Now that we’ve spent a few months carrying out some work on access to employment, I thought I would enlighten you to my line of work.
As a young person, the majority of individuals our age are in a pub, restaurant, or something manual along those lines. All of that’s great, for them. So where do I fit in?
I’m studying Broadcast Journalism in a major Belfast college. I got through the first year of my HND with seven distinctions and one merit. For those who haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, a distinction is the highest grade possible, and a merit is directly below a distinction – think seven A grades and one B.
Naturally, we do some work experience. When I heard we’d be doing a stint on our own radio station I thought somebody else would be producing our material and I wouldn’t have to touch the space craft engine controls. Then about two weeks before we went on air with an Ofcom (the broadcasting regulator) license, I was told not to worry too much about the faders, that there’d be a technician in the room anyway.
I went into an immediate freak-out. Me, use faders? I’ll admit my main worry was that I’d be able to keep a show fluid as producer, editor and presenter and put the music on properly with much weaker arms. The studio height wasn’t ideal either. But that didn’t stop me working on a bench for an hour straight.
That experience, which I got graded at a distinction for, lead me to a new station in Belfast called Blast106 FM.
I got in contact with a slightly amended proposal, because I wanted a two hour long show. My main worry was that the station would not take somebody with a disability. However, I was amazed when I was told that they actually had a ramp up the two front steps, a lift inside and a desk I could reach! What topped the whole science-fiction feel to it was that they had insisted that the building they used for the station be accessible.
So my fellow Trailblazers, some people actually do have common sense.
I’ve been working there, as a volunteer on my own show, for around 5 weeks. I’m loving it so far, and our station manager is fantastic – he moves the desk for my show so that everything is in easy reach and I am comfortable for my two hours.
If anybody watched the BAFTA’s last weekend you will have heard the mention one of the award winners having Motor Neurone Disease. Although he was diagnosed 5 years ago, he continued to work in his wheelchair for BBC Sport and I think this shows that there are organisations out there willing to help.
My experiences doesn’t mean that when I try to get a paid job, it wont be harder. But I’m hopeful. With a number of us showing companies what we CAN do as opposed to what we CAN’T, attitudes will slowly change.