Career file: Challenging attitudes to disability

To mark European Year for People with Disabilities, we asked Jude Sefton,
MBE, to describe her work for Access Unlimited

How long have you been in this job?

I have been a trainer since 1993 but became self-employed in 1997.

What does your role involve?

I deliver disability equality training to staff working within various key
areas of service provision – that is, tourism, sport and leisure, retail,
disability arts etc.

What’s the best things about your job?

The best is being in a position to bring about effective change and to be
able to challenge the stereotypical attitudes that exist regarding disability.

What is your current major project or strategic push?

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is currently providing a strategic
push and most of my training is linked to the duties imposed upon service

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?

I always had a childhood ambition to become a nurse.

What was your first job?

While waiting to become accepted into my local school of nursing, I worked
as a doctor’s receptionist which gave me valuable experience of working with
people from all walks of life.

What was the best career decision you ever made?

To relinquish my incapacity benefit and become self-employed. I have had to
make several career changes to suit my deteriorating mobility levels after
developing Rheumatoid Arthritis at 22. Each enabled me to develop professional

How and why did you become a trainer?

I found it difficult to secure employment on becoming a wheelchair user and
worked in a voluntary capacity for some years as a secretary for a local access
group. This gave me the opportunity to develop knowledge in disability issues
and work with service providers to ensure a service of equality was offered to
people with disabilities.

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?

I value my nursing qualification as it enabled me realise my childhood
ambition and taught me a valuable lesson that given the right opportunities,
and blending enthusiasm and drive, then anything is possible.

What was the worst course you ever went on?

One that was supposedly for helping disabled people back into the workplace.
Unfortunately for the trainer, the delegates knew a lot more about disability
than she did.

How do you think your job will have changed in five years’ time?

I think that technology will take the training experience into a new
dimension but hope that it doesn’t totally replace the human touch.

What do you think the core skills for your job will be in the future?

I hope they will still be very much about interpersonal skills, enthusiasm
and passion for the subject.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in training and

Know your subject matter inside out and once the enthusiasm and passion ebb,
then move on. Always be true to yourself and your delegates.

What are your favourite buzzwords?

Inclusion, equality and empowerment!

Are you good at self-development?

I recognise the value of self-development but being self-employed have
difficulty in securing the time to pursue it.

What self-development have you undertaken in the past 12 months?

I have attended several DDA workshops recently to further my knowledge in this
important area of my work.

How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues?

For my sense of fun and my passion for life, not just for my disability.

Up close and personal

How do you network?

I find it useful to attend conferences, seminars, workshops. I
also have good working relationships with associates working within the field
of disability which often culminates in working in partnership.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be

Being in a position to influence change and break down the
barriers which exclude disabled people is 
the best job in the world! I am fortunate to be able to use my personal
experiences in such a positive way.

Describe your management style

Structured fun

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I hope I am well enough to be still fighting the cause.

What is your motto?

Lose the passion, lose the delegate!’

Which is the best management book you have read?

I really admire the work of Honey & Mumford (Learning

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