The following aims to answer some frequently asked questions as well as bust some myths about employing someone who may be blind or vision impaired.
Are there costs associated to my business if I hire someone who is blind or vision impaired?
It doesn’t cost more to employ a person with any disability. The Australian Government provides funding through the Job Access Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) to cover the costs of purchasing adaptive technology and other equipment people who are blind or vision impaired may use at work. This is done by an assessor from the Job Access program and incurs no cost on the business or worker.
People with disability can only do unskilled and low-level jobs.
People with disability can work at any level or position in a business. Approximately 34% of staff in Australia who have a disability are employed as managers (see Australian Network on Disability: Disability Statistics)
Are blind or vision impaired people less productive as workers?
People with vision loss are as productive as other employees. Disability does not impact on productivity. Especially when the correct adjustments have been obtained through the Job Access program mentioned above. People with disabilities have also had to live a life of problem solving which has benefits regarding productivity as this promotes out of the box thinking.
Are there workplace safety or WHS risks to employing someone who is blind or vision impaired?
There are no higher rates of workplace accidents from blind or vision impaired workers or their co-workers. Employees with vision loss have access to services from Guide Dogs, Vision Australia and other providers that can help in the safe navigation to and from work and around the workplace itself. This is also at no cost to the employer.
What if I don’t understand how a blind or vision impaired worker can do the job?
As a rule, people with vision loss or any other kind of disability do not apply for jobs unless they believe they can do the tasks required. If they are applying, it is because they feel that it is within their capacity to do so with the right adjustments (for example, Job Access).
Do I have to change how I speak around a worker with disability?
No. Contrary to perceptions, people with disabilities do not require a different approach in language that would not already be expected in any workplace throughout Australia for all workers.
Can I ask a job applicant or employee if they have a disability?
An employee is only obligated to tell you about a disability if it affects their ability to do a particular job, or if it affects their ability to work safely and ensure the safety of others. You will find many job seekers with disabilities are willing to be forth coming but often fear employer misconceptions of what is possible.