Being in employment is important for much more than just financial stability. Employment can boost your self-esteem, your health and happiness. Being a contributing member of society is an important aspect to modern daily life. This guide aims to offer you advice to help you get the job that you want.
NCBI’s Employment Services
Through our network of Community Resource Workers across the country, we provide one-to-one support, workplace assessments and advocacy services to prepare and empower people with sight loss to gain and retain meaningful employment. Also through our dedicated Employment Service based in our Training Centre, Drumcondra, Dublin, we offer programmes to support entry into the workforce including our pre-employment programme and workplace partnership programme.
“The advice that I would give to people who are blind or vision impaired seeking employment would be:
- Be clear and realistic when writing your CV about what you can do.
- Know the supports you need to do your job. Don’t expect your line manager to know all the assistive technologies available. Bring your solutions with you.”
Clare Kennelly, Inclusive Cork.
Technology has opened up employment opportunities for people who are blind or vision impaired because it is an excellent way of reading and writing at work. The technology that you might need will depend on the level of vision that you have. Magnification software on your computer can enlarge everything on your computer screen and screen reading software reads aloud what is on your computer screen. Adapted scanners can scan printed material onto a computer.
NCBI’s technology service can advise and demonstrate a range of technology and give you an opportunity to try out the technology hands-on. We can also provide you with training and support with using the technology that you choose.
The Workplace Adaptation Grant, funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, offers a grant to cover the cost of technology that you might need. NCBI’s technology service can give you a quotation for the cost of a comprehensive range of equipment which you can apply for under this grant.
Other simple adjustments to consider
There are some simple and inexpensive adjustments to workplace that will enable you to do a job. These might include:
- Use of additional lighting for certain up-close tasks.
- Use of email and voice mail as methods of communication instead of hand written notes.
- Use of larger print for documents and other communications.
- Tactile raised dots called bump-ons on equipment to help identify controls.
- Assigning colleagues to help you to read printed and handwritten materials that cannot be converted electronically.
“My advice to any person who is blind or vision impaired is to go for a job that they passionate about and that they will be able to do with reasonable accommodations. I think it is very important to educate yourself as much as you can and to go for practical career advice with NCBI. I also believe that it is very important to be as knowledgeable as possible in using assistive technologies.”
Tina Lowe, University College Dublin
How and when to tell your employer about your vision impairment?
You do not have to tell a prospective employer about your vision impairment unless it will significantly impact on your ability to do the job. It comes down to a case-by-case basis and the level of comfort you feel with disclosing this information. Some people choose to wait until after the recruitment process while others tell the employer straight away. There are no rules around this, do whatever you are comfortable with.
Applying for a job
When making a job application, you could make your application online or by email or you could request assistance from the HR department to fill out the form.
If you need to take an ability test, you could:
- Ask to use the appropriate assistive technology to read it and fill it in,
- Ask that you have some extra time to fill out the test,
- Ask that someone read the test aloud to you and write down your answers.
At an interview you might like to:
- Make sure you know what the essential job functions of the role are, so that you can explain how you will be able to carry out those functions and what technologies or other simple adjustments you might need.
- Ensure the responses you give to the questions that you are asked focus on your abilities.
- Explain the simple and inexpensive ways the employer can help.
Getting a job offer
If you get offered the job, a range of NCBI’s services can help you to become familiar and comfortable within your role in work. Some of these include:
- Awareness training can be provided for employers and colleagues to encourage a greater understanding of sight loss in the workplace.
- Workplace assessments can be carried out to ensure the safety and accessibility of the work environment for you.
- A technology assessment can be done to find technological aids that will help you to carry out your job to the best of your ability.
- Assistance can be given with mobility skills where we can help you to learn the safest route for your journey to and from work.
Who to ask for help?
As a person with sight loss in the workplace, some challenges that you will face will be related to your vision whereas others will be problems that everybody experiences when starting a new job. You should bring any issues or queries up with your line manager or the HR department. If you don’t find the answer you are looking for or get the help you need, contact NCBI for further assistance.
“I have used all the NCBI services which were put at my disposal and they have really stood to me so much. Mobility training, counselling, employment guidance and technology training, I have had it all and I am so glad. From suggesting the assistive technology my employers could have in place for me to the confidence they have given me, the NCBI has been incredibly helpful and supportive.”
Leslie Scott, Assistant Director in Extern.
You might also be interested to know that you are also protected by the law. The Employment Equality Acts of 1998 and 2004 ask employers to make reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability.
Contact our Employment Service