LSC’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity (DE&I) committee was set up to keep the LSC team actively engaged, learning and transforming the way we operate with DE&I in mind.
Last week, the committee attended the Ahead programme’s WAMinar: Awareness of Visual Impairments in The Workplace. AHEAD is an independent non-profit organisation working to create inclusive environments in education and employment for people with disabilities. Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) is a work placement programme which aims to promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities and build the capacity of employers to integrate disability into the mainstream workplace. The WAM programme at AHEAD are running a series of free training webinars aimed at current WAM employers and potential WAM employers.
In the first segment, members of NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) shared great insights into the challenges that those living with visual impairments face in the workplace and what can be done to make the process better for everyone.
The first potential stumbling block is the application process, but with some minor adjustments and allowances, this can be made much more inclusive for all.
- Ensure that your job adverts are screen reader friendly
- Offer alternative ways to apply – reCAPTCHAs and long forms that do not offer the ability to save an application can complicate the application process
- Offer space to disclose a disability – while it is up to the individual whether they disclose their disability, there is a big discrepancy when it comes to employer expectations on disclosure vs the number of employers who offer space to disclose
- Pre-interview questionnaires – if your company requires pre-interview questionnaires it’s essential that allowances and assistance be made available to those who require it e.g., if part of the questionnaire includes visual queues such as colour, this can be a potential pitfall for those with colour-blindness
Review your interview process with DE&I in mind and ask in advance whether the interviewee has any requirement for assistance or allowances that will help them throughout the interview process. Some questions to think about in advance:
- Will the interview be held remotely or in person, and if the latter, how readily available is suitable transport to the office for the interviewee?
- Does the individual need onsite assistance or allowances?
- In the interview itself – whether online or in person – each individual should introduce themselves, with a brief description of how they look. Each time an interviewer speaks, start by stating who is speaking to help the interviewee track whom they are speaking with.
If your interview includes a presentation or requires documents to be read, make allowances for this, be it time, assistance or making the documents more accessible etc.
Pre-Onboarding and Onboarding
Pre-onboarding considerations around the workplace need to be made. The best way to do this is to reach out to the NCBI and work with them to ensure that the workplace can be adapted to meet the needs of the individual. Each assessment is on a case-by-case basis and resulting adaptations to the workplace will be unique to the person being hired. There are grants available to Employers looking to adapt their workplace to accommodate those who have disabilities.
Onboarding materials must be considered too – are there visual elements where individuals with impaired sight might struggle, is the material screen reader-friendly, and where can accommodations be made/ will assistance be required?
On the Webinar , we also got an insight from Bobbie Hickey who has amassed a following on TikTok while sharing her experience in working with her first guide dog and about accommodations made onsite for her and her dog Josie, as well as the challenges she faces (particularly around transit to and from work). The message shared was key – employing staff with disabilities can bring so much more to a workplace than just another employee – each individual brings their own insights and perspectives to the workforce. Beyond that, when dealing with people with visual impairments – be it in the workplace or in everyday life, don’t be afraid to ask questions (politely of course!). There is a lot of misunderstanding and assumptions around visual impairment – particularly for those who are legally blind but have partial sight.