Source | LinkedIn : By Joy Maitland MIC MGP FIoD FCMI FInstLM FITOL
A diversity expert’s first-hand experience of disability discrimination highlights why barriers of all kinds must come down – quickly
In September 2005, dynamic and successful HR executive Julian John was driving home from work when his world tipped upside down. Pulling over with the distinct feeling that something wasn’t right, Julian worked his way out of his car and collapsed, unable to stand.
“At first I thought it was going to go away,” he tells Inemmo, “and then I realised I had no sense of balance. I went to the doctor, and he told me I had an inner-ear infection that would probably shift in about six weeks. But things got progressively worse. That was the start of me being housebound for the next three-and-a-half years.”
Julian’s background was professional development within retail, and he had worked at some of the UK’s largest high-street and leisure-park brands – such as B&Q and Iceland. At the latter, his final role was HR work-stream manager for a major, national project, looking after the policy and training side. By the time of his incident, he oversaw about a third of the organisation’s estate.
“I was Captain Indestructible,” he says. “I was living in Cardiff, my office was in Southampton, I was there by 7:30 every morning, went skiing twice a year, out every weekend – you name it. And at the age of 30, just before it happened, I was thinking: ‘Happy days… nothing can touch me.’”
Julian’s illness remained undiagnosed for two-and-a-half years, during which he wrestled with a loss of motor control on his right-hand side and a host of other, gruelling symptoms. Eventually, he was referred to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, which told him he had chronic peripheral vestibular dysfunction, a condition he defines in the following way: “‘Chronic’ means it’s permanent; ‘peripheral’ means it’s on one side, ‘vestibular’ means it’s to do with the vestibular system, and ‘dysfunction’ means it’s knackered. They reckoned it was food poisoning – a bacterial infection from a dodgy steak.”