The All 4 Inclusion Pod

#23 Seeing clearly, whilst registered blind - Jamie Shields

September 28, 2022 Scott Whitney Season 2 Episode 7
The All 4 Inclusion Pod
#23 Seeing clearly, whilst registered blind - Jamie Shields
Show Notes Transcript

Joining me on this podcast is Jamie Shields, who is currently working on his new podcast Inclusivi-T

Jamie is registered blind and has identified through his lived experience that society stops him from doing things more than his disability.

Jamie talks about his education, mental health and work - not all have been inclusive and accessible. He also shares some great tips to make your social media posts more accessible - whether you are a business or using it as part of your social life.

A positive advocate for anyone with any disability, Jamie is very open in speaking about his feelings during life. This is something that businesses managing disabled people can learn from.

Voiceover for intro and outro by Jennie Eriksen | LinkedIn

Music granted free of charge very kindly by Music: https://www.purple-planet.com . The track is called Hope and Inspire.

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Scott Whitney:

Welcome to our next episode of the All4Inclusion pod. Joining me today is Jamie shields. Now Jamie refers to himself as a rhinosaurus. Jamie, do you wanna please expand on why you are a rhinosaurus

Jamie Shields:

Yeah, so I am a registered blind Rhino I have I'm empowered. I'm also gay. And when I was younger, I can remember people used to call me for being gay. So I used say this kinda sarcastic remark was yes, I park my unicorn outside. And I got this notebook years ago which said rhinos are just chubby unicorns. And I was like, this is perfect. This sounds like me and then I realized that rhinos actually have bad eyesight. Some of the worst eyesight animal kingdom. So I was like, this is definitely me, to be registered blind and just sprinkles everywhere. So yeah, that's why I am the register blind rhino.

Scott Whitney:

So rhinos have, very low eyesight. So there are some animals out there that have zero eyesight, rhinos on my Google search, which is as accurate as Google can be, is saying it is the, the worst vision of an animal that has vision. So what other animals do you think join it in the

Jamie Shields:

top five? I have to say elephants. I think elephants is one too. Oh,

Scott Whitney:

it's not there really. Oh God.

Jamie Shields:

But bats don't have bad. Does abt kind of thing have ballet side though? Did it?

Scott Whitney:

Oh, it is classed in there. Yeah. Says bats aren't blind. However, this doesn't mean that they cant spot a tasty bug across a cave with no trouble. Oh, so bats one.

Jamie Shields:

Badger, a badger has bad eyesight. I know that from watching a kids program years ago

Scott Whitney:

Animals of Farthing Wood

Jamie Shields:

Gosh, it was

Scott Whitney:

It's not in there, but yeah, I would probably say it.

Jamie Shields:

God. I know. I'm trying to think it, I'm trying to, I'm thinking of mammals and I dunno way I'm like maybe there's a lizard there. Snakes. The snakes are good. They're found out bad eyesight. Ah,

Scott Whitney:

Yeah, I think they have, I'll give you the others that, they'll have a podcast just on, Jamie guessing animals with poor eyesight. So moles have, moles of, of bad eyesight and sometimes of mole have, Have no eyesight at all. They've just gone quite vague with one which is deep sea fish.

Jamie Shields:

but it's dark down there. I don't think anybody could see

Scott Whitney:

yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then the other one shock me. It was the bull.

Jamie Shields:

do you know what I could believe that? Do you know? I watched a bit, I didn't watch a friend show me this video earlier was to know those balls. You put yourself in and go down steep Hills, or you running on each other kind of thing. They're like big inflated. I don't know what you call them, like big inflatable balls. And there were people just like standing playing football with big ball in them, but a bull's chasing them and hitting them and stuff. So bulls, when they're doing those flag things like they're horrible to do, but those bulls don't know whether they're running there under, towards the red instead of the person. So I can believe that. Yeah.

Scott Whitney:

yeah, exactly. But I definitely didn't think that, I thought they was, they was quite good being able to target in, on

Jamie Shields:

someone, but obviously not surprised badgers aren't the top of this list. I'm like every show I can think of badgers have wore at glasses. I'm like they, how, but I said don't yeah,

Scott Whitney:

So do you want to, To, to tell people, a little bit more about yourself, what you're doing when it comes to inclusion at the moment.

Jamie Shields:

I, am registered blind as I said. So the medical term for my disability is ocular albinism with N stigmas, which essentially means I am the same as albino with pigmentation. And the Nemus means my eyes goes full walk. So it dances and it's uncontrolled. So I was register blind and I was quite, we, I have a condition where is hereditary. It's passed from females, passing on to males and it is meant a skip generation, but it didn't do it with my family. I dunno what happened there? I think I broke the curse but worth, it means like I struggled pretty much a lot in my life, From education through to employment, both struggled to gain employment and retain it. So I ended up. Jumping job to job, really. Like I was job hopping had more jobs and I did have dinners, at the time. And I was trying to be independent. I think that one of the things we made is I am actually blind, but I still have sight. So I do. So I try to be as independent as possible. And I think when my mom like everybody's mom, they're usually quite over protect over aren't there. So you almost dropped up and caught. Woo. And I didn't want that. So I moved away to the city, like 45 minutes away from my mom. Wasn't the best idea. especially when your job hopping. So there times I had struggled by and just didn't tell anybody. So then I, fell into this job in recruitment. I seen a friend post on Facebook with a, oh, we're looking for people for my work. And I had just left quite a big employer. and had just been discriminated against, treated really poorly and was kind the stage just given up and employment and just take the advice from my doctor and just go and benefits. But I said, Nope, I'm not doing that and went for this job. But I thought it was a call center. Ended up being recruitment, ended up being the best job of my life. I've been in it for three years. I've worked with clients doing recruitment. So the company I work for is Alexander Mann Solutions. we are AMS, we rebranded, and we essentially support recruitment of clients globally. and in my job, I support clients during their own recruitment. Then I worked internally, but at the side of my desk, I was our global disability employee resource complete, which is a fancy way to say I help lead group community within AMS with both lived experience and advocacy. To talk about disability, to product candidate within our business culture to drive inclusion. And then that role then transpired our few months ago into me becoming our disability inclusion coordinator. But now my role is helping drive disability across the globe. so that is my day job. I also did a podcast called that thing called inclusion, which was all about inclusion. Giving tips of businesses and job seekers I've now, that's now ceased. So I'm now actually doing a new podcast called Inclusivi-t, hyphen t, not actually spell inclusivity. and it pretty much the same principle tips for job seekers, businesses, and just sharing lived experience and found voices, but like what you try to do. Cause I think that lived experience is so important. and that's why I do my day job as well is to find voices. I thought was a really long answer. Wasn't it? it was, but

Scott Whitney:

you know what? I love long answers what was, what was it like, going through school then for you, Jamie?

Jamie Shields:

When I was in primary school, I went to mainstream school. So I was, I struggled really badly school. So it did, when everybody knew I was struggling, but there was a spike going on in the background with education board. And my mom wanted me to go into specialist education, which I, he had thought a horrible term, special education. Because to me, when I was younger, even in mainstream school, I was put in special class or special needs class. It was a class for children who they deemed couldn't be in a classroom. So if you were disabled or if you and you were neurodivergent, if there was anything that made your needs different, anybody in that class, you were in special needs. So placed in special needs, now I'm quite a sociable person in special needs class. You were treated very much You went to class, you're almost like this individual who is in a room with other individuals, but you weren't treated as such. So you were really segregated and then segregated again. So I struggled. I remember in, I think it was like P seven. The teacher said to my moment, he needs to man up. and my mom was like, what do you mean? He's can't play sport? I'm registered blind of course I can't play sport. like I know there's people out there play, but when you're playing in a non-accessible way with classmates who don't understand disability, because you don't teach disability at school, we don't teach how to be inclusive. My mom ended up, I think I'm not gonna say she hit him, but she did something to the teacher. And honestly it was like back and forth because she had to keep fighting to get me into education. Then she got me into specialist education, which was great. It was me traveling an, hour each way, to school and then again home in the afternoon. and I could have boarded, but I didn't want to, because I didn't wanna miss out on my family. I'm a big family. I had friends and to me, I didn't wanna be special anymore. I'd be special in primary school. And I didn't want that to. in my teenage years, if you will. But it ended up being my teenage years because I used to tell my friends that I went to a boarding school, but I didn't board. I didn't tell them that I'm actually blind. I told everybody I needed glasses, so I stayed in special school and we stayed. I stayed there six years, to do my GCSE's because in that school, we actually got another year to do it. So we actually. had entry level exams in fifth year. And then second year we did a GCSE. So it really was fantastic. The teachers were specially trained, but again, I felt special. I didn't understand why I still had to be segregated from people. Why did I have to travel school an hour to go to school? My friends could just hop on a bus would go across the next town or just walk to school. Why was I had to travel and be different? I decided after my exams, I didn't wanna, I didn't wanna go to special school. I went to England. Did university over there with, not the university but college over there with people who were visually empaired as well. My uncle did it. He has the same condition, but I didn't wanna do it again. I was just like, why do I have to go away to. Get an education. So I went to mainstream school, worst mistake in my life when you're 16, 17 leaving education after being supported for so long. I got bullied really badly. I mapped for half the disability. I was mapped also from being gay. So like I learned to. Pretty much mask, a lot of my identity for a few years. Like I didn't wanna be gay. Didn't wanna be disabled. Didn't wanna ask for help. My teachers didn't really understand I was doing art and you think art, oh, easy subject. I just draw completely wrong. I thought that too was a lot harder than it was. I was having to sew and I was getting shouted at and told off cuz I couldn't sew in the pattern or I couldn't thread the needle on a, I can remember teaching so taught like. When I asked her to help me thread the needle. And honestly, I dunno how I love making things like I make Halloween costumes every year, but. There are absolutely a mess this question, but I just like the creativity. So to me it obviously shot my confidence. I struggled, as I said, and I got just, I hate it, I hated school. So I did. And then I told the teacher, it was getting bullied, nothing was done about it at all. Cause nothing's ever done about bullying was the victoms fault. So I stayed in school. I wanted to get my a levels, in, into, in art. It was a double award. but I ended up having a dropout of it because they weren't making adjustments. They didn't understand. And honestly, for two years it was two years of my life. I hated it was like college. It was a levels, but I'd ran to mainstream school. Yeah, my education was, it had very high peak when I went to Special school, which is Jordanstown in Northern Ireland. like it was a brilliant school. The teachers that are incredible, like to this day, my art teacher is still one of my biggest motivators when I draw, when I do any creative, because she's to say just cuz she can't see anything doesn't mean that. It doesn't look good, how you are perceiving it to the world. Like the world will perceive it differently to how you perceive it. And that's the beauty of art. And I used to laugh at it and just, I still kept thinking for saying it and I'm like, it's so true. everything I do is my own unique way. Like I make posters online and LinkedIn and sometimes not even sometimes I'll probably mess it up and sometimes they'll have a typo here and there, but to me I'm like, so what of the process it's made face value? I'll make typos and I'll save things. that's when teach you, she taught me that, but yeah, often a tangent therapy, but yeah, education was not the best so yeah, it was varied and challenging.

Scott Whitney:

but if you was now to go back knowing what you know now, how would your education be? What would you choose?

Jamie Shields:

I wouldn't have went to specialist education. I would have probably, I think it's, I think it's a child or young person you're so overlooked. You're not until you get over teen. It's you don't have any kind of say in your own life. And I think that when you have a child who's going through diagnosis, any kind of thing to do with disability on your diverse, any kind of diagnosis. If you're in a room, it's, Adults talk and make the decisions about your life. The guy I'm 32 now. And I still remember the conversation my mom had with the social kind of social, my social worker and the school board and the education authority to try to get me into that special school and my mom, fought tooth and nail to get me in because she knew I'd fall through the gaps in mainstream education. But if I had the confidence or if I had the knowledge. Or if the laws and the way things are done were different in back in 19, whatever it was 19 four or five, if things may have been different, but if I could go back now or meet somebody my age, now I'd tell 'em to stay in school and you have rights. You need to know, your parents should not make all the decisions you have it say, cause that was taken away from me. And when I left bachelor's education, I wasn't socially, like not that I was socially didn't know how to behave socially, but I just didn't know how to react with people who weren't. Disabled. I didn't know how to really make friends and I wasn't bullied in school that he kept me wrong, but obviously being gay, I was quite noticeably gay when I was younger. everybody else it was not to myself. Cause I didn't realize until 17, so I got bullied for that too. So I think for me, if I could go back and sound to myself, but would be learn, speak off yourself, speak back, don't take the nonsense or let the overtalk you. Cause it's always happened. Everyone always said, this is what you need rather than saying, what do you need? and

Scott Whitney:

schools, it's a very tricky place for anyone. And there's a lot of people that it's so easy just to get into that culture where look we want to be in the cool gang. And if you are not in the cool gang, then part of my way of staying in is by. Sometimes intentionally and being harmful in speaking out and sometimes unintentionally, but either way it can cause a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety and, a lot of depression for other people. What was your mental health like going through school? I know you, having these sort of hour journeys going in, coming out, like end school.

Jamie Shields:

I think when was in Special education it was okay. But once I got to, because I hated going to don't get me, like I hated the time to travel. I had a bit different stuff, but when I was, In specialist education. I was happy cause I still have friends school at friends who understood my eyesight. I didn't have to hide to them. It was just when I came home, I put on my new mask and the, I remember came be dead half, three and put on Pokemon. So I was half four. So take, it was half fourth. I come home and put on Pokemon and it was my little thing I used to do. Then my friends would call over and I would go play with him. when I kinda went to mainstream school, Things just went, I don't know what went back to fun. Like I think like volume really impacts everybody, but until I kinda went into my a levels, I started drinking. Like I've binge drink so I lashed out my parents. I lashed out the world. It probably broke a lot of relationships with friends and probably impacted relationships with family members. especially my dad obviously is very protected of me and I used to fight with him all the time for it. And I see him with my mom, but I think for me, I was masking so much like the masking was. It was hard to try to Mask that you're gay. It's hard to try to Mask that you're registered blind when it's quite visible when you're on your phone. And when you have people going, oh, look how closely you look to your phone, where your glasses, or just need to be cheeky, one liners. And it's just kids being kids, but those kinds of things really impact you. When I was doing my levels, I was up and down. My mental health suffered from like 18 to probably 26, 27. I really still actually 28 probably is when I started, that's 28. Like my mental health really suffered. I went up and down for years. I think a lot of that there is. Said I called it in, like I continued to mask. Even when I finished school, I was masking in jobs. I was telling employers that I was bad eyesight, the glasses couldn't help. Or I told them that I was visually empaired. I never told them and register blind, I'm registered blind. I can't actually see the trainer. I can't actually see these invites send me, I can't use your website. Like I, I held all this in and I was my own worst enemy, but it was just because I think what happened to school, I was not like I was traumatized or PTSD or anything. Those things really do. Just tip away at you see day and you hold down to them. When things kinda escalated, things get bagged. It all tumbles already. So I just rolled through employment from education to employment dropped outta university three times because I wasn't getting support there. So I was just, I was lost. And I think if anyone says, what was Jamie like, then it was lost. And I think when I was getting diagnosed with depression and anxiety or. All these other different things that would given me tablets and they were impacting I think a lot more. and I got quite honest. I had moments where I was suicidal and I did silly things. And thankfully I have very observing family members and friends, and they really scooped me up and helped me get back in track. But for me, I think I, I didn't find my place until I found empowerment my disability. Once I found that empowerment, my disability. I find a way, bit more empowerment. Even in my sexuality, I find empowerment talking about being neuro diverse. And I do think that when has been diagnosed with depression, a lot of the times, I just didn't know how to handle the feelings in my, inside my head. So I think sometimes that overspeed and. That kind of affected me, not getting like a diagnosis of depression rather than actually send this to be something else could be something to during neuro divergence. It was just completely rule out. So it just kept pumping full of tablets. So yeah, my mental health was not great, so it's not, and even to this day, I'm an advocate you said to somebody, how are you? And I say, okay, I'll say that cause, okay, it's not a feeling like tell me how you really feel. But when somebody says it to me, I said the same answers, yep. I'm okay. Cause I don't like talking about my mental health to anybody. It took me years to get to the place, to even talk to my parents or talk to my partner about my mental health, even though I have bits, I have visible scars that I have covered up on a tattoo in my arm. And when I look down at that to me now, I'm like, I should be able to talk about this, but to me, I'm like, I don't need to talk about it. Cause I now have new ways to kinda. To kinda unleash that. So I can't go in trainings. If I'm in training, talk about mental health. I'm like, I can't listen this. Nope. I have to go write down my feelings or I have to go create an angry graphic or picture or paint. I love to paint. So it's strange because I have the kids so watch for mental health, but I don't try to talk about mine and show mine with anyone's that my partner really, or my mom.

Scott Whitney:

sometimes it's the advice. You very freely and often give to others. Is the advice that you just don't take on board yourself? Isn't it?

Jamie Shields:

Yeah. I tell people all the time at work. Cause I can't see somebody message me like nine o'clock and I'll be like, get offline. What are you doing? You're crazy. It's like, why are you online to see I'm online? I'm like that doesn't matter. Get off. it's easier to give than take advice. I've allowed thought so many times in my life. Yeah.

Scott Whitney:

And I, one thing I've said to a lot of people is, is giving advice receiving help. there's a lot of people that, that wrongfully think asking for help is, is a sign of weakness. But if you ask a hundred people, would you give someone help if they need it? you're gonna find a hundred people more often than not, that are gonna say yes, we would. and it's a sign of strength in my opinion, to be able to inwardly recognize that you need support and. Whether that's mental health, whether that's with a skill or a sales part of the job or whatever, it's that same recognition and asking is, I believe is definitely a sign of strength. So going into, into work then Jamie, like I know you was bouncing around quite a few jobs. You said that you didn't tell people that you registered blind.

Jamie Shields:

Yeah. So when I first left university the first time, so I, I'm went to university first time to do art. So when I was doing art, I was struggling. Like I couldn't do classes and I'd taken a job in a nightclub. And it's if I tell this bar that I can't see, and when I'm in a club, it's so much harder for me to see, like when I'm in a club now or a bar, my partner has to hold my hand and I make him do it really discreetly, cuz i don't like to holds hands on public. I'm so weirded about PDA. but I'm like just guide me. But when I. When I back then, I didn't want anyone to know. I was like, they're gonna think I'm really weird. oh, look at this bad boy trying. I get a job in club. So I got a job in the bar. And it was like a proper night club, but it was so dark. I don't know why I did it, but like for a few months I got along with it and I met some really great people, but it came, became very obvious that I couldn't use the tills. It became very obvious. I wasn't really clean in, in the dark. and then they were like, what can we give him to do what isn't gonna be too? dodgy for him to be. I ended up coming a shot boy. So I had a backpack like Ghostbusters and I used to give shots out to people, used to come up to me and I give the shots for two pound or three pound. If you want a tip. I used to say, and I did that. And because I struggled at university, I was just like, I'm dropping this and just doing this is my job realized working in a bar when you're registered blind. You're not gonna get very far, you're not enjoying your job. And the sleep was killing me. Like I wasn't getting enough sleep. So I left that and went into call centers and thought this is gonna be sweet. Everybody says, call centers. Agree. Not, Nope. Nope. They were not great. And back, but this is 12 years ago. Like call centers were not what they are today. There was no support. So like I had told the first place I'd ever worked at I bad eyesight and talking of our comments. And I said to really bad now, I will struggle and they're like, oh, "can be fine" kind of thing. And then I remember going through for the interview and the girl said to me, oh, we haven't got anybody with disability working for us And it was almost like, then I became this exciting thing for them, like this shiny little toy and. When I got the job, so I got, I managed to get the job. and I think this is I'm gonna be honestly in interviews. I just, I think cuz I go down so many tangents, I'm like, I give you so much information that you get the answer summer, but you get so much more season days like bonus points. so I got the job and then in the job itself, this, the training I couldn't do. I couldn't see the board at all. I was copying everybody else's answers. And when I say copying, I couldn't see it, they typing. So I was making notes, look and people would obviously guess, and what is he doing? He's so close to computer. You can't see. and I got to the point where I'd have to tell trainer and I'd pull him aside and say to him, listen, I'm. Blind. I can't see anything you're doing. I can't see these systems in panic and it'd be like, no worries. We'll keep it between us and all. And then you'll go into the room and it'd be like, Jamie, can you see this? Can you see from here? Can you see this? And again, those kinda, oh my God all think I'm different kicked in. I had many instances, I'd left the bar. So as I happened two or three times, then I got a job in another call center. And again, I had the same thing. Oh, we've never had somebody who's blind work with us before I have explained to them again, I'm not blind, I'm register blind. I can still save some site. it's not the best site. And you wouldn't want me to tell you what way to look when you're driving or coming out of a junction, but, I can still see and got the job. Same thing happened to training a male friend, too. You let me copy all their notes. I Passed the training this time on the systems. It was terrible. Like my face was touched on the computer. and like in a call center, I dunno if anyone would remember this call center for 12 years ago, they were grim. The desk would be dirty for the people who sat down with four year that we, oh, I remember one day there was computer and it was sick underneath it. And I obviously couldn't tell, cause I couldn't see the data was worn in the pattern and I had touched it even now, like eurgh even thinking about it, like it was grim and. A total manager was struggling. Didn't care, did not care. Oh, get on with it. you've target to meet. We have targets to meet, remember tell one manager one call center and he was lovely about it. He was just like, We're not gonna be able to promote to you though. you're not gonna go further in this job. and to be honest with you, if we change our systems, you're not gonna be able to do it. What are you gonna do? So stayed in the call center for about four or five years, and I was suffering really badly with back pain, cuz no matter. How big the monitor, they try to give me and only some of 'em actually did give me a bigger monitor. I, I still sit so close to my computer. It's the glare in what I try to do. I will always lean forward. It's just to see. So I didn't wanna use screen readers. I didn't wanna use adjustments because I didn't even know what adjustment was. Nobody told me I could get adjustments. Nobody had told me what they could do. So I just struggled on and. Left call center after call center. The doctor told me I should stop working because it's just not good for my back. And I was like, okay. So I shouldn't work in an office. What do you want me to do? I just stopped working. He go on benefits. And I was like, no, I'm not doing that. didn't do that there. I went off and sick a few times, move back home. It was, my employment was colorful and I didn't know my rights. I didn't know that I was entitled adjustments. I didn't know that I was being discriminated against. And there was an instance with, one of my employers who. I was having back problems with call center. And again, quite a big employer. I was having problems, with my back is waiting for adjustments. I told reasons at bad eyesight. and I actually told them it was registered blind and waiting for the adjustments took four or five months. By the time I got my adjustments they weren't right. Cause the systems had been updated. So I needed new adjustments and it was a night when I remember manager saying to me, you smoke. that's why you're back. I was just like, it's not do my back. I have a bad back because I don't have a chair that supports me. I have a tiny monitor. It's not adjustable arm. Like I'm struggling to do my job. Oh no, but you just being dramatic about the whole thing. And I actually ended up walking out crying and I can remember coming back in. I got disciplined because I was upset because apparently I was aggressive of being upset and I like, what do you mean? I walked out of room crying, but I was aggressive. Partly cause a man crying is aggressive. and then. Same thing kinda happened in other places, all call centers. And it was just, nobody cared. You know what I mean? Nobody really stopped to say, how can we support you? Or, we can get adjustments. but when I was working for this employer, they. Basically left me no choice, but to contact the quality commission. so I contacted them They told me my rights and a phone call. And I was like, oh my God, I've been discriminated against my whole life. And I didn't know this. why did nobody tell me this? Teaching me this, a young person, disability? Why is there no information about this? Why are we not supporting people leaving education with disability? Like you? Why did I have to find this at myself at 25, 26? and then I got a new job, which was. Quite a big, employer within the UK. it was really gonna be a really great job cause we were actually asking for people with disabilities to apply. And I applied through this agency and the agency assured me. Yeah. I told them I was registered blind. I actually cried to the girl when I was at the interview. Cause I just. So frustrated. I was at the end of my tether. I didn't think I was going anywhere. And I told the girl how I was ready to blind. Just wanted a job. I just wanted to be able to buy a house or save and buy nice things. Cause I'd never been able to do that. And she was like, we'll support you. No problem. Given the job and it was great. The treatment was really good. Giving me all my handouts. Like I said was great. They didn't gimme enlarged handout, so I couldn't read them, but thankfully I can make notes beside them. So I couldn't report, I could greet it to me later, but, in that job, it was cleared for the first three weeks of between four weeks of treat. And then when I got out on the floor, I had no adjustments. And then there was a fight between the agency and the place, the employer. Who should be paying for my adjustments this top, this went on for weeks and I was off. I was taking like 24 tablets a day. I was taking anti, inflammatories. I was taking pain killers. I was taking my, I can't remember what the tablet was for my depression at the time. Like I was on all these different tablets and having to take my amount of time. And how to go off and leave. And there was rumors going around. One of the managers started to rumor saying was really dramatic because he's disabled. And if you don't give him what he needs, you'll take you to court. And I was just like, where did this come from? So there was these rumors going around with me and I was gonna quit. And my partner kinda said, you can't give up. You can't put yourself through this. Can't keep running away when things like this happen. So stay at the job. Things were. Actually, so if they were accessible and I just got with it for three years and cause they gave me a bigger monitor and I like, I've got a bigger monitor, I've got a headset. I can do my job. I can take calls and that's it. And the systems thankfully were easy enough. I could just zoom in on them. But then my manager left and things of changed when she left. There was a lot of managements who didn't understand my disability. They would make comments about it. They would call me the blinf boy. They would ask me why I was helping other people, because why would you help you? Can't see. I was overlooked because apparently a disabled person can't work as well as a non disabled person. and when I choose to tell people, I couldn't see a presentation or something, they would be like, can you see from here? And I take a sleep and physically put it in front of the room and be like, can you see from here? Can you see from here? Can you see from here? Yeah. And I got another child. If I told you I can't see them while sitting in that room from a tiny screen, take me in my words. So ended up leaving because it just became too much. And that's when I came into my current. Again, I took you round my whole life story here.

Scott Whitney:

I'm gonna go back to, to one of the things you said right at the beginning of that, your first two kind of call center roles. you, you said that they seemed really excited because they haven't got anyone with a disability working there. Do you think that influenced their hiring decision?

Jamie Shields:

Oh, yeah. Like when it comes, say DEI, to me is only something I've heard, like the D's diversity equity inclusion is the latest buzz within businesses the past couple of years. And it's only really kicked. There's only really kicked into gears since, George Floyd. So it's only, we kicked into gears since then, where businesses have really haven't to pay more attention to it and actually talk about it. Whereas before business. They talked about diversity. Diversity was the big word either. We want diversity to staff. We want equality. When we now know now you can't have the equality without equity yeah. and that so many Southwest came around D and I, the past few years, but see, before that there like companies having somebody who's disabled was like a tech bot. And I used to call myself the diversity hire. Cause I could say I was gay and I could say I was disabled and companies get excited with that there. And I think it was kind like a buzz to them was the stuff from Chinese knew. And, oh my goodness, we can live this after our HR teams, but. There's a difference between hiring and disabled people with disabilities, there's a difference in retaining us because if you're bringing this in through their job and you haven't got adjustment process, you aren't making us aware for adjustments we can have. You're not making us aware that, we're actually entitled these adjustments and you should be providing them. If you haven't got people. Rapid across your business of disability back then, there was none of that. It was very much that you were still token for them to chew off to HR, to too off to pat have managers, but visited managers. and like I can remember manager been introduced to manager like this is Jamie and he's blind. So he is, and I think they of looked at me, said, he can't be blind. He is looking back at me. do you know what I mean? So I think it was very tokenistic. And then. There was times I was absolutely refused a job because, oh, you don't drive. And I can't explain. I disabled. I can't actually drive. I'm registered blind legally I'd be on the curb and there would be desk and it wouldn't be good for anybody, but it was, it's just tokenistic back then. And it was rare to find an employer who wanted use your token. But when it did happen, it was almost as bad as being discriminated against. So it was because it's it's almost like you're petty or you're their object to kinda. Make them look good to her manager when really they're not really supporting you. Yeah.

Scott Whitney:

I've managed in call centers. and that wasn't, as far back as when you was working in them, but I was working in offices, which had a pretty much a call center set up with less staff and, going through interview process, training, supporting other managers with training and their hiring process as well. Yeah. I, I know that it's not a hard thing to, to be able to support someone with any disability or neurodiversity. And that's why I was interested in think in wondering what your take was on whether it was a, a token hire or because how I heard it was. if they wanted to invest in you and you know this now, they would've been asking you at that interview. What do we need to have at your desk on day one for you to do the

Jamie Shields:

job? I guess it, I think that's, what's, that's, what's missing even now. And I think the landscape of, for disability, for somebody who hears a job, seek with disability, I think the landscape has changed drastically over the past few years. And I think working for AMS or working with a recruitment, I've been able to see what really good looks like. And I've been able to experience what really bad looks like in. I think that I think gives me my kinda. I always say like my anger from the past. Cause I, I think sometimes I talk about my past. It sounds like I'm angry about it. And I'm like, I am very angry about it, but the way that I channel that is in my work. And I think about the barrier that I face, I'm like, how do we fix off somebody else? And then when I speak to somebody else here, there are borrows. I'm like, how do we fix off feed? And I think that's what it's done now that I've got this empowerment. And I say empowerment because I find my voice in my disability at AMS. Like before I would never have said I'm disabled. I would never said up a disability. I hated being called special. I hated it still don't like being called special, but, I have a disability, but I'm disabled by society with my previous employer who disabled me. I have a whole additional skill set. if I'm in a shop and I can't see something, I'll use my phone to zoom in. If I'm in the house and I can't see something on the TV, I'll zoom in and trust. I, we watch lot of rings and I've how to zoom in for some, not lot of rings, even Thrones. They'll terrible to mix them up. but I've had to be zoom in and, that's something that my partner and I does when he's out bar, I zooms in and even my computer as well that I do things are ways I make trackers are really a lot more accessible for me and people want to use it as well. I'm just like, We have all this additional skills that when we stop and think about, okay, if we have the time to go somewhere, we plan like it's a military operations over day. It's just You, we sure. Usually you have to make sure there's, access. You have to make sure that you're gonna be able to get on a train and a train. And if you're get a train and you have make sure all these things accessible. If I go somewhere, I have to ring up and make sure there's like somebody there to support me. I've been putting the wrong lot and wrong train. And so many times by, the people working there, but. We really have to plan at the military operation. Those are skills. We have all those skills. And as well as that, we have one of the biggest skills I think out there of anybody in the world. And that is, we have persevered. We struggle daily with accessibility, with lack of understanding employers, talk and talk about inclusion, but we persevere through it. We will stay in that job because it's better to have a job than not have one. It's better to reach hard to work than having to live in a benefit. Cause we know benefits still don't pay enough. There's 11 crisis coming up with benefits. Absolutely shocking. And the opportunities for people with disability. it's always much, very much yes, we wanna hire disabled people, but we aren't doing hundred them disabled pay gaps. There is lack of representation. And I think for me, what employers need to do is literally look at that additional skill that we. They need to look at all those additional skills, somebody using a screen reader. That's amazing because that person can go and proofread that be that screen reader. Doesn't just benefit that one person, the team, it can benefit anybody else or somebody who's neuro divergent. There's a whole different. Set skills. I think that we miss out on and that's something I've been able to advocate in my work. And it's something I say that even the valuable 500 of June business disability form, all those big names and disability, all the advocate for it. Jane Hatton From even brick. she was one who kind talked to me, but this here, and it actually led me to think, I am disabled by society. We're disabled by society and we need to change that. We need to start making and training people how to be more accessible, how to be more inclusive and training employers, not in training, teaching employers, that they need people who lived experience leading these training sessions on disability or neurodiversity because years ago it was. A person with non disability stand and telling me as a disabled person, how to treat me. And it's just like, why is that? that is still here. We still have people who don't understand what they experience, but don't get me wrong. It's amazing advocate. So Ally's doing a really great job, but if you are coming from the right place and a lot of businesses get this wrong so much, they don't come from the right place. They come from as a business process. Oh, this is a process. we have to think of our cost. We have to think of that. A, B, C, D. You could get that a person at the, on the end, you've probably applied for twice as many jobs, if not more than everybody else plan. And it's probably more box and not day than anybody's taught in the whole year. So for me, like we have to look at additional skills and recognize so much more talent with those with disability that we just don't recognize.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah, definitely. so looking at, how, when we first met. I didn't meet you thinking you was a chubby unicorn I didn't meet you thinking you was another animal either, but it was another animal that kind of, was when we started speaking a lot more because I saw a lot of your posts, about camel's yes. In fact camel case. So what is camel case?

Jamie Shields:

So camel case is when you use a capital letter for each new word in a hashtag. So if you are doing like hashtag dirt, you'll do D as a capital. And then I as a capital. So do, and it's called camel case because it's almost like humps in the camel's back the capital and then the gap, then the capital, and then the gap. And what that essentially does is it's imports people using screen readers. Screen reader. If it's a long hashtag will mix up that word, it'll start shooting at random ladders. It'll get completely confused. And it's not a great user experience. That's not only blind people or virtually part people who use screen readers, people, cognitive disabilities. Use it. People who are your divergent, a whole range people, as well as our common case, just it annoys the screen readers, but it's also really terrible to the cuff somebody revision impairment. So I have some. I don't wanna go through LinkedIn using my screen reader, having to tap through LinkedIn. Its not enjoyable. I dunno if anyone else's other does, it's not enjoyable. So I wanna be able to use my phone or I wanna be able to use my computer probably not by successfully, but I wanna be able to do. When I come across hashtags and there's low zoom, or if I wanna find something through a hashtag, I cannot find it because it's not accessible. I don't know what that said. So you almost play Scrabble in your head to try to work out what this says. And then if you think of somebody with dyslexia, look like that happen and Scrabble all these random letters. And, I posted about it today. I post about it every Wednesday. I'm about a week away. actually it was about two weeks away ago from finding a real camel. I wanna find a real camel because I'm really trying to drive this home. And in the past two weeks, I've really seen momentum where people are starting to make the capitals in the hashtags because it just supports so many more people. And when you think about it as well, when you use a hashtag it's open to interpretation and I posted it this today, Susan Boyle. Who Britains got talent singer absolutely loves Susan. SU Bo I do love her, but her marketing team did this, hashtag, which was said, Susan's album party. Now I'm not gonna tell you what that said, if you seen that written down paper or go look at my like di post, you'll see it. it's opened interpretation and it was interpreted as a bum party, essentially. and it wasn't, so it wasn't for her. So what they ended up having to do, is they had to kind apologize and redo it, but that's opened interpretation. So not only is it better clear, a more visually pleased to every user, but it supports those with a diversity into disabilities. It's only one of many tips that you can use online. And it's where the biggest gap is. I think in disability at the moment is marketing teams don't use them. They don't use ALT text, which is text describes images. They don't use close captions, which is tax, which translates all spoken words, side notation to a video they don't offer. trying think I here call a contrast, pictures. The contrast of the right on top of them. Isn't great. posters design to terrible classroom colors. You can't read it. There's quite a few advocates at the moment to actually use pastel colors on top of pastel colors, which is completely unaccessible. So the may ICEP back sometimes. And this is prompted me to start posting about this stuff. Is. Include DEI. So the diversity inclusion that I is inclusion, right? People want a, to be audited. So to be D I a or two D, or just move these letters around doing your acronym. But to me, I'm like, do we need the, a, I'll take, if it means people's gonna be more accessible and think about accessibility, but inclusion to me is included. Everybody's been inclusive. And when your content or your marketing or your recruitment or whatever you're doing as a business or an individual is accessible, you're creating barriers. And when you think about how many barriers me or you have face to day alone, why do you wanna add that? You know what I mean? So by taking these simple steps, It will make a difference and yes, it can be annoying if you have to go back and spell check a hashtag, I ranch to blind. If I don't have to go back and do it and use a keyboard to dirt, there's no excuse why somebody would know disability. Can't do it. So take those few extra moments and really it does really support everybody.

Scott Whitney:

I'll tell you what I'm really frustrates me about, camel casing. And you're talking about society. Disabling as opposed to the disability disabling and. A lot of the social media programs. I dunno if it's all, but I know LinkedIn definitely does. You start typing your hashtag in camel case and it comes up on the dropdown, you select it and it takes it out of camel case. And that's something that to me, I then think right now I've got to go in and do something that I shouldn't have to, and I'm not doing. for yourself or other people with visual impairment, I doing it cuz it's the right thing to do, but LinkedIn's making me do it.

Jamie Shields:

same as every platform does it, it reverted always back like do platform actually does give you choice is Twitter. And if enough people on Twitter have used, camel care, soft tag, it does come up in the options. It's not very many to be fair, there's some there, platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook and social media. Any kinda social media platform now, really they all do the same thing businesses do. they sometimes talk this, talk about inclusion and, oh, we're the most accessible platform. And to me, the most accessible platform at the moment is Twitter. When you post a photo, it'll tell you need to add alt text. And they did that because only zero point think it was 0.06% of images on their hard all text. So those people using screen readers have no clue ups going on. And like, when you think about That's a massive group of customers, you're missing out money, candidates, clients, friends, followers, whatever you're doing online, you're missing out. So for me, I it's so easy to. It's something that I would love to see taught in school. we get taught computer lessons in school, like ICT or wording was the one I hated most. We have to learn touch type. when you think about the classes, why aren't we teaching, how to do that online? Kids, when they come to do their GCSE are all on curricular or something. Anyway, why don't we teach in a class in there and how to be more inclusive? Why are we not. Looking at how do we teach next generation to be more accessible? Because when you ask any adult now why they don't wanna do it? It's cuz it's unintentional. they aren't to wear. And unless you make people aware, they're not gonna change. And that's why I always try to hashtag be the change I can't remember what, just again, this one of 15 people I think is dyslexic. when you think about people with taxi as well, You think about people caus disabilities, the number of people who you're at impacting with inaccessibility. And if you just one person changes. It doesn't seem meaning you're helping so many other people. And when you look at the big people on LinkedIn and social media, that influences the content creators, they're the ones who need to be driving this because they're the ones that people see during it will change. And one personn say I approached about it was Lea Turner on LinkedIn. And if anyone's on LinkedIn, doesn't know Lea Turner, where if you based as the queen of LinkedIn, she's incredible. She talked about your brand on the LinkedIn and. I message her like, Hey, look, I love your content. Cause I really do, like when she post, I get all excited, like I said, down in the mornings where I'm morning smoke it. but I said, look, can you change your hashtags? Because when I get to your post, I don't know what you're doing. Hashtags. Aren't just there reinforce your post. People use that and Instagram to find things on LinkedIn to find things or on Twitter to find things. If they don't know what that says, they're not gonna know what they're gonna looking. Lea changed it. So she did. And to this day she has stuck back, whereas I've messaged other people with quite big followings and they haven't did anything. I asked, I was asked recently by somebody who is a. Content creators business salesperson. And they're looking me on about accessibility and I love the person, the content's great, but they've told me so many times I'm gonna be accessible and I asked them and they don't do it. So I'm like, I'm not gonna come on your show and talk about what I do in accessibility or inclusion because you're not listening and you're not gonna. I have this thing about profit and disabled people sometimes. And I'm like, just because you see somebody who is doing well at the moment, you think you're gonna change your whole appear your whole attitude about this. Okay. You're not gonna make a difference. Cause I've asked you so many times. Do you know what I mean? It's. Don't be tokenistic when it comes to either dirt or don't and then don't try to promote off it. So I know it sounds really harsh, but, and I'm sorry if that person hears, but it is, to me, I said no, because there was gonna be no captions on the video and I'm like, hi, can you ask me to come talk about accessibility and not be accessible? That's tokenistic. Yeah, And I think that's do you know when you weigh and you were told every day, learn day, every day is a school day. You to roll your eyes back. Oh my God. Stop. But every day's not as an you learn. Every day actually is a school day, cuz you're constantly learning. You're constantly having to learn, especially when you're working with a disability. I tell everybody, like somebody says to me, I don't know how to pronounce or I don't know how to say this, or I don't know to use the word disabled disability. And I'm like, it's a mind field. there is so much uniqueness and authenticity to people. People will prefer one thing one day and next year. Not like it. when you think about people's sanity, how they choose to express a disability. Like I didn't express. So was, I was disabled now I did say it'd be fine. Somebody might give us and be like, why is he called me disabled? is this my identity? I dunno, forcing somebody else. And this is why I advocate with people first language, but we all learn language evolves, people evolve, we evolve. And I think that. Once you learn, we have to then start education because that's how you keep the message going. We have to keep communicating. But calling I all text that lesson is people don't know, some people call it ID image description. And like to me, image description, no text. Do some things. Image description tells you what an image is. People will say ID. And this is what the image is. All text describes in detail. It is so there's all these different variations of it. But for me, I'm. That, whatever you call it, as long as it's there, it needs to be there. Cuz otherwise you just put up texts for the go website. Yeah.

Scott Whitney:

Cause I put, quite a bit of my ALT text just to make it really stand out at the bottom of posts on LinkedIn, because then it's. It's showing other people that it's there. Yeah. we're gonna start to, to wrap up, if you could make one change to society, what would it.

Jamie Shields:

Easy. I, it stop segregating young people. When they're disabled, why do you ship us off to special classes or special skills? When you go to work, you don't be put in a special work class. You don't be put segregated. If you did that to an adult. You would be, that would be discrimination. Why do we discriminate young people by putting them into special needs classes or special education? Yes, I appreciate we may sometimes need special support, but there's a difference between six being segregated for that. I lost a lot of my confidence because of special education, not just cuz I left it, but also because I was so wrapped up in cotton wall, I was so unprepared for the real world. We don't prepare young, disabled people to come into the world. There's such a gap out there to support young people. And for me, my change would be stops aggregating because we teach children or young people in SAC school creates classes. We teach them how to go into the world to be, do you know what I mean? we've prepare them a little bit better than we prepare children with disability. I feel, things may have changed, but, from people I speak to it hasn't really much changed because kids have still been segregated. We need to stop segregating. We need to teach young people about accessibility in school. We need to teach. 'em how to be better allies. We need to stop having a one off workshop a year around being LGQ plus, or being neuro diverse or being disabled. We need to stop one off events and make it a permanent thing and measure it. How do you measure that? And that's why I'm actually really excited for the potato. My podcast, I've looked, as I said, inclusivi t, I have a sponsor who actually works within education and that's one of my driving forces for it is there's such a gap. If I have to consider every school in the us, then the UK, then they me then APAC across the world to take a program. I will do it. I will bring everybody on for the journey, but I think that we need to start educating young people. To be more inclusive.

Scott Whitney:

Yeah. And if we end that segregation, you look at the ripple effects. I love ripple effects. So number one, you're teaching the other people in the class about someone with a disability and instantly, then they're starting to learn. if it's myself, what types, my access into a room, if it's yourself, they're looking about accessibility and you then looking at that potential mental health gap when you're starting to get flooded in. And, and it's, there's just so many benefits.

Jamie Shields:

And, one of the things out, like we all hear, I think we all hear, oh, it's a good, it's the right thing to do. You know what I mean? oh, it's three inclusive the right thing. And I always think, yes, it is the right thing to do, but it's also value in it. There is value in learning difference. how people would, same disability will never have the same experience. People with the same condition or similar conditions will never have the same lived experience. Everybody is so unique to their own lived experience, rather you're disabled or not. We know disability impacts. up to 15% of the population that was percent adjust earlier, disability affect our percent of the world's population. we're 1.2 billion. I think it is at the moment. And as the numbers just grow on, if you look at COVID long COVID disability, the number of people with disability is impacted and 80% of us will be impacted in our lifetime. So for me, I'm like, yes, it's the right thing to do, but there's value in learning and educating because at one point in your life and through long disability or temporary disability, A permanent disability. you're potentially gonna be impacted to somebody, So why wouldn't you wanna do this now? Why are you waiting until you're in that position? if I could go back hour and teach myself that and be able to advocate sooner for accessibility. Oh my goodness. I would've done it thousand times over.

Scott Whitney:

So thank you everybody for tuning in and listen. We will be back in two weeks. Remember the schedule has changed from weekly to fortnightly and, thank you very much for listening and Jamie, thank you

Jamie Shields:

for coming. Thank you.