My ultimate goal was to go to Music College, but I thought I needed a back-up plan. After school therefore, I went to Adam Smith College to study Social Sciences.

I was impressed with the understanding the College had towards visually impaired people. All of my college work was prepared for me well in advance of needing it.

I opted for a part-time route into further education so that I had time to fit in my other commitments, so I undertook an HNC over two years.

 

Whilst at college I was part of the Student Association, and took part in the National Union of Students National Conference.

After college it was time to venture out into the big bad world…! This is daunting for anyone but for a blind person the mountains to climb can feel much higher.

The main question that I’m sure is on any blind person’s lips is, “Do I tell the employers that I’m blind before the interview?” My advice in that situation would be to try and mention it on your application form, that way there is no surprises for anyone and when you successfully get through to the interview stage try to make contact with the employer to establish what will be expected of you at the interview. There would be nothing worse than turning up and realising that you can’t take part in the interview as there isn’t the aids there to enable you to take part e.g. adapted forms, computer systems etc.

I was on Job Seekers’ Allowance for at least a year before I got my first job. I had sent several applications and got the “you have been unsuccessful letter” in return.

My first job was a thirteen-week contract with Fife Society doing general administration work. After this contract was up it was back to applying for a job and trying to get even an interview.

I applied for a job with a call centre and to my delight got an interview. I had told them in advance that I am blind so that they were aware. I then turned up at the interview to be told, “You’re blind — there is no way you can do this job”. They weren’t even prepared to hear me out! This severely knocked my confidence and I didn’t apply for another job for at least six months.

I then saw a volunteering opportunity for RNIB Pathway and decided to apply. I attended an interview with them and got the job. I was really happy.

That opportunity then turned into another thirteen-week contract doing admin work. When this contract was up I enquired about more employment and they offered me a job as a Sessional Receptionist and volunteer Day Service Assistant. Another nine months passed, and I was offered a job for six months as an Admin Assistant.

With the help of Nicola Glen from the Sight Support Team at Fife Society, I found a job with Fife Council as an Apprentice Customer Service Advisor. The one-to-one support I received was invaluable, especially with the initial application for the job, as parts of the website were inaccessible.

The good news is I applied for the job (not expecting to get anywhere) and a few weeks later heard back and was told that I got an interview. Further support was beneficial here also with regards to dealing with the correspondences for the interview.

I prepared like mad for the interview and I also had some input from other people regarding interview skills and techniques. I have been told by a reliable source that I have the whole package – not just my experience but also the necessary employability skills! The outcome is…I got the job!!

After my long winded story I would like to give some advice: As a blind person looking for a job, it is far from easy and there will be a lot of let downs, however if you want something badly enough it is achievable. If you keep working for it, the right job will show itself eventually. Don’t lose heart.