In a five-part series of articles devoted to the Access To Work scheme, Allana shares her experience of the whole process. From the initial online application to getting the support equipment, Allana explores if the Access to Work is accessible for its applicants.
Despite still locking horns with my doctor’s surgery over the letter confirming my visual impairment; common sense prevails and I am able to proceed with the workplace assessment part of the Access To Work application. I receive a call from “Momentum skills”, ATW’s partner organisation who have been tasked with carrying out said assessment, and the date is set for the twenty-seventh of April.
One Week Later
The signs look ominous as the interview threatens to descend into chaos before it has even started. We are confronted by a scene of utter carnage at our intended meeting place; with abandoned kitchen appliances as far as the eye can see. Amongst mutterings about someone welching on the electric bill, and in fear of being roped in to the clean-up operation, we beat a hasty retreat to the town’s only coffee shop.
Regardless of the earlier fun and games, I surprisingly get good vibes from the off. For the first time I am making a positive contribution to this claim. No more admin, I really feel like I am properly involved.
This is largely thanks to Momentum’s assessor who puts me at ease from the moment we meet. He further calms my jangling nerves when he clarifies his role in the day’s proceedings. Far from being there to influence me in any way, He wants to find out about my background and suggest solutions that might make my working life easier. Things look more promising still when I discover that he, like me, counts good coffee amongst his best buddies.
In order to achieve a successful outcome, three main subject areas will be on the agenda for discussion: my eye condition, my new position with DNDP and the support I need to carry out my duties to the best of my abilities.
We race through the first two parts of the assessment in record time, and get down to the nitty-gritty; the support I will require from Access to work.
We open by discussing my previous experience of assistive technology. Building a picture of my habitual working methods helps ascertain what I might find useful in the future. We quickly settle on The JAWS for windows screen reader, a Braille note-taker and a camera device for scanning. I am pleasantly surprised to find the assessor’s approach absolutely refreshing. No attempts to steer me in the direction of using cheaper alternatives; he simply accepts that I know the products well because I have been using them since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. In short, I am the one who knows what is best for me!
He is equally happy to take the lead when required however, as he does when demonstrating how OCR technology works, and I am thankful for his input. Other than the assistive tech I have used previously; I confess to being a bit of a technophobe. I swear I am not half as bad as my significant other would have you believe though. If ever I show my uncertainty of new devices I receive a theatrical sigh in reply, followed by his impression of Still Game’s Shug the Lug, “Where does the coal go?”
What to Expect Next
Finally, the advisor sets out what I should expect to happen next. A report summarising today’s discussion and making recommendations for equipment will be prepared; which I will receive in the post within two weeks. The report becomes my property then and we will only go on to the next stage of the application if I am happy with its contents.
All in all, I have to commend ATW and “Momentum Skills” for the way this part of the process is handled. Contrary to my experiences so far, the whole assessment takes a mere 40 minutes to complete, and I could not have had a better assessor. His years of experience working with visually impaired people shone through. I am at least confident now that I will receive the right support, regardless of how long this process takes.
To talk to DNDP about employment opportunities or to support disabled workers by adding a socially driven courier into your supply chain, click ‘Chat Now’ or call us on 01355 813400.
To learn more about Access To Work, read Allana’s previous blogs:
Part 1: Online Application
Part 2: Bureaucratic Red Tape