38-year-old Teresa Ryan, who lives with spina bifida, is determined to overcome all obstacles to succeed in her ambition to work in a secretarial job.
“I am not going to give up until I secure employment in a secretarial position,” says Teresa, who lives in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
Teresa has always enjoyed learning and has spent her adult life in continuing education. A past pupil of St Senan’s National School and Colaiste Brid and Enniscorthy Vocational College, she says that she always liked and enjoyed school.
“I really liked going to school, I enjoyed learning and making good friends. I never encountered any problems or impediments being a wheelchair user and I had really positive experiences in school,” she says.
“I passed the Leaving Certificate Applied and I was really pleased with my results.”
After school, Teresa worked in Enniscorthy Community Workshop for three years and then completed a number of computer courses. Other work experience, including an eight-week stint in the 1798 Visitors Centre in Enniscorthy, sorting filing in the office, renewed her interest in secretarial work.
This month will see Teresa completing a one-year course in computers with the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) in Gorey which she says has been a very positive experience for her.
“While it was a computer course, we did a bit of everything and even went on days’ out. It has been great experience and has really boosted my confidence and my expertise,” she says.
“It has given me the confidence to sign up for a higher skills course in computers and maths. This is another one-year course being run by Enniscorthy Community Workshop and my goal is at the end of this course, I will secure a job.
“I really want to work in an office as a secretary but it is so difficult to find work, not because I am not capable of doing the work but because so many buildings are not accessible.
“Inaccessible buildings really limits the number of jobs to which a wheelchair user can apply for. Every building should be accessible and this is a regulation which really needs to be brought into being and rigorously enforced.
“I am enjoying all the continuous education that I am doing, however, I am doing it all with the aim of getting a job and I will not give up until I get a secretarial job.