We use cookies to ensure that we can give you the best user experience. By continuing to use our website you are consenting to their use. Find out more.

What language do you need?

Members Experience

My name is Wendy. I’ve worked full time as a General Assistant in a large supermarket for over 14 years. I work on the checkouts, self-scan and the kiosk. 

Almost five years ago I was diagnosed with age-related macular disease which affects the middle part of my vision. Since receiving the diagnosis I’ve lost 70% of sight in my right eye. As this is a degenerative condition my sight is deteriorating gradually. I currently regularly switch between three pairs of glasses – one pair for distance, another for close up and another pair for everything in between.

Unless I am using my cane, which is mainly for outdoor issue and not for when I’m at home or moving around in store, you wouldn’t know I was partially sighted. The fact that you can’t tell that I’m disabled by looking at me sometimes means others don’t believe that I’ve lost my sight or they assume that my sight loss isn’t as serious as it is. Customers have made hurtful remarks when I’ve explained I’m visually impaired – saying things like ‘well if that’s the case you shouldn’t be working’ or ‘you should have gone to SpecSavers’.

However I’m happy to say that my store manager and my Union have been very supportive. They have taken action to remove the barriers that get in the way of me doing my job and getting active in the Union. The adjustments they’ve made aren’t complicated or particularly expensive. Examples of things they’ve done include buddying me up with someone when I’m in a new environment, sending someone to greet me at the train station when travelling to a union event, giving me time to familiarise myself with any changes to the store layout, and allowing me to move from the checkout to other roles within store when I become tired and start to lose concentration. 

With the help and financial assistance from Access to Work and a sight loss charity my employer has ordered a new 3D headset for when I am on the checkout. I’m not 100% sure about this yet. It is pretty clunky and I don’t want to be asked loads of intrusive questions or receive unwanted attention from colleagues and customers about it. Together, me, my employer and Usdaw are thinking about how we can let colleagues know what it is and why I’m wearing it or maybe even think about some basic visual awareness training so that people understand what it’s like to live and work with sight loss.

I’m happy to say that just before lockdown I became an Usdaw Rep and I’ve just completed my shop steward training. I don’t want to pretend that it’s been easy coming to terms with my sight loss. It hasn’t, but the biggest obstacle isn’t my impairment but the negative beliefs and stereotypes other people hold about blind and partially sighted people and disabled people more generally. Usdaw’s hidden disability campaign is a great way to educate colleagues and customers about what it’s like to live with a disability and raise awareness of the important rights at work disabled people have.

Free prize draw

Enter our free prize draw to win a £100 Love2Shop Gift Voucher courtesy of Shepherds Friendly

The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers