Jacqui Bury

How I’m gaining confidence at work after sharing my disability story 

Jacqui BuryFor International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Jacqui Bury from the Digital Recruitment team at DWP Digital shares her experience and highlights the importance of the day.

Being dyslexic is challenging and I have to work in different ways and find it that little bit harder to achieve what I need to achieve.

I didn’t tell my family, friends or employer about my dyslexia for a long time as I was so embarrassed and at first I didn’t know or understand what it was. Sad, I know, and it really is not my fault. I did not want people to treat me differently or to think that I wasn’t able.

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. The condition stems from differences in parts of the brain that process language. Dyslexics have excellent thinking skills in the areas of conceptualization, reason, imagination, and abstraction. Dyslexia comes in many different forms and I know that I am lucky as my dyslexia is not as bad as some peoples who have a lot more difficulty than me.

You can learn more about dyslexia here: What is dyslexia? – Kelli Sandman-Hurley – YouTube

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses

Being Dyslexic I benefit from understanding my own individual learning style and pattern of strengths and weaknesses. That way, I can study and work in a way which is most likely to be successful. I have strategies appropriate to my learning style.

I have always been a very confident person and hate to let people think, just because my brain processes things differently, that I am not able to do what people without the disability can do.

How my dyslexia affect’s me

When I’m reading I’m great with the first few words, but after than all the letters and words start to move. This can be very challenging. However, on a positive, I do get to read a few words before it goes this way, I see this as a positive as at least it’s not like it with every word.

Another way dyslexia affects me is when information is read out, it takes a little longer for me, compared to others to digest and understand. This is because information is slower to get to the other side of my brain which means I can miss some information.

When things are verbally explained and shown to me at the same time this really makes a massive difference as I can pick things up so much easier.

One of the other things I struggle with is spelling. I can spell, however again the dyslexia can confuse me and sometimes I even struggle with basic words. This can be frustrating, again I have to just try and see the positive side.

My day-to-day challenges

One of my biggest challenges is not being fast enough, and others noticing this, this makes me self-conscious. Also, not understanding what is being asked, this frustrates me as I know I am able, however the dyslexia stop me, so I can take a little longer to understand something that other people will take.

I currently use Read Write Gold (RWG) which is a fantastic tool and this really helps me to do my job daily. There are so many tools I can use with the RWG, the main ones I use include the reading tools, it can read when I am typing, this is fantastic as I hear each word as I type so I know if I’ve typed an incorrect word. I can also use it to read all my messages in everything I use, for example: emails, internet, excel, words docs.

Throughout my life I have struggled with my perceptions of people thinking I am thick and not able, and this affected my confidence. I had counselling to support me on how to share my difficulty in telling people I am dyslexic. I found this difficult as I was embarrassed, and I did not want people to think I could not do my job. Or when I was with my friends, for them to think she is thick, tough I know, however this is how it makes me feel.

I used to cover up my condition and use excuses by saying things, such as I haven’t got my glasses with me, or I’d just hide away in the back in case someone said can you read this to me.

The counsellor was fantastic and gave me coping strategies to help me deal with sharing my difficulty with people. One of the first tasks she gave me was how to share that I’m dyslexic with my colleagues at work. Again, this was hard as I’m aware of people judging me on it. I did share my condition with my colleagues in a team meeting and all of them were great and very supportive apart from one person. Not bad for a team of 12.

I’m proud to say that now I have addressed the issue of telling people my life is definitely so much better.

DWP Digital really does let me be me and I’m proud to work here, I feel supported as an individual with a disability and my colleagues really try to be inclusive to each other, which again does make me proud.

Once I know what I am doing, I strive on giving my best, I feel this is a massive strength of mine. I’m gaining more confidence, for example I recently spoke at a management team meeting. There was over 100 people on the call, which was scary however it was great to share my story and a big step for me – I even put my camera on. The support messages I received were amazing and made me feel good.

I can honestly say now, I am no longer embarrassed and it’s a great place to be. Just being my lovely self.

If you’re interested in working in a team where everyone is valued, have a look at the current career opportunities on the DWP Digital Careers site.