Shadow Secretary of State hears about the barriers to work for disabled people at a roundtable hosted by RNIB
The Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and Chair of the Labour Party and National Policy Forum, Anneliese Dodds MP, met with RNIB, people with lived experience, and organisations from across the disability sector, to discuss what a future government can do to ensure disabled people are supported to enter and retain work and to address the disability pay gap.
Speaking to RNIB Connect Radio Anneliese said: "The core thing that's stuck out for me from what he [RNIB CEO Matt Stringer] said was how often there isn't proper integration for people, for example if we’re talking about someone who starts to lose their sight in their fifties or sixties the different services then are really not very well joined up. Also around the social side and support in the workplace and transport and rehabilitation - that those services can be great when people get them, but just organising that can be really, really hard."
In a wide-ranging discussion, people with lived experience explained that difficulties accessing support and equipment, and too little understanding of disability, are among the barriers to more disabled people being in work. At the same time, research indicates low awareness among employers of the existence of government schemes which can cover the cost of assistive equipment and support.
On top of the roundtable discussion, the Shadow Secretary of State also saw first-hand the accessibility features of the new RNIB HQ, one of the first buildings in the UK to achieve the BSI PAS 6493 “Design for the Mind – Neurodiversity and the Build Environment” rating.” RNIB’s Grimaldi office is an example of best practice in accessible building and design. Designed in consultation with blind and partially sighted people and design experts to ensure it is as accessible and inclusive as possible, Grimaldi was opened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh in June last year. Features of the building include:
- Sensory-inclusive lighting systems.
- In-built tactile surfaces on the inside and outside of the building.
- A purpose-built Serenity Room for managing sensory overload.
RNIB Chief Executive Matt Stringer said,
“We were delighted that Anneliese Dodds took the time to find out more about the policy changes specific to blind and partially sighted people that RNIB is calling for in the run up to the next General Election, and to learn about the features of our accessible office building as part of her visit today.
“Blind and partially sighted people face obstacles in many aspects of their lives, including employment. We know around 11,000 people with sight loss are currently looking for work, so it was good to hear Labour’s proposals to tackle both the employment gap and the pay gap which disabled people face, making sure work is at a good pay level, and that the right support is available.”