I’m not being weird, I’m just blind!
26 Sep 2023
It was more than 25 years ago that Insiyah was diagnosed with a genetic and worsening eye condition that causes extreme short sightedness and poor night vision.
It was discovered by specialists but only years after her optician told the then 17-year-old student, who was having difficulty reading her teacher’s words on the classroom whiteboard, to move closer to the front of the room!
She was determined not to let the condition affect her life or career: she travelled widely, worked in the US and as a teacher in the UK and now, at Ingeus, has found a company that offers all the help she needs to thrive as a member of a key business team.
“I joined Ingeus in 2016 after my previous employer became less inclined to support me,” says 46-year-old Insiyah. “However, at Ingeus I found straight away it was so easy to get the things I needed. I wasn’t met with resistance that if something was difficult it couldn’t be done. Instead, the attitude was: ‘Let’s see what we can do, we’ll figure something out.’”
She has spent two spells with the business, with a two-year gap during which she had her daughter, and initially was provided with a range of tools to overcome her difficulty in reading printed words.
“When I had to do a presentation for my interview I was asked if I needed any reasonable adjustments, so was up front and said if I had to read anything I’d like it to be sent digitally or in a larger print format.
“As soon as I was awarded the role I contacted the Government’s Access to Work specialists to assess my situation and Ingeus readily took on board its recommendations.
“I got lots of new things to aid me, such as a larger monitor and software that magnifies everything you see on screen.
“I also had a keyboard with bigger letters plus a device that magnified any document placed below it onto a screen, as well as a hand-held version to use when I was not at my desk.”
On her return to the business in 2021 she was appointed Quality, Audit and Risk Manager for Ingeus’s Commissioned Rehabilitative Services and, although registered as severely sight impaired, found she no longer needed some of the aids she first relied on.
“There have been such massive advances in technology that now I find Windows Magnifier meets my needs and I can use my smartphone’s camera to zoom in and read anything that’s in hard copy.
When I first joined Ingeus as the new person in a big office I felt a bit awkward, particularly with all the new kit on my desk. I felt I wanted to wear a badge that said: ‘I’m not being weird, I’m just blind!.’
“However, on speaking to colleagues they told me they hadn’t realised I had a sight problem. I thought it was obvious, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t made to feel like I stood out awkwardly because of my condition.
“It can be isolating if you have a disability, you can think you are the only person with this set of challenges, but Ingeus has lots of great wellbeing initiatives that encourage people to talk about conditions ranging from neurodiversity to menopause.”
As part of the inclusivity culture at Ingeus, which is a Disability Confident Leader, Insiyah has gained accredited qualifications and produced tips for those using assistive technology. They have been shared widely across the business and include inverting screen colours to make text easier to read, using dictate functionality rather than typing, and enlarging the cursor on screen to locate it more easily.
It’s an initiative that fits well with National Inclusion Week
(25 Sept-1 Oct). Its theme is Take Action Make Impact to encourage actions that bring positive and lasting change.
Despite there being no immediate cure for her eyesight condition Insiyah stays positive: “I am optimistic that I can carry on working and, with medical advances, I remain hopeful there will be some sort of breakthrough. I will use all the resources available to me and know that Ingeus and my colleagues will support me.”