Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training, will visit a popular social enterprise cafe in Edinburgh today that is helping people with sight loss and other disabilities to enhance their work skills.
Mr Hepburn will meet staff and volunteers at Cafe Tiki, based within the headquarters of sight loss charity RNIB Scotland. The cafe provides low-cost lunches and snacks. Over half of its employees have personal experience of sight loss.
There are around 8,500 blind and partially sighted people of working age in Scotland. But while the employment rate of people with a disability generally continues to increase, the rate for those with sight loss has remained at around 29 per cent, compared with 76 per cent for the general population.
Mr Hepburn said: "Many people with sight and hearing loss can need a degree of specialist support to find and stay in work. They can face barriers such as transport difficulties, limited access to assistive technology and employer misconceptions about what they are capable of. RNIB is doing fantastic work to support these people, and help build individual confidence and capability.
"I am looking forward to visiting Cafe Tiki to meet some of their employees and hear first-hand about the challenges in accessing the labour market.”
RNIB Scotland director Campbell Chalmers said: "Cafe Tiki offers a superb service and has proved very popular with our members and the public.
"Too many employers still have misperceptions about what workers with sight loss can and can't do. But, in many cases, an employer might only need to make relatively minor adjustments to the workplace environment. And where a worker might need additional aids or equipment the financial costs can often be subsidised by government schemes such as Access to Work."
RNIB Scotland runs Café Tiki as a social firm, with a second outlet in Glasgow, in partnership with coffee roaster Matthew Algie.