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Breaking barriers with the Employment Assistance Fund

Donna Purcell, Senior Manager Accessibility and Capability Advice at Commonwealth Bank.

Donna Purcell, Senior Manager Accessibility and Capability Advice at Commonwealth Bank

Common activities many of us take for granted aren’t always so easy for people with disability. Take business travel, for example.

“For a person with a disability, one of the most frustrating things is having access to information when I’m staying in a hotel,” says Donna Purcell, Senior Manager Accessibility and Capability Advice at Commonwealth Bank Australia.

Donna is part of the Group Customer Advocacy Team at Commonwealth Bank and travels regularly to present at accessibility events and to consult with customers and the community to improve the bank’s focus on accessibility.

The travel, however, poses some challenges for Donna, who is blind.

“I am unable to read the hotel directory to get information on how to call reception or room service, and I don’t always want to trek back downstairs with my guide dog to ask for help to order breakfast,” she says.

But, through JobAccess and the Employment Assistance Fund, these challenges are not insurmountable.

Recognising the issue, Donna spoke with her Manager Ryan Kassel. Then, supported by Commonwealth Bank, she reached out to JobAccess to see what kind of advice or solutions might be available.

JobAccess organised a free Workplace Modification Assessment where the Assessor recommended a number of devices that could help. This included an Orcam, which is a small camera device that clips on to a pair of glasses and can effectively ‘read’ documents, computer screens, and even dollar notes.

“It’s been incredible. For the first time in years I can pick up a book or a document and just read it! I have not had this experience of picking something up and having instant access in over twenty years,” she says.

That wasn’t the only assistance Donna received. Through the Employment Assistance Fund, she was also approved to purchase a Victor Reader-Trek, which allows her to save and access electronic documents on a small portable device. It also has a built-in accessible GPS function, making navigating unfamiliar areas much easier.

Donna’s manager, Ryan, said he had been supportive of the entire process because he wanted Donna to have the best tools and resources available to support her at work, and knew access to the Employment Assistance Fund could help them provide that.

“Having this technology through the support of JobAccess has given Donna the resources she needs to travel independently for work and importantly, gives her access to all the information she needs to be on an equal par with her colleagues,” says Ryan.

Donna says she is looking forward to her next interstate trip and putting her new technology to the test.

To find out more about the Employment Assistance Fund and how it can be used for workplace assessments and modifications visit https://www.jobaccess.gov.au/employment-assistance-fund-eaf.

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