Blindness no barrier for Country Singer & Marketing Professional Kim Ritchie

Blindness no barrier for Country Singer & Marketing Professional Kim Ritchie
L-R Kim Ritchie, Michelle Stocks (are-able Consultant) & Katriona Heneberry (Bendigo Diesel Injection Service owner)

If you’re looking for a life lesson on how to squeeze the most out of each day then we suggest spending some time with Bendigo resident and are-able Works participant Kim Ritchie.

Kim was born blind but doesn’t let this slow her down in any way – she is ably assisted by her many great friends as well as her beautiful Guide Dog Jed who is a black Labrador.

The are-able Bendigo team first met Kim in 2016 as a jobseeker.  “When we met Kim she was already job-ready so we assisted her with meeting potential employers and marketing her skills.” Said Michelle Stocks an are-able Intake and Engagement Consultant. “Kim was always online to see what positions were available; she is more than capable and had numerous jobs in the past. Kim doesn’t perceive her blindness as a barrier and her positive-can do attitude impressed everyone she met.  Kim was quick to change any pre-conceived ideas about her capabilities and each employer that met her was amazed and quite upset that they were unable to utilize her in their business.”

Kim found her employment match with Bendigo Diesel Injection Service, the owners were immediately impressed with Kim’s outgoing personality, and offered her a position in marketing, where she is excelling in helping grow their business.

When Bendigo Diesel Injection Service built their new office they consulted Kim to make sure she was accommodated and can now confidently work from their office.  “I talk to Kim and her employer regularly to make sure that there are no issues or if she requires any assistance or support” said Michelle “I think Kim just likes to catch up with me personally because she is doing all of it on her own now.  She has learnt the bus routes with her guide dog trainer from Guide Dogs Victoria to make sure that she can safely get to work.”

are-able assisted Kim with getting started, making sure she had the right equipment such as a laptop and headset to accommodate JAWS (a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display).  They also ensured that Kim has the right software to undertake her job.

“Kim is driven and loves to work.  It is the happiest I have ever seen her now that she feels a part of this business.  The things that I have seen her do and achieve, she is just amazing and she puts a lot of us sighted people to shame.  She is outgoing and her confidence and sense of humour are a tribute to her” concluded Michelle.

Three ladies standing together. Left to Right, Kim Ritchie, Michelle Stocks (are-able Consultant) & Katriona Heneberry (Bendigo Diesel Injection Service owner)
L-R Kim Ritchie, Michelle Stocks (are-able Consultant) & Katriona Heneberry (Bendigo Diesel Injection Service owner)

Outside of her role with Bendigo Diesel Injection Service Kim is also a popular Country & Variety singer. Kim regularly performs at many clubs, pubs and country music festivals throughout Central and North Western Victoria, Southern New South Wales and South Australia. Here she captivates her audiences with a mixture of country, gospel, rock and by her own admission “a touch of comedy now and then… “Is anybody interested in a blind date?””

Kim says that although she came into the world blind, but a love of music and performing has given her a clear view of the world around her.
“God didn’t give me sight, but he gave me the ability to sing and play guitar and that obviously makes up for what I haven’t got”.

Recently are-able Bendigo was thrilled to have Kim perform at their International Day for People with a Disability “We love working with Kim, she’s an inspiration to all of us and a shining example of someone who doesn’t let her disability slow her down in anyway. Nothing is ever too much trouble; she is such an outgoing and wonderful person. Kim will regularly join the are-able team on social occasions and were excited to have her perform as part of International Day of People with Disabilities.”  Said are-able Site Manager Julianne Runnalls.

Image collage of Kim singing and Jed her guide dog

are-able Bendigo is one of regional Australia’s leading providers of the Disability Employment Service and Jobactive programs, this means they are among the best in the country at helping people find meaningful and sustainable employment.   are-able supports jobseekers with training, resume preparation, work experience, job matching and employment counselling.  are-able Bendigo also creates solutions for businesses and employers, offering a free service for employers looking to recruit new staff, or refine the skills of their existing staff.

With a team of more than 300 people, and 29 offices across Western Victoria and South East South Australia, there’s likely to be are-able site near you. Speak to us about how we work with people to achieve their goals, in both work and life.