Fisher Scientific are winners of the 2012 RNIB College Partnership for Employers Debut Award. Jason Hill, the company’s transportation manager, talks to us about his first experience of taking on a work placement from the College and some of the challenges (and successes!) experienced by employees who are blind or visually impaired.
“The College contacted me regarding a work placement and explained that they were particularly interested in finding something for an adult trainee in the transportation department. They explained that the trainee, Mr Duncan Rothery, had previously worked as a lorry driver and had a good understanding of the industry.
“I wouldn’t say I had any particular concerns at this early stage; it was more like a lack of understanding. My initial thoughts were wondering how someone with sight loss would be able to access this kind of work within an office environment and how they would access the computer. Obviously I knew that there would be a way of doing it, so in way I was also quite intrigued.
“The next step was to arrange a meeting with Christina, from the College’s Transitions Team. She came for a site visit, to complete a risk assessment and to determine what equipment would be required. This was really simple and the College provided all the equipment needed and their technicians came to the office to set it up.
“We then decided to arrange an interview with Duncan in order for us to get to know him. Our main priority was to ensure that he really gained something from this experience. There were many jobs within the department that we could have chosen for Duncan to complete but we wanted to ensure that it would meet his learning objectives. Therefore, we decided to come up with a totally new project for him to work on independently. We left it very open and let Duncan organise himself in a way that worked for him. We began the process with a few hours a week and this soon increased to 2 days a week and lasted for 2 months.
“At the end of the placement Duncan presented the finished project and results. We have now been left with a very useful piece of information which we can use in the future.
“An important thing to remember when you’re thinking about taking on a work placement is to have trust in RNIB College staff. They are experienced in this area and will provide the right support and the right learner for the placement. It’s been a privilege and I am glad we were able to provide a suitable environment for the trainee to enhance their skills. The best bit was being able to see their confidence grow over the weeks. It didn’t take much effort from us but for the trainee it means so much.”
To read more about Duncan’s experience at Fisher Scientific, visit the RNIB College blog.