People with disabilities seeking employment desire the same things that non-disabled people seek. These things enhance the quality of life; increase self-esteem and a feeling of being part of society.
People with disabilities seeking employment have a desire to be employed and be accepted and included in the workspace. This is where Action 4 the blind and disabled can assist. We are a well established NGO that train and encourage people with disabilities to be rehabilitated and employed.
The blind and sight impaired have the highest unemployment rate within disability groups. Workplace prejudice disables more than the disability itself. This a major reason for blind people in Denmark being unemployed.
There is much speculation about what blind people can do. In interviews blind job seekers are asked akward unnecessary questions, such as toilet capabilities if they can move around without getting injured. Added to that, there is a misconception that a blind person will replace a seeing person out of pity or obligation – even if they can’t do the job.
Employees and colleagues need to do the following:
#1. Educate yourself about blindness
Ask what their needs are in different situations. We prefer that you do not use the word “visually impaired” and rather “visual impairment”. Some people are born with a visual impairment and some experience sight loss as a result of an accident. Some may lose their sight due to a medical condition.
#2. Be Supportive
Show your co-worker who is visually impaired that you are open to talking about disability and understand what support you should offer. Some adjustments may need to be put in place to make the workplace more comfortable. Offer support but don’t just assume the co-worker can’t do a certain task.
#3. Practice thoughtful communication
When writing, ask your co-worker what format they prefer – large print or computer-based print. Give paperwork ahead of meetings. You will find that blind or visually impaired co-workers will ask you to send an electronic copy in advance.