Understanding Blind Employees – 5 steps

Understanding blind employees can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what their capabilities are.  People who are blind shouldn’t be excluded from the workplace and be discriminated against.

Here are a 5 steps to understanding blind employees:

#1.  Learn about blindness

Ask them what they need for different tasks. There are certain things they do not appreciate, such as being called a blind person.  It is polite to rather refer to them as a person with visual impairment. People with visual impairments experience different difficulties due to their condition. So its good to ask what they need to work comfortably.

Here are a few resources about different types of blindness:

  #2.  Be a supportive employee

Let your employee know that you are open to talking about disability and what support they need and what adjustments you can put in place to make them more at ease.

#3.  Communicate in a thoughtful manner

Ask your co-worker what format of writing they prefer such as computer based or large print.  Try giving them documents and paperwork prior to meetings.

Most of your employees who are blind or partially sighted will need an electronic copy.  This allows them to have it printed out and read directly from their computer.

#4.  Recognise practical support your co-worker may need

When implementing adjustments for a co-worker that is blind, it is appropriate to ask them for input. Action offers advise on workplace adjustments such as:

  • Lighting
  • Specialist aids and equipment
  • Mobility and orientation

#5.  Every employee is unique

There isn’t one size fits all when it comes to supporting employees who are blind.  Be supportive but always ask for their input. Some employees may discuss disability while others refuse.  Be sensitive and don’t push.

For more information about training that we offer, please contact Elsie Botha on 011 763 3366 or elsie@action4.org.za and Stephen Bergers on 011 763 2429 or stephen@action4.org.z