‘Institutionalised discrimination’ hinders the blind

More
than nine in 10 UK employers may be breaking the law by discriminating against
blind and partially-sighted jobseekers, according to the Royal National
Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

In
a report released today, the RNIB said 92 per cent of employers believe it
would be “difficult or impossible” to employ someone with a sight problem,
contravening the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995.

Despite
600,000 job vacancies, three-quarters of blind and partially-sighted people
remain jobless because of “institutionalised discrimination” among employers,
the RNIB said.

Dr
Philippa Simkiss, assistant director for employment at the RNIB, said:
“Ignorance and outdated attitudes are preventing blind and partially-sighted
people from getting into work. Employers’ attitudes need to undergo a
sea-change to end this vicious circle of exclusion.”

The
situation has not improved over the past 10 years, despite the DDA and the
introduction of government schemes such as Access to Work, according to the
RNIB report.

It
showed that 37 per cent of employers are ignorant of the DDA, while the vast
majority of small businesses (97 per cent) are unaware that the Act will apply
to them from October this year.

The
RNIB has launched a campaign calling on employers to change their belief that
people with sight problems are too difficult or expensive to employ.

As
part of  the ‘Work Matters – Seeing the
Potential of Workers with Sight Loss’ campaign, the RNIB will host a series of events
for employers, staff and the general public to provide information and advice
about equipment, technology and services that are available to help people with
sight problems at work.

By Daniel Thomas

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