The worries and fears of someone living with sight loss

Post date: 
Wednesday, 5 April 2017

With proposed changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) a big topic of discussion in the news, it’s easy to focus on the political jargon and lose sight of what it means to real people, regardless of their disability. In Ross, our young Community Connector’s second blog for RNIB Connect, he reveals how he’s trying to navigate the tricky world of welfare and work.

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As someone living with sight loss and mobility issues, the fear of not having an income is one that haunts me all the time. I can assure you that I am not the only one. This is because as someone that has a “Disability” it is tougher for me to get a job. And even if I do get a job, there are many factors to consider, such as how my benefit will be affected, how long will I be able to be in this job and will I be able to do the job that I want with the limitations I have?

I am the type of person that tells people that they can do anything they want, they just need to prove to themselves they can do it, yet I do not actually take this advice myself.

"I worry about whether or not I'll be able to see, or if I can stay on my feet long enough for a shift"

I think the main reason is that I am nervous to get a job, never having had one, as I am not sure how well I will do. This is something that bothers me all the time. If it’s not a worry about whether or not I’ll be able to see, it’s if I can stay on my feet long enough for a shift. It all depends. There is the looming threat that the second I get employment I lose my disability benefit, regardless of whether I keep that job. And in reality getting a job in the first place is terribly difficult.

I do a lot of voluntary work, which I love and has taught me so much about myself and the person that I am. It’s also been really helpful in showing me where my limits are. However, this still doesn’t help the fact that I cannot get paid work.

I don’t believe that employers are in any way nasty or out to get us (as people with disabilities), but they do have to look at things at face value and think that the speed of the workplace (say for a café or a bar) might be overwhelming for someone with a sensory impairment (or other disability).

What is the solution for helping disabled people find work? 

I’ve been thinking long and hard about ways around this issue and to relieve that anxiety that comes with not getting the money many of us need to live, I have come up with a couple of solutions as to how this problem may be solved.

I believe it would be better to have a trial period of a couple of months (all depending on the disability) whereby the person seeking work can prove to themselves and the employer what they can do. This will also alleviate any issues with benefit in case of the person’s health is the reason for them being unable to work in the job, at least them they gave it a go.

This might be a good way to still allow someone to work, while still receiving government support until they and the employer feel that they are capable of the job. Even at that there should be a limit on the benefit that is taken from someone after going into employment if their disability may prohibit them from working full time or even part time. The current system doesn’t account for this.

The other solution would be, again similar but the wage that the person gets could go into a funding scheme to allow them to access equipment and important things needed for their place of work. This might include, travel to and from work and equipment for use.

This way the person is still technically on a trial period and also might feel a little easier at work as they are being adapted for.

"You're not alone"

This brings me to my next point. I have been volunteering with a few organisations for a few months now and I am still learning so much. I finally know what my limits are and I know that I can only be on my feet for a certain amount of time then I NEED to sit down. Same with my eyes, I use what sight I have well and with that I am able to do things that I never thought I could do because the people around me were happy and willing to adapt things for me.

It is not a struggle to accommodate someone with a disability working, and in fact not allowing them to work because of a disability is taking away the freedom of knowing they might be able to stand on their own.

I hope that someone reading this will benefit from my suggestions and will reach out to others as well and support one another. I still struggle myself with everything I have mentioned in the article, so if you feel the same way I can tell you you’re not alone.

We need to keep fighting to get the word out there and keep this issue in people’s minds.