Michael overcomes sight loss to thrive in the world of work

Michael Jackman has been a reliable worker at Oxfordshire County Council for 44 years despite having had sight loss since birth and needing a magnifier or large print to be able to read and requiring a stick to help him navigate steps.

He has worked for County Print Finishers since 1978. It is a part of Oxfordshire Employment, an organisation operated by the county council that provides services to the printing industry. It can trace its roots back through seven decades and provides adults who may otherwise find it difficult to gain employment with a pathway in to the world of work. Employees then acquire essential skills and can begin to build a career for themselves.

Back in the 70s Michael found the role with the help of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). He’s had a number of responsibilities such as collating, packing, and general factory duties.

Michael said: “Having a high-quality magnifier helps me with my work, while red walkways and grey working areas marked out on the floor have given me so much more confidence getting around. People have consistently gone out of their way to help me do my job.”

The RNIB recently recognised County Print Finishers for support for people like Michael with sight loss - obtaining its ‘Visibly Better’ standard.

The employer standard recognises inclusive attitudes, practices and environments, all of which enable County Print Finishers to employ people with significant sight loss and support them to live independently.

Up to one in 20 people will experience significant sight loss during their careers, and just one in 10 of these will stay in their careers. Only one in four people with sight loss of working age are employed.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “I was extremely pleased to hear County Print Finishers has been recognised by the RNIB for its support to help those with sight loss stay in work. Michael is a credit to the organisation and his long-service is a prime example of the difference the right kind of support can make to visually impaired people. Well done to all involved.”

Will Gardner, Team Manager at County Print Finishers, said: “With his vast experience in the role, Michael has been a real asset to the County Print Finishers team. He’s an expert in packing and we can always rely on him to be on hand to help his colleagues to do a good job.

“We are delighted to have received such prestigious recognition from the RNIB for our work in supporting visually impaired people like Michael. We hope now to use this extra resource to support more people across the council who are visually impaired.”

Want to work?

County Print Finishers offers paid work placements to develop work skills and experience in preparation for external employment, and forms part of the wider Oxfordshire Employment Service.

Oxfordshire employment offers support to anyone who has barriers to gaining employment. If you are interested in learning more, residents can contact the service about being referred.

Further information can be found on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

Click Sign up to hear from us and receive the latest news and updates thanks to our fortnightly newsletter, Your Oxfordshire.