Don’t be shy. Ask me anything.
It’s important to include everyone, with all their rough edges. Every person is unique.
I’ve been working at ING in Nürnberg since 2007. Customers call with their questions and problems and I try to help them as best I can. I handle questions about basic products like savings and current accounts.
What I really like about my job is dealing with so many different types of personalities on the phone. When a customer wants to share an opinion, a complaint or experience I let them do all the talking first. I want to give them the feeling that someone really listens.
I’m completely blind in one eye and have 10% residual vision in the other eye. I can see the outlines of things, so I’ll know whether a person is in front of me or not. Close enough, I can recognise specific people.
I’ve been visually impaired since birth. I had kind of a rough start in my life. When I was three, I was placed with a foster family that had five children. It was wonderful growing up with them.
The magnifying mouse
In the past, visually impaired people like myself needed expensive, specialised magnification software to work on a computer. Since Windows 7, the magnification software is automatically integrated into the software. There are no licenses anymore.
With my mouse I select what I want to read, and then it’s magnified on my screen. What you see on one screen, I see on two. If I need more time to figure things out, I’ll put the customer on hold. Customers don’t even notice that I have any impairment.
Despite corona, I still come to work each day. I need around 20 minutes to get to the office in Südwestpark, Nürnberg. I use public transportation – first the tram, then the subway and bus. I like to be at work by 6:30 each morning because there are fewer people on the go, so fewer obstacles. That makes it easier for me to navigate my way around with my white cane.
Social distancing is possible for me to do. In a public setting, I’ll request out loud, if necessary, that people keep their distance from me. In situations where I need other people’s help, for example to cross the street or to get down a flight of stairs, I’ll ask them to pull out the Thera-Band [a stretchable exercise band] that’s wrapped around my arm. The band is around 1.5 meters long, so it creates sufficient distance between me and the other person.
A helping hand
There are employees at our office whose job is to support disabled employees like myself, and I really appreciate that. Anja Fischer is the representative for employees with disabilities in Nürnberg. It’s very helpful to be able to contact Anja about certain practical things or aids that can help me work more efficiently.
For example, all the computers here were to be replaced and every employee was supposed to get a new laptop. I mentioned to Anja that a laptop would be difficult for me to use because I really need the two large screens. Anja took care of it. Or, sometimes there are important forms that get sent to you by email from the HR department and you have to respond by a certain deadline. Anja will make me extra aware of that, in case I overlook it.
I’m so happy to work at ING. It’s really fantastic here. Being able to help customers with their specific issues is what drives me most.
I always tell people: don’t be shy when talking with people who have a disability, whether it’s the visually impaired or people in a wheelchair. Just ask any question. If I don’t want to answer a question, I’ll say so. I determine that. It’s important to include everyone, with all their rough edges. Every person is unique.
Leaving no one behind: accessibility at ING
Making our products and services accessible to all clients, and supporting employees with disabilities, is part of our purpose: empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and business. And we want to leave no one behind. That’s why on 3 December, ING joins the global movement to celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Activities in ING-countries include a digital ‘job-dating’ in The Netherlands, an intercompany pub-quiz with employee networks and a global round table session on an accessible ING for all. In Germany and Romania, the ING offices will light up in purple to raise awareness for the cause.
ING’s Global Accessibility team advises on the accessibility of product and services we offer clients globally. Several innovations are specifically aimed at making banking more accessible for people with a visual disability. ING’s mobile app has speech software, the ‘accessible card’, a Dutch debit card with a notch on the side, is easy to recognise right away in your wallet, while ING in Poland offers services in sign language. For more backgrounds and examples, check the accessibility page on ing.com.
Manuela’s story is an example of how ING supports employees with a disability to succeed at ING. People with a visual disability can request assistive software, for the use of braille, screen readers and zoom functions. Other examples of support include specific screens, keyboards/mouse, chairs or standing desks needed to perform your job.
Your whole self is welcome here
This article is part of a series in which ING colleagues tell their personal stories. At ING we celebrate inclusion and value a diverse workforce, as we know people are most motivated when they are free to be their whole selves.