The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in some capacity, many people have lost their jobs and the financial and societal impact of this will be felt for many months to come. As the restrictions will no doubt be easing and a return to normality is hoped for, the workforce will once again be re-engaged with their employers.
Returning to work however for Vision Impaired (VI) individuals presents their own unique challenges and the ever present threat of a Covid-19 resurgence must be taken into account. With this in mind the following guidelines are suggested for an employer who has a vision impaired employee returning to work.
- It is important to recognise that VI employees are generally more tactile in their everyday life both at home, travelling and in the workplace. It is therefore important that extra care is taken with cleaning routines on the following surfaces; handrails, doors, around desks and canteens, toilets, seats, lift buttons and tactile signage.
- If possible, more flexibility in working from home could be offered to a VI employee.
- If travelling to work is essential, providing a taxi to work or subsidised fares might be offered.
- Hand sanitizers and masks should be accessible and distributed throughout the workplace. Ensure they are kept in a consistent position and that the VI employee is familiar with their location.
- Offer assistance from the recommended distance and discuss with the VI employee how best to assist them. It is possible to offer verbal guidance to effectively provide environmental information and to avoid contact. You may use directional instructions or use a clock face as a point of reference. Verbalising your actions to clarify activities and to ensure the person with VI knows where you are is also helpful.
- Ensure all COVID19 signage is accessible to the individual who has VI and communicate any new obstacles or changes to the environment.