Shadow Work and Pensions Minister to hear about barriers blind and partially sighted job-seekers experience

Post date: 
Thursday, 26 January 2017

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Deborah Abrahams MP will visit the Edinburgh headquarters of sight loss charity RNIB Scotland on Thursday [January 26]

Ms Abrahams will meet with blind and partially sighted people to hear how they have struggled to overcome barriers to finding work. Many employers still assume this group would be difficult or even impossible to employ.

Ms Abrahams said: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to hear from those who have benefited from all the work RNIB Scotland has done in helping blind and partially sighted people find employment. I look forward to hearing about their experiences of overcoming misconceptions in the workplace and in the recruitment process."

RNIB Scotland director Campbell Chalmers said: "There are around 8,500 blind and partially sighted people of working age in Scotland. But the employment rate for people with sight loss remains at around 29 per cent, compared with 76 per cent for the general population.

"However, in many cases employers might need to only make fairly minor adjustments to enable someone with a visual impairment to contribute in the workplace. And often these attract subsidies through schemes such as Access to Work. People with sight loss already work in journalism, finance, teaching and various other fields. It's about what people are able to do, not what they can't."

RNIB Scotland supports around 500 blind and partially sighted jobseekers each year. During her visit, Ms Abrahams will meet clients and staff at Cafe Tiki, which provides low-cost lunches and snacks within the RNIB Scotland building. Over half of its employees have sight loss.

The charity's 'employment hubs' in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth assist clients to find work, learning or volunteering opportunities. It also supports young people with sight loss to make the transition from school to college, university or employment.

Some aspects of employment support remain reserved to Westminster, such as the Jobcentre Plus network and Employment and Support Allowance, a benefit for people who face extra barriers to work due to illness or disability.