We've collected case studies from employers, employment professionals and people with sight loss who have used some of the services available to help.
Sight loss should not equal job loss, and there are many services to help blind and partially sighted people find work or retain the jobs they have. Find out about how some of them have made a difference.
Lucy works as a solicitor for a major international law firm. She specialises in contract law.
A few years ago, when putting in her contact lenses she realised that she could not see fully out of one eye. It was like a curtain had been drawn across her vision. After surgery to repair her eye, she he was left with distortion when looking at text and sensitivity to light.
Lucy spoke to her line manager, and they weren't sure what to do or what adjustments they could make to help. Their Occupational Health service requested input from RNIB and a work-based assessment was arranged.
RNIB's assessor recommended screen magnification software, a monitor and keyboard and a portable video magnifier to read text. The assessor also made suggestions for changes in the working environment to make things easier.
Lucy had been unsure about how it would even be possible to use a computer with the changes she had in her eyesight and worried about losing her job. The work-based assessment gave her the confidence she needed to return to work. Now Lucy and her employer are happy and they have both benefitted from the results of a simple intervention.
Lucy: I was told about some wonderful equipment - some very high tech, and others very simple. RNIB gave me lots of tips for making work more comfortable, and I felt listened to by experienced practitioners. I can’t thank my employer and RNIB enough for supporting me back to a job I enjoy after a challenging time in my life.
Michael is a busy employment advisor who supports lots of clients to get them back into work.
Michael’s new client, Violet, had more than twenty years' experience as an Outreach Support Worker, but when lockdown restrictions were introduced Violet's job ended. Violet has retinitis pigmentosa and is registered severely sight impaired so she was worried that she would struggle to find work with a new employer.
Violet was unsure about the new government programme designed to help people back into work. Her past experience told her these programmes weren't designed for people with sight loss. When Violet was put in touch with Michael she changed her mind.
Michael told Violet he had participated in an RNIB e-learning course called Understanding Sight Loss for Employment Professionals, and Violet thinks this has helped them work so well together. Michael has encouraged Violet to talk openly to him about her sight loss so he can understand how her sight loss affects her in work. Together they have discussed the type of job which would suit Violet best and any barriers that Violet's sight loss might create. This has helped Violet to think about her options in the care field and she feels confident that Michael understands her needs and knows what type of job she is looking for.
Violet meets with Michael every week via video call and they work together to create job search plans and share potential vacancies. Violet is confident about the future and enjoys her sessions with Michael.
Violet: Because of the pandemic I’ve never actually met Michael but I feel like he understands the issues I might experience and makes good suggestions about simple adjustments that are so helpful. I feel hopeful and I’m really glad I have an advisor who knows how to work with a customer with sight loss.
Afshan heads up a small London law firm employing six people. The firm recently took on Joanne who is registered blind.
Joanne is completely blind in her right eye and has limited vision in her left eye. Afshan knew Joanne was the right candidate for the job but he wasn’t sure what adjustments might be needed to help her carry out the complex role. The job involves interviewing new clients, making applications to the Home Office and issuing judicial review applications in the high court so there is a lot of detail, small print and work on the computer.
Afshan and Joanne both found the Access to Work scheme really efficient and helpful, recommending and funding different pieces of equipment to help Joanne at work. Thanks to the scheme the firm hasn’t incurred any additional costs.
Joanne has been able to complete all her work with just a few extra pieces of equipment, including a larger computer screen with the resolution set to maximum and a portable magnifier for reading small print documents.
Afshan: Joanne’s ambition and work ethic is something to be admired. I think it’s all too easy for employers to focus on what a person with a disability can’t do, rather than all the things people like Joanne can do.
Mel works as an Incomes Collection Officer for the Riverside Group in Irvine in Scotland. She enjoys her job, loves the company and provides a good service to her customers.
Mel has been treated for various eye conditions over the years and was given eye drops which unfortunately accelerated the condition further. After a hospital appointment, Mel left having been told there was nothing more that could be done to save her sight.
Mel was devastated and unsure what way to turn, worried about losing her job and what the future might hold. She went online and found the RNIB website. She sent a short email asking if there was a way she could stay in her job and very quickly had a reply.
Mel soon met up with her local adviser from RNIB, who told her about a project called Let's Work Together and the guide for employers that was being introduced to help them keep their staff with sight loss in work.
Mel met with her manager, Duane, who admitted he hadn't dealt with this type of situation before. Although he’d been a manager for many years Duane had no idea about the support, devices and simple adjustments available to help staff with sight loss retain their jobs. The information Michelle and Duane both got from the Let’s Work Together guide made a huge difference.
Using funding from the Access to Work scheme, Mel now has larger monitors, screen magnification software, video magnifiers and more, so she can keep doing all the aspects of the job she loves.
Mel and Duane, were invited to the official launch of the Let's Work Together guide and have given their stories to more than sixty employers, encouraging them to use the retention guide and keep their employees with sight loss in work. To date, more than three hundred employers across the UK have copies of the guide.
Mel: Without this guide and the help from RNIB I wouldn’t have known where to turn. I found out there were lots of things that could make a difference and Duane and me both learned loads. Pardon the pun, but it has been an eye opener, it really has.