Matthew at Zurich
Matthew is partially sighted (registered blind) due to a rare inherited genetic condition called Labers Congenital Amaurosis. He has approximately 5% vision, with effects of colour and night blindness.
Matthew joined Zurich initially through the Leonard Cheshire Change 100 programme. He found himself with a manager, in a team, and organisation, that possessed experience in organising reasonable adjustments, the confidence to work with him as an equal, and with the opportunity to enable him to learn much about the industry. He followed this with another internship in the Scottish Parliament, before securing a permanent post as a claims handler with Zurich.
For me, true disability confidence is believing in ordinary opportunities and success for people who are blind or partially sighted – rather than any of these being extraordinary. It is being willing to question how opportunities, application processes, and the setup of a role and working environment, can be inclusive. Diversity in people and practices in our world, makes them a richer, better, and more successful place to be.
Zurich has come a long way with this in a few years. I am proud to be a part of them, and our conversation about how much inclusive ground can be covered yet.
Karen reflects on her experiences of supporting Matthew at Zurich
Matthew joined my team in Farnborough as part of the Change 100 intern programme.
As I had worked so closely with another partially sighted intern in the previous year, I was confident discussing Matthew’s disability with him and asking what assistance would be required to navigate the office etc. It was no longer the elephant in the room and I was much more open as a result.
Small lessons were learnt by us during Matthew’s placement and this included our drinks machines. Whilst the configuration was identical on each machine in Farnborough, when Matthew went to a different office, the configuration of their machines differed, which meant Matthew needed to learn and remember the position of his preferred drink. This may seem small, however this is not a consideration for staff who have no vision impairment, and it can make such a difference to those that do. It also highlighted what we can so easily take for granted and not give a moment’s thought to.
I was delighted to learn that Matthew secured a permanent role with our Glasgow office and I was only too willing to share information and help in any way with the facilities manager and Matthew’s recruiting manager.
I am proud to work for an organisation that supports initiatives such as Change 100, and Disability Confident, and if I reflect on my experience it would be that we need to take the fear factor out of disability in the workplace.
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