George has not yet completed his first month as an intern Information Support Officer with the Nystagmus Network. This week he was given a very special assignment, to give oral evidence to the APPG on eye health and visual impairment as they undertake their inquiry into employer attitudes and blind and visually impaired people.
Stepping into the historic halls of Parliament, I felt a mix of excitement and nerves. As a visually impaired individual, the opportunity to speak at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Lived Experience was not just a chance to share my perspective but also a responsibility to advocate for greater inclusivity in the workplace. Chaired by the esteemed MP Marsha de Cordova, the session focused on gathering oral evidence for the inquiry into employers’ attitudes towards individuals with visual impairments.
Representing the Nystagmus Network was both an honour and a privilege. As an advocate for individuals with visual impairments, I had the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the invaluable work carried out by the Nystagmus Network in supporting people living with nystagmus.
One of the most striking aspects of the session was the genuine interest and engagement from the other speakers and hearing about their own personal experiences. Marsha de Cordova’s leadership fostered an environment where every voice was not just heard but valued. As she turned to me for my response, I spoke passionately about the barriers faced by individuals with visual impairments in securing and maintaining employment. From inaccessible job application processes to the lack of accommodations in the workplace, I highlighted the systemic challenges that often hinder the professional aspirations of individuals with sight loss. Drawing from my own journey, I emphasised the importance of proactive measures such as reasonable adjustments and awareness training to create more inclusive work environments.
The exchange that followed was not just a dialogue but a catalyst for change. Marsha de Cordova’s thoughtful questions and receptiveness to our testimonies signalled a genuine willingness to address the issues at hand. Through open and honest conversation, I felt a sense of optimism that real progress could be made towards dismantling barriers and fostering greater inclusivity.
Leaving Parliament that day, I carried with me a renewed sense of purpose. While the road ahead may be challenging, the experience reaffirmed my belief in the power of advocacy and collective action. As Marsha de Cordova continues to champion disability rights within the halls of Parliament, I remain committed to lending my voice to the cause and working towards a future where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can thrive in the workplace.
In conclusion, my participation in the APPG Lived Experience was not just an opportunity to speak truth to power but a testament to the resilience and determination of individuals with visual impairments. Together, let us continue to advocate for a world where inclusivity is not just a goal but a reality for all.