Belfast Telegraph

See beyond our sight disability, talented twins urge employers

By Donna Deeney

Twins Judith and Chloe MacCombe are a dynamic pair who have never allowed their reduced vision stop them from doing anything - but they are struggling to convince employers to see past their disability.

The sisters, aged 21 and from Claudy, were born with a form of albinism that has left them with reduced eyesight of around 30%.

But they have never let it hold them back, and they have the university degrees to prove it.

It's not just in the academic world that the sisters have excelled - they are forces to be reckon with on the rugby field, the karate dojo and in rowing.

Judith and Chloe also compete in triathlons and hope to reach a high enough standard in the gruelling sport to secure them a place in the Paralympics.

While this is more than your average 21-year-old would contend with, the girls are also gifted musicians and between them play the clarinet, flute, piano and guitar.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Chloe said convincing prospective employers that they are more than their disability is proving to be one of the toughest challenges they have faced.

"We both graduated last year from Ulster University with degrees in geography because our interest is in environmental jobs or in online mapping," she said.

"After we graduated we applied just for jobs in this field, but now we are applying for everything we can. We must have sent off hundreds of applications and on each of them we truthfully declare our disability, which is all the employers seem to focus on.

"I have asked for feedback on some of the jobs that I didn't get but which I know I was qualified to do, and I have been told it was because the employer felt my lack of vision would stop me from doing the job properly.

"The idea that discrimination against people with disability doesn't exist isn't correct, it really does exist and we are coming up against it all the time.

"We just want employers to see people with disabilities for what they can do and give them a chance."

Being told they might not, or will not, be able to do something because of their reduced vision is something the sisters have grown up with, but they have always turned this negativity to their advantage.

Judith explained: "There is so much we can do - we just might go at things a little differently. We would like employers to ask what it is we can do, not what we can't do because, given the chance, we can pretty much do anything a fully sighted person can do."

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