From self-doubt to ‘yes, I can’: helping Shane to continue to perform at the highest level

Photo: Shane Somerville at his workstation with assistive devices funded by the Employment Assistance Fund (Source: Insight Systems)

Photo: Shane Somerville at his workstation with assistive devices funded by the Employment Assistance Fund (Source: Insight Systems)

For Shane Somerville, providing support and value to his clients and employer at the highest possible level is exceptionally vital.

As the Head of Managed Services at Insight Systems – one of the leading providers of audio-visual technologies in Australia – Shane is directly responsible for managing high-value accounts and maintaining customer relationships.

His role sees him regularly interact with current and prospective clients and suppliers, secure new business, create and review customer contracts, deliver presentations to internal and external stakeholders, as well as travel interstate and overseas to source new AV technology and IT systems.

Developing and sustaining long-term partnerships is critical to the organisation as it translates into high revenue. For Shane, it’s more than that. “Making a difference to our clients’ environment, so their customers are happy, means a lot to me,” he says. “I enjoy working with people and ensuring their outcomes are best met.”

Senior HR Advisor Cornelia Szeszeran adds, “Shane has established great working connections with our clients and productive relationships with our internal teams based onsite and offsite.”

Over recent years, Shane developed Cone Dystrophy and progressively lost his central vision. It impacted his ability to perform some core components of his role as he experienced difficulty in reading documents, reviewing contracts, delivering presentations and participating in high-level meetings. 

“What we take for granted is reading and reviewing information so easily. Losing the ability to read affected my confidence,” Shane explains. “Not being able to read the agenda or presentations during meetings meant my contribution was being compromised. This resulted in a level of frustration and anxiety, and impacted my personal participation, I wasn’t able to put my best foot forward.”

Cornelia recounts, “Shane is a consummate professional, and he wanted people to see him in the same light. When he shared his access requirements in a one-to-one meeting, I sensed the considerable challenge and stress he was experiencing. He loves his job and wanted to keep working at the same level of proficiency but needed support to do so.”

Shane learnt about JobAccess at an open day for vision supports that showcased the latest assistive technologies. “I spoke with a low vision consultant from Quantum who explained the different types of solutions available and recommended me contacting JobAccess,” he says. “The result has been nothing short of amazing!”

With the support of his employer, Shane applied for the Employment Assistance Fund through JobAccess. Upon receiving the application, JobAccess organised a free workplace assessment to help identify and recommend simple modifications.

“The JobAccess Adviser who oversaw my case, was very responsive and understanding. From the point of having a conversation to something rocking up at the workplace, the turnaround time was swift,” Shane says.

Cornelia affirms, “There was a genuine sense of excitement when JobAccess responded so promptly. There was no challenge in working with them, and they were so compassionate and professional. Our excitement kept building as we saw the application process progress so quickly!”

Through JobAccess, Shane received funding for a ClearView Speech Magnifier that reads all types of text, a portable OrCam reader with wireless Bluetooth-enabled earbuds, and a large monitor for his home office when working offsite.

“The ClearView Magnifier is fantastic as it helps me quickly and efficiently read and review contracts, tenders and other reports. Its touchscreen functionality allows me to navigate complex documents easily and skip to important parts that I need to assess. Reading documents was almost impossible for me, but now I can complete these tasks without having to ask others.”

Shane further adds, “The OrCam is life-changing! I attach the compact device to my glass frame, and it reads the information to me through a small speaker via a Bluetooth earbud. It is ingenious for meetings as I can follow the agenda and read content displayed on screens.”

“I also use it when presenting using PowerPoint, where the OrCam reads my slide notes to me. The best part is no one else can hear that, and I can deliver the presentation more naturally. Before the OrCam, these tasks were simply out of reach for me and caused much anxiety and stress, as I found it challenging to present to groups and not be able to read.”

Cornelia explains, “It’s wonderful to see Shane in his true spirit with renewed confidence. You can notice that when he is interacting with people around him. He feels reassured that he can continue performing his job as he had before.”

“It’s hard to understand the impact when we lose the subtleties in how we do our job. Shane was starting to doubt himself, but the supports from JobAccess have empowered him.”

“One significant change I see in Shane is that he has become more comfortable in sharing information about his condition, which is not common. He talks about it more openly now, and we don’t see it as a disability because he doesn’t either,” Cornelia says. 

Shane concludes, “My concern was that I wouldn’t be able to deliver the job in the long term. But these supports have removed my worry and stress, made me more productive and positively impacting the business.”

“The assistance from JobAccess and my management, has been remarkable. It’s taken a mental leap to walk up and articulate what the issues are so I can fully participate in the workplace as a valued member of the organisation. It’s great to have the confidence to say ‘yes, I can do this’ and take back control in every aspect of my work and personal life.”

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