With the help of a few accommodations and technologies, people who are blind or partially sighted work 100 per cent independently. The cost of hiring an employee who is blind is generally about the same as the cost of hiring a person who is sighted.
Tips for fair recruiting
The recruiting process is your first opportunity to make sure you open a job to the best possible range of candidates, including people who are blind or partially sighted. For smaller employers without a human resources team, getting this right from the outset can save you time and effort.
- Advertise jobs where people with sight loss can access them. Provide vacancy details to your local disability employment advisor or post the vacancy on an accessible website that works with screen magnifying and screen reading software.
- Make sure the application form and material for candidates are available in an accessible format like large-print or as an electronic document.
- You can ask applicants if they need any support at the interview. The applicant isn't required to disclose if they are blind or partially sighted.
- Consider including an equal opportunities or disability statement in your job ad, outlining your commitment to equality and diversity.
- Make sure that all staff involved in selection and interviews understand equality and diversity.
When meeting a person who is blind or partially sighted for the first time, you may be unsure about how to interact with them. There are some simple things you can do to help everything run smoothly and ensure the process is fair.
- After shortlisting candidates, ask applicants if there's anything they need to give them a fair interview. If they do need something, they should tell you at this stage so that you can make reasonable adjustments.
- Don't make assumptions. For example, not all people who are blind read braille and not all people who are partially sighted like a brightly lit room. Make sure you ask the candidate if they require adjustments.
- Ask if the lighting level is suitable, or if the person wants to move towards or face away from a window.
- Keep the room free of clutter and obstacles, especially on the floor.
- Offer to guide the candidate to the interview room and within the building.
- Focus on the candidate's abilities, rather than their sight loss. They should be able to explain how they go about completing tasks and getting things done.
The question of disclosure
A lot of employers aren't sure if candidates must inform them about a disability from the start. Candidates with sight loss (or any other disability) are not legally obligated to disclose that they have a disability. The question of when and how to disclose a disability to a prospective employer is a personal one for every individual.