New Polling Reveals Nearly Half of Employers Are Excluding Blind and Partially Sighted People From The Workplace

Date posted: 31st January 2024

A YouGov poll commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment has found that many employers do not have inclusive employment practices.

The poll, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, revealed that 48% of businesses do not have accessible recruitment processes and a shocking 25% of employers said they would not be willing to make workplace adaptations to employ a blind or partially sighted person – despite this being a legal requirement.

The polling also found that many misconceptions and myths about visually impaired people’s ability to work remain pervasive. These need to be addressed urgently. 20% of businesses said that the adaptions and adjustments to make their business more accessible would be too costly. Others said they had never come across a blind person before, and therefore have never considered what they can and can’t do.

Today the APPG on Eye Health and Visual Impairment has launched an inquiry on employer attitudes and is calling on employers, charities and blind and partially sighted people to submit evidence.

Marsha de Cordova MP for Battersea and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment commented: “The findings from the YouGov poll are deeply worrying and sadly supports what we have long known – that outdated perceptions of blind and partially sighted people are putting them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to accessing the job market.

“The government repeatedly says it is committed to getting more disabled people into work, but they are failing. The disability employment gap has remained stubbornly at 30% for over a decade and the disability pay gap effectively means blind and partially sighted people work for free for 47 days of a year.

“The government must act urgently to tackle the disability employment crisis and support the APPG’s Inquiry launched today on employer attitudes.”

Charles Colquhoun, chief executive of Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “Employers have a responsibility to take steps to prevent discrimination against blind and partially sighted people. This includes recognising the benefits of having an inclusive and diverse workforce that does not exclude disabled people. Accessibility must be embedded into every part of the recruitment process. We know from our work that small changes can make a huge difference to the accessibility of the workplace. This is not something that employers should be afraid of but should embrace.”

Matt Stringer, chief executive of RNIB added: “It’s clear that the Equality Act 2010 is not understood by a significant number of employers, and as a result hundreds of businesses appear unwilling to comply with the law. Blind and partially sighted people are being held back by low levels of understanding among employers, and every day at RNIB we are seeing the impact of this on people’s quality of life. Not being in work doesn’t only mean a lack of financial independence, but also leads to lower confidence, more isolation and inequality. At the same time businesses are missing out on the vast amount of talent and expertise which blind and partially sighted employees can bring.”

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