People who are blind or vision impaired lead rich, fulfilling lives and offer many benefits to the workplace given the opportunity.
Unfortunately, statistically in Australia people who are blind or vision impaired face under or unemployment, compared to the general population. Research suggests this may, in part, be due to employers’ lack of disability confidence in providing the adjustments that enable them fully to participate in work.
The frequently asked questions below are a good first step to understanding simple adjustments in the workplace that promote equity and inclusion for people who are blind or vision impaired and seek to address the perceived risks associated with employing people experiencing vision loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: No more than employing anyone else. The Australian Government provides funding through the Job Access Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) to cover the costs of purchasing assistive 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.
A: Disability does not impact on productivity. People with vision loss are as productive as other employees. Especially when reasonable adjustments have been facilitated. People with disability have to problem solve in every day life to maintain their independence. This can benefit the workplace regarding productivity in terms of promoting out of the box thinking.
A: Employer obligations to provide a safe workplace remain the same regardless of whether there is an employee who is blind or vision impaired. Work environments with good lighting, clear signage and a logical layout make it easier for everyone.
A: People with disability can work at any level or position within a wide range of businesses and industries. Examples of occupations and professions undertaken by people who are blind or vision impaired range from university professors through to social workers, farmers, chiropractors and butchers.
Generally speaking, people apply for jobs that match their skill set and their capacity to do the tasks required. This is no different for people who are blind or vision impaired. In fact they are often more highly educated than their sighted peers.
A: No. Braille is used by some people who are blind or vision impaired as a reading and writing tool to access information and complete work tasks. It is easily translated into standard print, usually Word, for team members to view and access.
Screen magnifiers and screen readers are much more commonly used for this purpose. The individual will be provided with the necessary technology through the worksite assessment conducted by Job Access.
A: People who are blind or vision impaired miss out on body language and other non-verbal cues.
Simple strategies such as introducing yourself before speaking, indicating clearly when the conversation has ended, and describing images, are all very helpful.
It is highly recommended that your team participates in workplace inclusion training to ensure that everyone is confident in using inclusive practice in the workplace.
A: Accommodations are generally referred to as reasonable adjustments which are highly individualised depending on the eye condition and other factors.
Some common reasonable adjustments include:
- Modifying a workspace by taking away clutter and improving lighting
- Providing written information in alternative accessible formats, such as Word documents, braille or audio
- Permitting the installation of screen reading or magnification software and the use of other vision aides such as hand held magnifiers and mobility aids
There are a lot of assumptions made about what people who are blind or vision impaired can and can’t do. Let’s bust those myths!
People who are blind and vision impaired:
- Can navigate steps safely.
- Can read and write.
- Can watch TV and movies.
- Can play sport.
- Can parent and care for elderly relatives.
- Can travel despite not having a driver’s license.
- Do not have super sonic hearing.