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Summary: Find out more about jobs that people with sight loss are employed in, information about employing people with sight loss and grants that are available to employers when employing a person with sight loss.
What sort of jobs do people with sight loss do?
There are many jobs where good eyesight is not essential. Where good vision is important, it may be possible to introduce adaptations to either the job or the equipment used.
With appropriate training and equipment, people with sight loss can have the same career prospects as anyone else in their chosen field. There are no ‘jobs for blind people’. People who are blind and vision impaired are employed in a wide range of careers, including:
- Social Work
- Radio Presenting
- Call Centre Staff
- Computer Programming
- Clerical work
- Health care
This list is not exhaustive, and there are many other career paths available to people with sight loss.
It makes good business sense to employ people with sight loss. They represent a significant untapped resource in the labour pool, and with the right adaptations and supports are capable of doing most jobs. It is important to consult with the individual about what the most appropriate adaptations and supports are.
The legal aspect
Under the Equal Status Act 2000, an employer has a duty to do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability. Employers can do this by making simple adjustments to the workplace, so that the person with a disability is fully capable of undertaking the tasks involved in the job. It is unlawful to reject a candidate just because of their disability.
The employer’s duty to accommodate the employee applies both to the physical features of the workplace and to all aspects of employment such as recruitment, training, career development and retention. NCBI’s employment service and technology assessment service can advise on suitable equipment or adaptations to the workplace, which can assist a person with sight loss in their job.
Will it cost me anything to employ a person with sight loss?
There are grants available from FÁS to cover the cost of equipment and other services to make the workplace accessible for your employee.
- The Workplace Equipment / Adaptation Grant provides a grant to the private sector towards the cost of adaptations to premises or equipment.
- The Personal Reader’s Grant will cover the cost of a reader to help your new employee, if necessary.
- The FÁS Retention Grant Scheme offers financial support to you, as the employer, to retain employees who acquire an illness or condition which impacts on their ability to carry out their job.
- The FÁS Disability Awareness Training Grant is designed to ensure that your staff provide the best service to customers or clients with disabilities and that your managers and other employees maximise their working relationships with colleagues with disabilities.
- The Employment Support Scheme offers financial support to employers in the private sector to encourage them to employ people with disabilities whose work productivity levels are between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of normal performance, and are employed for at least 20 hours per week.
Can a person with sight loss be as productive as any other employee?
With the correct use of appropriate assistive technology and perhaps simple adjustments to the person’s workstation, people with sight loss can perform their duties as well as their sighted colleagues. For example, appropriate speech software enables totally blind people to use all of the features of a computer.
What about health and safety?
As long as your health and safety guidelines are in place there should be no problem. In fact, employing a person with sight loss may well encourage improved health and safety systems for everyone. The most significant health and safety obligations are:
- To keep circulation routes, entrances and exits clear of obstacles.
- To designate somebody to assist a person with a disability in the event of an emergency.
NCBI Employment Service
Our employment service provides advice to both employers and employees on application procedures, interviews and career advancement, as well as on what adaptations can be made to assist a person with sight loss in the workplace and the grants that are available.
Other services that you may find helpful are:
- Our technology service offers advice on a range of magnification and speech software to make information accessible.
- The NCBI library and media conversion service converts written material and textbooks into Braille and audio formats.
- We can also assist employees with sight loss to live independent lives by enabling them to carry out everyday tasks and move around safely and independently. See our mobility training service.
- Our community resource service aims to provide emotional and practical support to meet the individual needs of people living with sight loss.