The Disability Discrimination Act requires employers to make adjustments that will help people who stammer overcome barriers to employment. Here, John Mann describes how his employer went beyond the call of duty.
I work for Charing Cross Housing Association, a small community based housing association in Glasgow. My job involves a lot of verbal communication which includes phone calls, dealing with queries and complaints, attending project meetings and representing the Association at tenant and resident meetings.
I manage our property management service and I am progressing a number of new-build housing and rehabilitation projects so there is a high level of responsibility and a great many tasks to perform.
My employers have always been very supportive of me and they have an effective staff appraisal system in place. They are always keen to provide training and assistance to employees and there is an annual training budget.
At a staff appraisal meeting with my boss a few years ago I asked if it would be possible to go on a non-NHS speech therapy course with the Association paying the fees. I explained that it may help my own personal development and improve my performance at work. They agreed to pay the fees, although they said that I would need to use some annual leave or time off in lieu to attend the course as it was to be held during office hours. When they saw how the speech therapy course helped me, they also paid for me to go to the BSA conference in Liverpool in 2001.
This year the Association kindly agreed to pay my fees and travel expenses for the conference. As far as I am aware there has been no resentment or comments from other members of staff. Anyone else who has asked for specific training has been given the green light from what I know. They agreed with me that it is like any other employee training - that attendance at the conference will aid my personal development and I will learn new ways to improve my speech, attitude to stammering and confidence that will be beneficial in an employment situation.
From the Autumn 2004 edition of Speaking Out