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https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2022/05/18/how-wonder-of-workplace-adjustments-made-life-easier/

How wonder of workplace adjustments made life easier

Kerry Twort, Civil Service Workplace Adjustments Service (CSWAS) Policy & Practice CSHR Expert Services, Cabinet Office, Sheffield

To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 19 May, Kerry Twort reveals how assistive technology and workplace adjustments have transformed her life for the better. Now she’s even on track to achieve A-grade success.

Last year, I started an evening class to retake my GCSE English. I was terrified that the confusion I expected to feel in the classroom would take me right back to being a teenager in school. I left school convinced I was rubbish at English and would never be able to understand it.

I have some long-term health conditions and those, combined with my neurodiversity, mean my cognitive functioning is compromised. Two years ago, I wrote about how assistive software made a profound  difference to life at work. Two years on, it’s time to update my story. I am now very proud to say that assistive software is helping me fulfil my ambitions in other areas of my life too. 

Kerry Twort, HR Policy Adviser, Cabinet Office

Last month, I took a mock exam, and I’ve just found out that I’m expected to achieve a grade A* in my final exams. I was absolutely blown away and expected someone to tell me it's all a joke. I’m so happy my adjustments have given me the tools to really showcase my skills and fulfil my potential. 

Laptop boosts learning

At college now, I use my laptop to take notes during lessons. I have an agreement with my teacher to add any material that we cover during the lesson to the classroom online platform. Then I can use the laptop’s screen reader ‘speak as I type’ software, and I can also use that software in my exams.

Civil Service help

More than a decade ago, I reached out to my line manager regarding the struggles I was facing at work. Since then, assistive software has provided a golden lifeline. It has enabled me to open my mind up to what was once unreachable.

workplace adjustments

From confusion to clarity

At work, I use the latest software to help me. I still use Claroread to read emails and documents as well as ‘speak as I type’ when I am creating documents or replying to emails; this allows me to consciously craft as I write, such as I’ve done for this blog post. Sonocent Audio Notetaker records meetings, allowing me to fully engage without the anxiety of missing key content. (This software has some privacy challenges in my role, but these are easily mitigated.) Finally, Mindview supports me with planning my work - it allows me to map out in a visual spider graph format, bringing clarity out of the fog of my often confused mind.

Gamechanger

Assistive software is a game changer for some colleagues who need workplace adjustments. However in my experience, they generally cannot be used in isolation, but as a supplement to other adjustments. If you think that assistive software could help you, talk to your manager about the workplace adjustments you might need. You will need to complete a Workplace Adjustment Passport which is available on departmental websites. You can also seek advice through the Civil Service Disability Network and Civil Service Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network.

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16 comments

  1. Comment by Chris Wilson posted on

    Great blog Kerry and best of luck in your final exams!!!

    • Replies to Chris Wilson>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      Thank you Chris

  2. Comment by Susie Scarlott posted on

    An amazing blog Kerry, thank you so much for sharing with us.

    • Replies to Susie Scarlott>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      Thank you Susie.

  3. Comment by Rajitha Ratnam posted on

    Thanks for sharing your story! I use Sonocent for university and it's so good, I wish I had access to it earlier in life!

    • Replies to Rajitha Ratnam>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      Me too Rajitha. Audio notetaker really is crucial to my suite of adjustments.

  4. Comment by Alphonse Lewis posted on

    Great blog, Kerry! Love hearing about the difference workplace adjustments have made to your life.

    • Replies to Alphonse Lewis>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      A supportive line manager and one that understands its more than the assistive software and its all sorted is just as important.

      So thank you Al

  5. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you Kerry for sharing your story and the update. I am really pleased that through proper reasonable adjustments and assistive software you have been able to enjoy a career with the Civil Service and achieve your potential.

    Your story is a brilliant example of the importance of the role that the Line Manager and organisation focussing on the ability rather than the disability and working with the officer in putting into place such adjustments / measures, to create a more inclusive work environment.

    I really do hope that your story will inspire others.

    I wish you the best of luck in your coming exams.

    • Replies to Gavin Thomas>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      I totally agree Gavin. Thank you for your well wishes.

  6. Comment by Jo Oakley posted on

    A great blog Kerry, thank you for sharing this update. I am sure your story will resonate and give hope to many people reading it who may be on similar journeys. You deserve your success, enjoy it!

    • Replies to Jo Oakley>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      Thank you Jo

  7. Comment by Emily posted on

    Good look in your exams (first one today!!!), Kerry!

    • Replies to Emily>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      Thank you Emily

  8. Comment by Dorothy posted on

    Hi Kerry your blog held such resonance with me having the correct assistive software does make such huge difference as you say to "showcase our skills" like yourself I have been able to progress within higher education with dyspraxia and dyslexia. Just want to wish you good luck.

    • Replies to Dorothy>

      Comment by Kerry Twort posted on

      I am so pleased that you have also felt the benefits Dorothy. And thank you.