Having never worked with a person who is blind before, Jack Marquardson was initially apprehensive. But he not only discovered that was unwarranted, he also found the experience rewarding.
Marquardson, manager of writing services in the communications branch of the Manitoba government, has worked with Scott Best for 18 months as his supervisor. Best, 27, was born with retinopathy of prematurity and lost his remaining vision by age three.
"I've learned a lot from Scott about patience and overcoming barriers. And I've learned that a person who is blind can do almost anything a sighted person can do, albeit a bit differently,” Marquardson says.
Best was hired through the Gateway placement and referral program for members of employment equity groups.
At first, Marquardson felt uneasy about how to address Best's sight issues in the workplace.
"I was worried that I would say or do something that was offensive to Scott. I was also concerned about Scott's ability to do the job and whether his blindness would limit his effectiveness, which could be a big problem, especially during periods with a heavy workload,” he says.
But he found the opposite.
"After working with Scott for just a few short weeks, I quickly learned he was every bit as capable as our other writers and his blindness was pretty much a non-issue,” Marquardson says.
The only accommodations needed for Best’s office were a braille printer and Jaws software, allowing him to use his computer through a text-to-speech output.