International Day of Persons with Disabilities - Joanne

by Joanne Tick, member of RDG's Disability Awareness Network

Hello, my name is Joanne and I’m an Accreditation Analyst at RDG and a member of its Disability Awareness Network.

I have two disabilities which affect my life on a daily basis: I’m dyslexic and have Fibromyalgia (not easy to spell as a dyslexic!)

I didn’t find out that I was dyslexic until I was 42 and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia around the same time.

The biggest issue I have with Dyslexia is not trusting myself, because although my guesstimates feel right, in a work environment where I have responsibility to my colleagues, the business and ultimately our customers, I always need to check with someone that I’m correct.

The biggest element of Fibromyalgia is that its impact can be unpredictable. One day I will feel fine, the next day I can be totally knocked out and can barely walk back to my car from the train station.

I’m aware that these can sound like minor issues in comparison to those of others, and I feel a bit of a fraud at times listing my problems as disabilities. But even if they are invisible, this can have its own disadvantages. And while I notice people trying to think more inclusively, it’s not easy for others to understand if they themselves don’t live it. Indeed, I think there has been a wonderful move towards including everyone over the last few years and I applaud it, but there is still a long way to go for us to see a truly inclusive and equal society which allows everyone the same choices.

Looking at the rail industry, I would like us to continue working together and towards having all-inclusive stations, where everyone can get the train, if they are confident enough to do so, without needing help. It would be marvellous if one day there are push buttons or visual awareness cameras to extend access equipment for at least one carriage on each train. There could be a designated place to wait on the platform, as there is now for manual assistance.

Looking at the way we work, we should be celebrating diversity and remind ourselves of the important role every single one of us has to play within the organisation. We should acknowledge that where some people may not excel in some parts, they may shine in others; or bring a new perspective to the table.

As disabled people, we have to find ways to work around barriers every day, which can have its advantages. For example, part of my role at RDG focuses on reviewing standards. I don’t tend to be too confident about the technical aspect, but by focusing on and querying the detail more than others would as a result of being dyslexic, I ensure standards are correct before these are published.

Having the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to celebrate our differences and bring them to the forefront of people’s minds is a wonderful thing to do. Times are moving on and we need to move with them, be innovative and take advantage of people’s differing views and wide-ranging skillsets to lead by example and in our ambition for a railway that is easy to access and inclusive to all.

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