Paul pushes to keep his career after vision loss

29 August 2018

In the lead up to the Victorian state election, Vision Australia is highlighting some of the successful employment stories of our clients. We believe in creating more job opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision. If this is important to you, please join us and share your voice.

For Paul, a typical day in the office involved travelling the world and trekking through the jungles of the Philippines. It was one of the best parts about being a senior engineer at Metso, a global mineral processing equipment manufacturing company that supplies the mining industry.

But when he lost his vision in 2017, changing employers or professions didn’t cross his mind.

“When I lost my sight, for a second, I thought my life was over. Then I thought ‘let’s see what I can do’ so that I can get on with my life. There was a lot of uncertainty when I lost my vision. When I was brought into a meeting with my most senior boss and HR, I knew I had to advocate for myself,” says Paul.

People who are blind or have low vision encounter huge misconceptions and many barriers in workplaces including employers having low expectations and workplaces being inaccessible.

“In the beginning, there was a lot of push back from parts of the business about keeping me on. I had to deal with a lot of ignorance. They were stressed about whether I’d be the same person they worked with for 12 years,” says Paul.

“I held an education session and told them what my needs were. They needed to know that I was the same person who wanted to be treated the same. Instantly their attitudes changed and things got better.”

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One of Paul’s greatest supporters was his manager John who explained that Paul’s ability to support both internal and external customer is as good as it was before he lost his vision.

“We rewrote his job description slightly and workshopped any challenges but overall Paul is doing a similar job to what he was doing before, and he continues to do an exceptional job,” says John.

There are many issues preventing people who are blind or have low vision from equal access to employment.

This 2018 Victorian Election, we’re urging government to take the lead and ensure public service workplaces are accessible to provide better employment rights for job seekers who are blind or have low vision and all people with disability.  Please help us campaign for change.