Blindness no barrier to employment for Osborne Park woman

Katalina Lavaka of Osborne Park.
Katalina Lavaka of Osborne Park.

OSBORNE Park woman Katalina Lavaka says vision impairment should not be a barrier to employment

The 26-year-old, who is legally blind, started an administration traineeship with MercyCare last year and now works part-time at its Mirrabooka office.

Ms Lavaka said she was thrilled someone had given her a chance, after spending many years seeking employment.

“If I can give employers any advice, I encourage them to give people with a disability an opportunity to show what they are capable of, because we are capable of the same things as anybody else, we just have to do it a little differently,” she said.

“For example, at MercyCare, we have had to make small changes to my workstation like putting strips of Velcro on my keyboard to assist in typing and using specialised software to help me read the screen.”

She previously worked in an administration role until four years ago, when she began to lose her sight and was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa.

Ms Lavaka had to give up her position and spent the next three years applying for several jobs a day.

“The constant rejection from employers was so hard to deal with that eventually I hit rock bottom,” she said.

“I felt that employers just could not look past my disability to see what value I could add to their organisations.”

She sought advice from a disability services provider and finally landed the traineeship.

MercyCare acting chief executive David Holden said Ms Lavaka was a valued member of the team and praised her professional approach and willingness to contribute.

He said the organisation found employees with disabilities were highly motivated, had comparable productivity and generally longer tenure than those without a disability.