‘Institutionalised discrimination’ is hindering employment of the blind

More than 90 per cent of UK employers may be breaking the law by
discriminating against blind and partially-sighted jobseekers, according to the
Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB).

In a report released last week, 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 630,000 vacancies in the UK, three-quarters of blind and
partially-sighted people remain unemployed because of "institutionalised
discrimination" among employers, the RNIB said.

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"Ignorance and outdated attitudes are preventing blind and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 hasn’t improved over the past 10 years, despite the DDA and
government schemes such as Access to Work, according to the RNIB report.

It found 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 on the equipment,
technology and services available to help people with sight problems at work.

The RNIB is also calling on the Government to provide more funds for Access
to Work, and to promote the scheme more widely to ensure all businesses are
aware of it.

By Daniel Thomas

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