January 4th marks World Braille Day. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges faced by visually impaired individuals but to also encourage employers and governments to create opportunities for the blind. The day celebrates Louis Braille, who became blind after a childhood accident and at the age of just 15, created the system known as Braille. It’s now used in numerous settings the world over.
According to the RNIB, more than two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, and an estimated 285 million people are living with sight loss worldwide, with 39 million people who are blind and 246 million people who are partially sighted. Anyone could experience sight loss at any age.
In addition, the number of people in the UK with sight loss is set to increase dramatically. It is predicted that by 2050 the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to over four million. (ENEI – Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion)
For the visually impaired, life under lockdown has posed several issues in terms of independence and isolation, especially for people who rely on the use of touch to communicate their needs and access information. The pandemic has revealed how critically important it is to produce essential information in accessible formats, including in Braille and audible formats. COVID-19 has also highlighted the importance of digital accessibility to ensure digital inclusion of all people.
Osborne Thomas is happy to give guidance to our clients based on our knowledge of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Working conditions which are inclusive to all ensure that no candidate or group of people is disadvantaged.
To help support employees/colleagues who are blind or visually impaired, there are numerous things organisations can do which include:
- Work-based assessments
- Improving the quality of lighting
- Offering support workers
- Access technology software
Utilising signs in Braille is also an important factor in making the workplace accessible. They should include information, such as instructions to ‘keep door closed’; Directional, pointing the way to services such as ‘reception’ or ‘toilet’; and Locational, describing a place such as ‘exit’ or ‘stairs’.
If your employee’s impairment amounts to a disability and their needs are not met by the reasonable adjustments you are required to make, further assistance may be available to them under the Government’s Access to Work scheme.