Not every disability is present from birth.
In fact, 83% of people with a disability acquired their disability later in life - whether due to an accident, illness or genetic condition. As an organisation, it’s important to be ready to support your employees through life’s events, and be prepared to help them adjust to their new way of working and living.
Thanks to the UK government's Access to Work Scheme, and tools like Read&Write for Work, organisations are empowered to do just that. Testament to the value of personalised support is the story of Nikki Goode, Administrative Executive at Texthelp.
At the age of just 38, Nikki’s life was altered from what she once knew. One morning in 2014, just five months from her wedding, she suffered two brain hemorrhages - each a type of hemorrhagic stroke. All of a sudden, Nikki was undergoing surgery before being put into a medically induced coma. A week later she regained consciousness, and that’s where her journey living with a disability began.
Due to the events of that day, Nikki was left with an Acquired Brain Injury. Initially, she struggled to regain her physical independence, and received extensive therapy to learn how to walk again. Today, Nikki suffers with cognitive implications - the impact of which left her to believe that she would never work again. However within a year, through her determination and success with the Access to Work Scheme, Nikki was back at work. She was able to return to her successful career.
Read on as Nikki shares her journey, and describes her path to success...
It’s not a nice feeling to feel like you’ve lost everything you worked so hard for. And following my brain injury, I really thought I’d never work again.
As a result of my brain injury I suffer from light sensitivity, cognitive overload, and neuro fatigue. I also struggle with memory retention, and have difficulty maintaining my focus. With the impact this has on my day to day, I couldn’t see myself getting back to the way life was before. Back to the responsibilities I held in my job. However, I was determined, and thankfully I had a manager that was too.
The HR Manager at my workplace back then, together with an Occupational Therapist, arranged an Access to Work assessment for me. During this assessment, myself and my employer discussed my job role and my disability with an assessor. We talked about the way it impacted me, and they came up with potential solutions that would help support my return to work.
The Access to Work scheme gave my employers the opportunity to provide me with tools that suited my needs. One of the recommendations made to me was a software called Read&Write, and I chose it as one of my supports. The whole process was really straightforward, and everything was ready for me when I went back to work. I was able to start using the software instantly.
Read&Write was a game changer for me and I know I wouldn’t be able to perform my job without it.
It’s a literacy and productivity software that supports me to communicate at work. As a toolbar that sits at the top of the screen while you work, it’s so easy to access and use. There are so many functions within it that help me to perform simple tasks like reading reports and writing emails. The simple day to day tasks that are taken for granted.
Some of my favorite features include;
Being provided with Read&Write really made me feel supported by my employers. It gives me the opportunity to do the job to the best of my ability. It makes me feel like I have a contribution to make. I actually think it’s something that everyone could benefit from, not just those with disabilities, because it can be personalised to benefit any user.
Over the last few years I’ve been using Read&Write and everyday I’m so thankful I was introduced to it. It’s the reason I was inspired to work for Texthelp. I wanted to work for the company that helped me to continue my career. So, I applied to join the Texthelp team, and I’m pleased to say I joined the company in 2020.
When I joined Texthelp I was welcomed into such a supportive team, the Workplace Customer Relationship Team. They wanted to learn more about my disability, to help them to understand how they could best support me. So, I offered to share my story with the team and answer any questions about my brain injury. We arranged a really informal Q&A session to chat about it. This helped me to openly talk about the difficulties I experience and how they impact on my day to day. They took time to understand the adjustments that I needed and they have put help in place for me. For example, realising that I suffer from neuro fatigue, they created ‘how to’ videos to guide me through various processes associated with my role. They’re really helpful for referring back to, and allow me to work independently. I would be lost without the support of my team.
Living with a neurodiverse condition day to day is a struggle and to work for a company who supports and embraces that has been life changing for me.
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