Advice on making your recruitment processes fair for blind and partially sighted people.
The job application process
The application process is your first opportunity to make sure you open up a job to the best possible range of candidates, and this includes blind and partially sighted people. If you are a smaller employer you might not have a specialist Human Resource team to do your recruiting, so getting this right from the outset can save you time and effort in the long run.
Advertise jobs where blind and partially sighted people can access them. For example, give vacancy details to your local disability employment advisor at Jobcentre Plus or post the vacancy on an accessible website that works with screen magnification and screen reading software, such as Guardian jobs or Monster. Accessible websites sometimes (but not always) display the W3C or RNIB's Surf Right logos.
Make sure that the application form and pack is available in an accessible format such as large print or as an electronic document. This is a requirement under the Equality Act. Alternatively, you could offer a reasonable adjustment to the recruitment process, for example allowing someone to complete the form over the phone.
Your application form can ask applicants if they need any support at the interview. However, the applicant is not required to disclose if they are blind or partially sighted at this stage.
Consider including an equal opportunities statement, and a disability statement in your advertisement, outlining your commitment to equality and diversity.
Sign up for the 'Disability Symbol' campaign. This shows a commitment to equality in the area of recruitment and retention of people who are blind or have a disability. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus for more details.
Make sure that all staff involved in selection and interviews understand equality and diversity. This is to make sure that they deal with all applications in a fair way and promote equality of opportunity.
Meeting a blind or partially sighted person for the first time can be daunting, but there are some things you can do to help things run smoothly and ensure the process is fair.
Once you have shortlisted, you should ask applicants if there is anything they need in order to give them a fair interview. If they do need something, they should tell you at this stage so you can make reasonable adjustments. They might ask for extra time if the interview has a written component, such as a test, or for test material to be provided in large print. Access to Work can pay for this. You can only be expected to make reasonable adjustments to the interview process if the applicant tells you about their disability.
Don't make assumptions. For example, not all blind people read braille and not all partially sighted people like a brightly lit room. Needs will vary from person to person, so make sure you ask the candidate if they require any adjustments.
Ask if the lighting level is suitable, or if the person wants to move towards or face away from a window.
Keep the room free of clutter and obstacles, particularly on the floor.
Offer to guide the candidate to the interview room and within the building.
Focus on the candidate's abilities, rather than their sight loss. They should be able to explain how they go about completing tasks and getting things done.