There is an amazing range of assistive technologies available which can help someone who is losing their sight to retain their job, or open up the world of work to blind and partially sighted people.
In particular, technology can help blind and partially sighted people access computers and read printed documents. Here are some of the many ways in which employers can support staff by making simple adaptations or investing in assistive technology.
There are many ways in which partially sighted people can adapt computers to make them easier to use.
Simple adaptations can be made to a computer such as displaying large fonts and icons, changing the colour scheme and increasing contrast
Large monitors can be helpful for someone who wants to increase the size of the text on the screen, as can magnifying filter screens
Magnification software can increase the size of a small part of the screen to fill the viewable area
Video magnifiers can be used to electronically magnify the screen
Adapted keyboards are available, as are keyboard stickers which can make a standard keyboard easier to use.
It is quite possible for someone with little or no vision to use a computer.
Screen reader software, such as JAWS or SuperNova, reads out text from the screen using synthetic speech. Screen readers also allow users to navigate through the system and control programmes from the keyboard
Voice recognition software allows users to voice-activate programmes on the computer
An electronic braille display is a tactile device placed under a conventional computer keyboard, which enables the user to read the contents of the computer screen, by touch in braille
To read print, a scanner with optical character recognition (OCR) converts print into electronic text that is read aloud using synthetic speech.
Find our more about this in our technology resource hub.
RNIB can help you assess which assistive technologies would be appropriate for your employees as part of our work-based assessments. We can also provide bespoke one to one assistive technology training.
You can also browse the wide range of assistive technology available to buy through the RNIB Online Shop.
If your organisation employs, or is due to take on, someone who is blind or partially sighted, they may need to use access software. The following factsheet is designed to help your IT staff test the compatibility of access software with your organisation's IT applications:
For advice on how to create large and clear print documents, and ensure that websites, Excel spread sheets, forms and Word documents are accessible, visit our Ask RNIB Accessibility at work FAQs.