Diversity and inclusion in the workplace report

Are misconceptions curtailing the recruitment of blind and partially sighted people in Northern Ireland?

Shockingly, registered blind and partially sighted people with a bachelor’s degree or higher still only have the same chance of getting a job as someone with no qualifications in the general public. This is a waste of valuable talent and skills, writes Martin O’Kane, Specialist Lead for Employment at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Although general employment rates in Northern Ireland are at a record high, just one in four blind or partially sighted people are in work, compared to nearly three in four of the population as a whole. We want to work with employers in all sectors through our Eye Work Too programme to increase the diversity and inclusion of our workforce here in Northern Ireland.

Working with our team to provide a short-term work placement opportunity for one of our Eye Work Too programme participants will give you firsthand insight into the valuable contribution a colleague with sight loss can make in your organisation. 

We’re here to provide advice, support and training to make sure employers are informed and prepared to welcome blind and partially sighted colleagues, and to support any colleagues who may develop sight loss in the future.

Common myths busted

We understand that you may have concerns about taking on someone with sight loss. Often, there are common myths and misconceptions when it comes to recruiting someone who is registered blind or partially sighted.

Being registered as blind does not always mean a person has no sight at all. With over 200 different sight conditions, sight is a spectrum. 93 per cent of blind and partially sighted people can see something, with around 50 per cent being able to recognise a friend at arm’s length. Everyone sees differently, as shown in our ‘How I See’ video, available on our website.

Blind and partially sighted people can use computers and other technology to carry out their roles. For example, in computer use, if the person has some useful vision, they can use a larger monitor or software that magnifies the text on the computer screen, some of which are already inbuilt. If a person has no useful vision, they can use software to convert text on the screen into speech. 

Blind and partially sighted people can be successful in a wide variety of job roles. We recently produced a video showing how people with sight loss can succeed in a wide variety of roles across all sectors, inlcuding graphic designers, healthcare assistants, politicians, and senior managers. Danny, pictured, is an aspiring architect and recently had a very successful placement with the Education Authority’s Capital Infrastructure team in Belfast. Danny is partially sighted and uses magnification to carry out everyday tasks.

To view the video and download our new suite of free resources designed to increase employers’ knowledge and understanding about recruiting, or retaining, blind or partially sighted people, please visit our website.

Be the change — Partner with our Eye Work Too programme

We are currently looking for more employers and organisations willing to provide short term work placements for people on our Eye Work Too pre-employment programme.

Employers are crucial to changing the tide in the proportion of blind and partially sighted people having the opportunity to use and develop their talents and connect with the world of work.

Just like everyone else, it comes down to whether they have the training, skills, experience, and tools to do the job. 

Simply get in touch and we’ll be glad to talk about the support we provide and how we can work together to increase your knowledge and experience of working with someone with sight loss. Visit rnib.org.uk/EyeWorkToo for more information and to take our ‘Workplace Accessibility Healthchecker’.

Eye Work Too is part financed by the European Social Fund and the Department for Communities, under the Northern Ireland ESF Programme

T: 028 9032 9373
E: EmploymentTeamNI@rnib.org.uk
W: www.rnib.org.uk/EyeWorkToo

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