Employment Practice and Research Network (EPRN)

Evidence shows that two thirds of registered blind and partially sighted people of working age are not in employment.

Sight loss creates unique challenges in employment which can only be addressed with specialist knowledge, understanding and support.

About the network

The Employment Practice and Research Network (EPRN) has been established to support employers, researchers and employment professionals including disability management staff, in improving services for blind and partially sighted people wishing to obtain, and remain in, employment.

The network is ideal for people working in:

  • employment services
  • careers guidance
  • vocational rehabilitation
  • welfare to work
  • human resources and disability management
  • occupational health
  • academic and organisational research
  • employment policy for people with disabilities.

EPRN aims

The EPRN aims to bring together employment research and service delivery staff from a variety of organisations and academic institutions to share, discuss and disseminate best practice, research findings, and other information relevant to enabling blind and partially sighted people to obtain, and remain in employment, creating a professional and collaborative community.

Please read the full EPRN Terms of Reference (TOR) for further details about the aims and purpose of this network.

Why join?

The Employment Practice and Research Network (EPRN) is FREE to join and offers members the following benefits, opportunities and resources:

  • a forum for the exchange of resources, information, experience and expertise between network members
  • access to training and learning opportunities
  • increased awareness of initiatives aimed at driving up standards and professionalism across the welfare-to-work industry
  • links with specialists supporting blind and partially sighted people
  • gain or retain employment through Work Choice or the Work Programme
  • free subscription to a regular enewsletter
  • keeping in touch via a secure email discussion group.

The EPRN hosts a professional networking day a minimum of once a year and is supported by online resources, an enewsletter and access to an online community of professionals through our EPRN online forum. You can find out more about these below.

    Professional Networking Days: Previous events

    Engaging employers

    On 25 November 2016 the network met to explore enabling those in roles supporting blind and partially sighted people into work, to create opportunities for employers and blind and partially sighted people to meet and engage. The day included a presentation from RNIB on engaging employers, as well as presentations from the Business Disability Forum and the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion. The day also featured personal insights from people with sight loss, an employer perspective and a round table discussion.   

    The jobs blind and partially sighted people do

    On 8 May 2015 the network met to explore the jobs that blind and partially sighted people do. RNIB presented new research from an analysis of data taken from more than 500 blind and partially sighted people in work, and attendees took part in round table discussions looking at how to support blind and partially sighted people in different employment sectors. The notes from the discussion are below.

    Fit for purpose: reforming employment support for blind and partially sighted people

    On 29 September 2014, the network met to hear from The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion on their Fit for purpose report. The report was the culmination of a six-month research project looking at improving the way that disabled people and those with health conditions are able to access the right support at the right time to prepare for and ultimately find work. The event also showcased an innovative partnership between Action for Blind People and Ingeus. 

    Technology in the workplace

    On 28 February 2014 the network met to explore the theme of how access technology supports the independence of blind and partially sighted people in the workplace. The day featured a number of interactive workstations demonstrating access technology such as: video magnifiers, braille notetakers, screen reading and magnification software.

    Improving the employment prospects of blind and partially sighted people furthest from the labour market

    On 18 June 2013 in the British Library, London we held an event which focused on lessons from the ENABLER project, a three year research project aiming to tackle unemployment for blind and partially sighted people.

    A significant outcome of the project was a new employment assessment toolkit that enhances our understanding of the specific needs of blind and partially sighted job seekers. The toolkit covers areas that blind and partially sighted people have identified as barriers to work, such as mobility and accessing information. The project also tested innovative support strategies with a group of people identified as furthest from the labour market, in order to inform the design of new service interventions that help people to progress towards employment.

    Employment Practice and Research Network (EPRN) Launch: Professional Networking Day

    The inaugural launch of the Employment Practice and Research Network (EPRN) on 12 February 2013 featured speakers from the field of employment research and welfare-to-work industry.

    Email discussion forum

    As a member of the EPRN you have exclusive access to an online e-mail discussion forum. You can discuss the latest news, policy, research and resources along with any queries you may have in relation to your own practice and experience, in a secure environment with peers.

    Discussion list networks are very easy to use and do not require members to log on to an external website to check network activity as all information is delivered directly to your email inbox.

    Find out more about the EPRN online forum and Acceptable Use Policy by downloading our EPRN Guide below:

    Join the EPRN online forum today!

    Employers and Employment Professionals online resources

    Whether you are an employer, employment professional or employment researcher, our Employment professionals and our Employing a blind or partially sighted person sections offer a variety of valuable information from the from the latest research and policy to information on the Access to Work Scheme, work based assessments and IT and accessibility at work!

    You will find all you need to help you support blind and partially sighted people to gain or remain in employment.

    Employment Update enewsletter

    Keep up to date with the latest employment news, resources, information and emerging policy with our Employment Update enewsletter.

    This enewsletter is sent out three times a year.

    To subscribe to our Employment enewsletter email [email protected].

    How do I join the network?

    Join the EPRN and become part of a professional community focused on supporting blind and partially sighted people to gain and retain employment.

    Email [email protected] or call 0121 665 4213 to register your interest and find out more.