A workplace that takes into account inclusion and accessibility as part of good business practice enables a person who is blind or vision impaired to meaningfully contribute to the organisation’s success.
Advertising a position
The strategies below are intended to ensure that the way in which you advertise a vacant position is accessible to all people, including those who are blind or vision impaired.
Be innovative in the way you construct your job description so you don’t unintentionally rule out applicants who could do the job. For example, having a driving licence is becoming standard criteria, however does the role being advertised require the candidate to drive, or visit alternative sites on a regular basis? These criteria being listed in an advertisement could unintentionally shrink the talent pool you have access to.
Consider the level of flexibility in receiving information from an applicant as part of the application process. What information are you trying to share, and can you get it in alternative ways? For example, online recruitment software and email applications. Can the organisation be flexible in the way an applicant sends the required information?
A candidate is not required to disclose their disability in their application, this means you may be interviewing people who have a disability that you are not aware of. For this reason, it is important to be aware that a candidate may have a disability and prepare accordingly.
Hold the interview in an accessible location and provide each candidate with detailed information about how to get to the interview location; for example, entry to the building, stairs, lift access.
If there is paperwork required as part of the interview process, provide interviewees with options to complete the forms; for example hardcopy and electronic. If you are unsure if the software or programs you are using are accessible to assistive technology you can ask the provider or the programs you are using for input.
If you would like to make your workplace more accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired, Blind Citizens Australia has prepared a number of resources for both employers and recruiters. These resources cover topics such as workplace accessibility and safety, discrimination and frequently asked questions. These are available HERE.
The Accessible Recruitment Guide was created by Media Access Australia to provide practical ‘real world’ guidance on how best to address accessibility-related issues in recruitment and human resources management. You can download the accessible recruitment guide here:
You may also like to look at the Accessible Recruitment Checklist.
Interacting with someone who is blind or vision impaired
It is important to understand that people who are blind or vision impaired want others to interact with them in the same manner as they interact with sighted individuals in the workplace, with a few considerations to the visual cues. Here are some tips that can facilitate positive interactions at work between blind, vision impaired, and sighted coworkers:
- When meeting a person who is blind or vision impaired, wait for them to extend their hand for a handshake
- Coworkers should identify themselves by name when speaking to people who are blind or vision impaired
- Speak with a normal tone of voice. Do not shout or speak slowly.
- When there are several people in a room, such as during a staff meeting, each individual should identify themselves to the person who is blind or vision impaired. This is often referred to as a ‘roll call’ and involves going around the table or room and having everyone say their name and, if necessary, their role in the organisation.
- Indicate the end of a conversation before walking away
- Feel free to use vision-oriented words such as “see,” “look,” and ” watch.”
- Be specific when giving directions or descriptions. Saying, “The copy machine is located outside the break room to the left of the door,” is more helpful than saying, “it’s over there.” Similarly, avoid using hand gestures to communicate messages.
- Don’t assume a blind person always needs assistance and can’t do things for themselves
- If an individual who is blind or vision impaired needs assistance walking to a destination, a sighted coworker can offer an arm as a sighted guide. The guide shouldn’t grab the person’s arm and try to steer a person in a certain direction, instead let them take your arm and they will walk with you.
- Individuals who are blind or vision impaired may use a long white cane or dog guide. Do not interfere with the person’s cane or dog guide.
This information was adapted from the website https://aphcareerconnect.org/
Guide Dogs NSW / ACT have also prepared some great resources on assisting someone who is blind or vision impaired, these are available HERE.
Sighted Guide Techniques
The following video was produced by VisAbility in collaboration with Curtin University, and offers some useful advice on how to assist people who are blind or vision impaired.
We are working with employers across Australia to increase the accessibility and employment opportunities for people who are blind or vision impaired. To find out more about our program please register for our program here, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 033 660.