Employers' guide to visual impairment (blindness)
Visual impairment is when a person experiences some degree of irretrievable sight loss which cannot be corrected using glasses or contact lenses. There are two main categories of visual impairment – partially sighted, or sight impaired, where the level of sight loss is either moderate blindness. Or severe sight impairment, where the level of sight loss is so severe that a person is unable to complete any activities that rely on eyesight.
Impact of a visual impairment
- Some people may use a guide dog or white cane. Other employees may be starting to experience some difficulties but not realise they are developing a visual impairment. For example, losing peripheral vision, vision becoming cloudy or “holes” in their vision. Sudden or recently acquired visual impairments can have a significant emotional impact and may also affect family and personal relationships. In some cases, individuals can experience social isolation or a loss of independence.
- Recruiting people with visual impairments
- Explain the proposed recruitment and selection process to the individual and ask them about any adjustments or support needs they need within the process.
- Communications sessions can be arranged to help employers support visually impaired people. Investigate what specialist partners exist locally to offer practical advice and support.
Supporting staff with visual impairments
- Risk assess the role and modify if reasonable.
- Consider asking Access to Work (external site) for support with travel.
- Provide information in alternative formats.
- Provide a safe area for a guide dog if required and remind colleagues there is a protocol around having a guide dog in the workplace.
- If a guide dog is being used, ensure arrangements are in place for the dog to be exercised as required.
- Contact Access to Work for advice on adaptations to the workplace.
Useful information about visual impairments
You might need to make some adjustments to help your employees.These could include specialist equipment like chairs and IT equipment. Grants are available through Access to Work (external site) to help to cover the cost of items that are identified as necessary to support employees who are disabled or have a health condition.