“The third door on the right is mine!”
Sandra works in Switzerland in a client advisory team, mastering tasks with only 20 percent vision
“The telephone is my workplace. I check our client database for clients we haven’t heard from in a year. I call and invite them to UBS for a meeting if they want. The clients are from Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands,” says Sandra. This makes her language skills vital. What sounds simple is full of challenges for her. When she says “I check our client database,” it means that she holds the client list under a camera which magnifies it 12 times on a large screen with extra-large font. Then she dials the number and begins the conversation.
Getting back to work
Sandra landed her job in the team in an extraordinary way. As a young, trained banker, she used to work at the reception and cash desk at another bank. But then her vision steadily deteriorated due to a rare disease. The day came when she couldn’t do her work anymore.
“After an evaluation by my disability insurance, I was put in touch with Obvita, a charitable organization that retrains and integrates visually impaired people, where I embarked upon vocational training.” There Sandra learned how to use visual aids. She completed specialized IT training and practiced via e-learning in her free time. After four months, she was essentially ready for a new job. But she discovered it’s not easy to find one when you have such a severe visual impairment.
Finally, she found the opportunity at UBS. After installing her visual aids, she was ready to get to work. But before Sandra picked up the phone for the first time, she had to complete web based training sessions and tests. Essentially, a perfectly normal process. But a visual impairment gave rise to many new challenges which she rose to, supported by her new team.
“It’s very taxing for my eyes, even with the visual aids, which is why I work part-time,” says Sandra. According to the World Health Organization, her vision of around 20 percent is regarded as blindness: “I can see large objects with a clear contrast relatively well.”
Nevertheless, the qualified banker plans her everyday life independently, even outside of work. She is able to walk around without a white cane. Looking into her piercing blue eyes, you’d never guess she was visually impaired: “Sometimes, I have to have someone read me something from the timetable at the train station.” But then she laughs: “I can’t read the sign on our office door. But now I know that it’s the third door on the right!”
The UBS Foundation for Social Issues and Education is committed to public welfare in Switzerland. Grants are focused on education, qualification and occupational integration for people with disadvantages or special needs. In Eastern Switzerland, the foundation has, for example, been supporting Obvita, the organization of the Eastern Swiss Aid Association for the Blind, with the construction of a new competence center.