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Working and getting around safely


Adaptations can be made to the working environment to help you in your job and these may be funded through Access to Work. For example, if conditions are too bright or too dark then adjustments can be made to the lighting levels. As well as the amount of light, the source of light can also be an important factor. You might find that natural light is best and this can mean making the best use of light from windows, rather than relying on electric lighting. Similarly, some people find that “natural light” (daylight) bulbs are very effective.

In general, however, direct glare from windows, lamps, and overhead strip lighting should be avoided. It is also important that fluorescent lamps are suitably shielded and worn lamps are replaced, preferably before they start to flicker or stop working altogether. You'll probably be the best judge of what works well, and what kind of lighting is best for you. Sometimes the simplest change can make a huge difference to a working environment.

Risk assessment

Your employer might feel that carrying out a risk assessment in the workplace would be helpful. If they haven't worked with someone with sight loss before, they might be daunted and could easily overestimate risks or make assumptions about what you can or can’t do. They shouldn't assume, they should ask!

While the law requires employers to identify groups that might be at risk of harm, telling someone that “you must be risk-assessed” sends out a negative message. It suggests that the person is the issue, when this is clearly not the case. It sounds much more positive to tell someone that their role and activities are being assessed. It is important that your employer doesn't make assumptions and even people with the same eye condition can have widely different levels of vision. Your employer should recognise that you are most likely the best person to describe how your sight loss affects you and that you are open to them asking.

Risk assessments carried out without involving you or based on assumptions, are likely to be inaccurate.

Getting around safely

Most people with sight loss have some vision. You might be able to see fine detail or you may have very good peripheral vision. If you have very little or no vision, you can usually have some kind of mobility training which involves learning to navigate using a cane. The cane provides, by touch and sound, what eyesight tells a sighted person about their environment. Access to Work can also fund route learning and mobility training, if it is going to help you to keep your job. Most people with sight loss learn ways of getting around their workplace and your employer can help you in learning to navigate independently at work by using a combination of common sense and applying simple health and safety rules.