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Disability Narratives

Jo has experienced different management styles. She found it important to develop the confidence to ask for reasonable adjustments from her managers, because there is equipment to help with every physical need.

Portrait of Jo© Disability Narratives


at the time of the interview – 2016

Jo is a marketing and programme administrator at the Said Business School.
She is married with no children. Ethnic Background/Nationality:
White British.

Extended biography

at the time of the interview - 2016

Jo is the marketing and programme administrator for the 10,000 Small Businesses programme, which is run through the Entrepreneur Centre at the Said Business School since April 2016. Jo previously worked as a business development administrator for the executive education open programmes team for three years.

Jo has Mucopolysaccharidosis IV (four), sometimes known as MPS IV or Morquio syndrome, which is a genetic condition that mainly affects the skeleton. Jo said the main issue she faces at work is that she is in a wheelchair and that, as some joints are very lax, it can mean she gets repetitive strain easily when she writes. However, Jo uses a smaller keyboard and a special mouse, which helps prevent these problems.

Jo also has hearing loss in both ears and wears hearing aids. She has had to ask IT Services to provide special land and mobile phones that have the t-loop system built in, so they work with her hearing aids. Jo recalled that she had to do much of the work to find and secure the purchase of the phones, as this software was unfamiliar to IT Services. The t-loop system is also available in the bigger rooms and lecture halls, which helps when Jo is in meetings.

Jo's previous role was based outside of Oxford at Egrove Park. Her time there provided a number of contrasts. This included the difference between the buildings she worked in. The Said building is one of the newer buildings and this means that it was built with certain access provisions in mind. The doors are automated and she also has a 'clicker' that opens those that are not. Jo said she works on the ground floor, but there are easily accessible lifts when she needs them. The building at Egrove Park was built in the 1970s and is listed. This meant that there were difficulties in getting a stair lift installed. As it is based in the country the paths and roads could be difficult to navigate in her chair, especially in the winter.


the social model [is] the world makes me disabled, as opposed to my condition making me disabled.

Jo has had varied experiences with managers. She found that the manager who recruited her was more accepting of her condition and any adjustments she required. However, if managers changed when she was in a role the incoming manager would sometimes struggle to make reasonable adjustments. She advised that new managers should talk to any disabled staff in their charge and make themselves familiar with the relevant legislation and guidance, as well as any reasonable adjustments that might be made available.

Jo has had poor experiences in previous organisations she has worked for, finding that while some people would act within the legislation, they would not always be nice about doing so. However, this is not an experience Jo has had at the University, where she has felt treated more as a person and a human being.

Jo's advice to other disabled people is to contact both the Staff Disability Advisor and to join a union. They can help with knowing what is available and ensuring the adjustments are put in place.

Biography at the time of the interview - 2016