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Share your experiences of employment as new research shows shocking attitudes towards blind and partially sighted people

Two people dressed in suits, shaking hands across a table.

Two people dressed in suits, shaking hands across a table

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Eye Health and Visual Impairment has launched an inquiry on employer attitudes and the employment experiences of blind and partially sighted people. This follows new polling published by the APPG which showed that 25 per cent of respondents said they would not be willing to make workplace adaptations and adjustments in order to employ a blind or partially sighted person.

The polling, which was put to the Prime Minister by the Chair of the APPG Marsha de Cordova MP during a recent session of Prime Minister’s Questions, also showed that:

  • 48 per cent of businesses surveyed didn’t have accessible recruitment processes.
  • 47 per cent didn’t know where to find funding to help cover the extra costs of practical support for employees who are blind or partially sighted, such as the government’s Access to Work Scheme.

The inquiry is inviting blind and partially sighted people to submit evidence on areas such as barriers to employment, negative / positive experiences, and available support. Full details are available via the APPG’s website, with submissions of no more than 2000 words requested to be sent by Friday 15 March to [email protected]. Anyone can provide a submission.

In addition to written evidence, the APPG will be hearing from people in person at two evidence sessions during February. The findings of the inquiry will form a report to be published later this spring. While APPGs are informal interest groups for MPs and peers, and their activities do not have a formal bearing on government, the report will be an important opportunity to highlight what needs to change to the Work and Pensions Secretary and to fellow Parliamentarians.

RNIB believes there needs to be greater focus on addressing attitudes in the workplace and educating employers to ensure their practices and workplace environments are inclusive and accessible for blind and partially sighted people, including for employees who develop sight loss.

A recurring challenge for blind and partially sighted people is that information such as job adverts, information on training schemes, and forms is rarely in an accessible format. This restricts the number of jobs some blind and partially sighted people can apply for.

RNIB is calling for employers to become more inclusive by aligning their working practices to the RNIB Visibly Better Employer quality standard, which will support them to attract and retain a more diverse workforce and draw on the value that blind and partially sighted people bring to their organisation.

More support needs to be provided for blind and partially sighted people who are in or seeking employment. For two years people have faced significant delays in accessing the support they need when applying to Access to Work, a UK Government scheme that provides practical and financial support for disabled people to find and retain work. It now on average takes just over two months from an initial application to assessment and determination of an application.

This, in addition to the lack of awareness or willingness from employers as demonstrated in the polling, means blind and partially sighted people are facing unnecessary barriers to accessing the support needed to do their job.

It’s also clear that employers are often unaware of the Access to Work scheme, which is sometimes referred to as ‘the Government's best kept secret’. RNIB believes the scheme needs to be better promoted.

RNIB is also keen to hear from blind and partially sighted people who have experienced delays or other issues with the Access to Work scheme. You can share your experience via our short webform.