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Global Accessibility Awareness Day
On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the Press is delighted to share an article from Khadija Raza about her recent work experience at the Press:
I am a student in my final year, studying politics at Royal Holloway, University of London. I'm also visually impaired. During this Easter break, I was given the opportunity to complete a week's work experience with the Cambridge Core team at Cambridge University Press.
As a person who is blind, I found the working world to be very intimidating due to the disheartening employment prospects for people with disabilities. Additionally, similar to many university students, I was unsure as to what job role I wanted to pursue. I find that when it comes to employment, students have a limited understanding of what their potential career will entail from a 9 – 5 perspective. I therefore became very intrigued with Cambridge University Press, mainly due to the vast range of job roles that resided within one organisation. I hoped that completing work experience with the Press would allow me to gain both confidence and a better understanding of the working world, whilst providing me a greater sense of direction career-wise.
Through the Press's Disability and Neurodiversity Network, I was able to get in contact with the Head of Community Engagement who circulated my CV to various teams in the organization. This led to an opportunity to work with a technology developer for Cambridge Core, whom I helped improve the accessibility of the platform for people with visual impairments. I was very excited to be working in a role that was focused on accessibility as this coincided with the research for my undergraduate dissertation, which addressed accessibility of information for people with visual impairments.
I was made to feel welcome before the work experience placement even began, as I was sent an email with introductions, questions and information. When I came to the office, everyone was very friendly and welcoming. I was given a tour of the building and the museum, which helped with both my interior orientation of the building and gave me an appreciation for the history of the organisation.
I wanted to understand a range of job roles, so my manager arranged for me to meet with multiple people from a wide variety of professions at the Press. This spanned from Scrum Master to customer experience, technology developers to quality assurance, and community engagement to communications. This was interesting as it provided me with a great insight into the internal organisation of such a large company and introduced me to careers that, up to this point, I didn't know existed. I was also able to meet people who were taking part in the Graduate Training Scheme. I learned a lot from these meetings and, as it turns out, they gained a great deal from speaking with me. Many employees were interested in my perspective and experiences as a consumer who belonged to a demographic that, until very recently, had been overlooked.
During this time, I was also working on my own project. This was to give a presentation on how people with visual impairments access and experience technology. I delivered this presentation at the end of my week with the Press. It was a brilliant way to finish my time with the Press as I had become familiar and friendly with the team. The team was very responsive and engaged in the material I covered and made it clear that it was extremely helpful for them to immerse themselves in a disabled person's interaction with their products.
Overall, I had an amazing week at the Press. My short time was truly utilised to its full capacity and I learned so much about how pleasant a workplace can be. It has made me realise that after I graduate, I would really like to work within an office environment. I gained a lot more confidence in my own abilities and know that the people I worked with fully embrace the idea that people with disabilities can carry out tasks to the same high standard as their abled-bodied peers. The team also made me feel invaluable for providing a hugely beneficial outlook and set of skills to their individual and team goals. I would finally like to thank everyone at the Press who spent time with me and made my experience so wonderful.
Photo credit: Alice Tranah