As a blind person, April faced difficulties getting prospective employers to see past her disability. While applying for jobs, she secured plenty of interviews, but no job offers. It wasn’t until she was hired at Peckham – a company that actively seeks to employ individuals with disabilities – that she found a workplace where she was accepted as a whole person with vast capabilities. In fact, April is one of 47 Peckham employees with a vision impairment, a situation she has rarely encountered in her professional or personal life.
“Usually, as a person who’s blind, you’re the only blind person someone might have ever met,” she explains. “To work at a place where there are several… it’s a really great thing.”
April attributes a significant portion of her success to not defining her identity solely by her disability – she never saw herself as “the blind girl”. Instead, she thinks of her blindness as one of the many characteristics that make up her individuality, as is the case with everyone else.
Technology has also played a key role in propelling April forward professionally. Microsoft Teams allows her to perform the functions typically expected of a Technical Service Representative (TSR). However, it is JAWS, a software specifically developed for individuals who are blind or have a vision impairment, what truly enables April to work just as effectively as any other agent in the call center. JAWS allows April to hear, rather than having to read, the information displayed on a computer screen. Approximately 6% of the call center representatives working for Peckham’s Business Services division use this software successfully to perform their job responsibilities.
Leveraging her self-confidence and the technological support provided by Peckham, April has excelled at her work, earning several promotions during her 5 years with the company. She began her career as an agent on the general information phone line, and later advanced to the applicant phone line. Last October, she was promoted to a TSR position within the training department.
April says it’s important for employers to understand that individuals with disabilities can do so much more than what has been historically expected of them. As an able and willing advocate for people with disabilities, she recently spoke to a group from the Mandela Washington Fellowship, an organization of professionals from various African countries visiting the U.S. in pursuit of best practices for accommodations for people with disabilities that they can share upon their return to their home countries.
While unsure about her next career move, April hopes to remain employed within the organization that she credits with giving her an opportunity when no other employer did. She believes that without Peckham, she wouldn’t have a career nor be the successful version of herself that she is today.