After working in the same job for eight years now without any hope of promotion, I decided I needed to do something about it. So I started to search for other jobs in another organisation that would match my ambitious targets. After applying for several different places it became apparent that due to my lack of qualifications I couldn’t get a foot in the door despite my wealth of work experience and knowledge that should be more important. The world has moved in peculiar ways over recent times. It seems that paperwork is more important than years of practical experience. With this in mind I decided to start looking for a course which would enable me to gain the qualification the employer’s desire.
I started university this year at the grand old age of 30, a mature student only in name and not in behaviour. For the most part this is true I do like to be the class clown and crack the occasional joke or two. There is no better feeling than a quick quip that has the whole classroom not sure whether they are allowed to laugh at my personal micky taking. However the first few weeks have taught me lots. I am doing a certificate in management studies with the aim of becoming a manager at a sight loss charity in the future. I am learning some key skills and also confirming some common sense facts that I already know. The main thing I am learning though is that libraries and many websites are not set up in a way that someone with severe sight loss is able to access with any ease at all. The staff at campus must be getting a bit tired of me complaining about the set up. It’s not their fault I know but they are the ones that take the full force of my displeasure at such limited IT systems. IT don’t seem to care about making the changes either, so long as they are sat in their boiling hot, windowless office setting up the next Apple Mac they are happy. New toys for the IT guys and lack of interest for the blind guy.
There are three different libraries on three separate campuses and only one computer on each site has accessible software on. Now if I were the only one that would be using this software throughout the entire university then that would be fine right? Well, I am sure with all of the thousands of students that study at the university I simply can’t be the only one. In fact my support worker has told me she supports someone else with sight loss so I know I am not alone.
So, what happens when more than one person wishes to use the accessible computer? The other is left outside in the cold. I suppose you could always walk 9miles to the other campus if you were that desperate. Trying to find it could be difficult however. Then of course if you make it to the other campus you have the find the mysterious accessible machine that probably doesn’t work or is totally out of date so it doesn’t do the correct job anyway.
Moving onto the online library, I have never been much of a reader, wasn’t interested in reading A Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings, I would much sooner watch the screen adaptation with a good bit of Audio Description, so you could forgive me for not being up to date with the library vernacular. When it comes to searching for books and journals it simply can’t be that tough right? Wrong, never more wrong and simply wrong. I have more chance of finding a symbol cane in a junk yard than I would ever have of finding my way around the online library with any degree of continued success. Mainly this is due to the fact nothing is labelled correctly and therefore isn’t read aloud by my software , but also the poor colour contrast on screen which you can’t change. All in all this makes for a very unpleasant experience which leads you to be very frustrated and not want to bother. The amount of headaches I have endured trying to read about motivation theory you wouldn’t believe. Ironic really that I lose motivation struggling to find a journal on motivation theory.
I have to say however the librarians themselves have been nothing short of miraculous at times and have been kind enough to scan books in and copy them into text documents which are so much easier to read. This gives me the level playing field I was promised by the disability department from the start. After all that’s all I need to give myself a good chance of succeeding with my studies. A level playing field and the will power to get through no matter what.
Keeping a full time job as well as doing this course is without doubt going to be a challenge but one that will no doubt be worthwhile in the long term. I will keep you posted on my progression.
That’s it for now.