Public Policy and Research
One of TAVIP’s roles is to champion greater access to technology for people with a visual impairment, and to increase the number of visually impaired people in work.
Here are some reports on public policy and research in relation to digital inclusion, access to technology and employment.
Sight Loss and Technology Briefing
This briefing has been produced and published on behalf of the VI Charity Sector Partnership working group on technology, which TAVIP is part of. It brings together existing evidence on the role and uptake of technology and digital by blind and partially sighted people. Details of the sector partners can be found at the end of the briefing.
Published October 2021.
Talent and Technology Report
The report was produced by Policy Connect on behalf of the The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. It recognises the enormous potential of assistive technology to ensure access to work for disabled people. “The inquiry has seen first-hand its powerful benefits, with examples including a visually-impaired person using a screen reader to access a recruiting site, a person with Muscular Dystrophy using a mouth stick to navigate an application form, and an autistic person using a specialised app to help them travel to an interview.
Unfortunately, it has also heard difficult stories of disabled people unable to look for and obtain work, due to inaccessible technologies, poor digital practices by organisations, and a lack of skills. Disabled people are repeatedly shut out of the very schemes designed to offer a starting point in careers, such as apprenticeships or employment support through the job centre.
The pandemic has changed the way we work and thereby shone an even brighter light on existing digital inequalities. Urgent action is required to ensure the future world of work is accessible to all.
It is against this background that this report makes recommendations to government, education providers and employers – on how to ensure the world of work is accessible to everyone.
1. The Government should appoint and empower a National Assistive Technology Champion.
2A. Education providers should ensure careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) and disability support and guidance is joined-up so that education leavers know how to access AT and support to enable their transition into employment.
2B. The DfE should produce and promote guidance and resources for education providers on assistive technology and workplaces and preparing for employment.
3. The DfE and DWP should collaborate to ensure that disabled people on work placements/traineeships/apprenticeships are able to use assistive technology from Day One of their placements.
4A. The government should take advantage of existing JobCentre Plus (JCP) structures to identify and remove digital barriers to employment for JCP customers.
4B. The DWP should recognise digital access as a key enabler of employment for all customers, including those who are disabled.
5A. The government should improve targeting of disability support schemes to employers and employees who need them most.
5B. The government should take advantage of existing networks, such as Disability Confident, to skill up employers on digital accessibility and inclusive recruitment practices
5C. Employers should ensure their recruitment and on-boarding practices are digitally accessible and inclusive by following guidance produced by Disability Confident Leaders.
6. The government should measure the success of Access to Work’s grants according to the impact on customers.”
Published July 2021
Employment Facts and Stats 2020 Report
This document by RNIB sets out the key facts, stats and trends on the employment situation of blind and partially sighted people.
Some of the key findings include:
There is a significant employment gap between blind and partially sighted people and the general population. The employment rate is 76% in the general population, 51% amongst the disabled population excluding sight loss and 27% for people registered blind and partially sighted.
Several factors influence the likelihood of being in work: age; educational attainment; severity of sight loss; additional disabilities and general health.
Registered blind and partially sighted people with a degree or higher still only have the same chance of getting a job as someone with no qualifications in the general public.
The age at which someone experiences sight loss influences the challenges they face, either in entry to the job market or job retention. People born blind or who lost their sight in childhood are less likely to ever enter the labour market, with 76% of this group ever having a job compared to 96% of people who lost their sight over the age of 30. However, it is very likely other factors influence this such as additional disabilities.
See My Skills, Breaking the cycle of unemployment for blind and partially sighted people.
This report by The Vision Foundation sets out a roadmap to ensure that everyone, sighted or blind, has the chance to enjoy the independence, purpose and meaning that employment can bring.
“Blind and partially sighted people do the vast majority of the jobs that sighted people do. They might do them a little differently – using specialist technology or admin support – but they do them successfully ” says Dr Olivia Curno, Chief Executive, Vision Foundation. In my role I’ve worked alongside blind or partially sighted politicians, journalists, lawyers, presenters, teachers, fundraisers, professors, artists, authors, actors, bankers, CEOs, entrepreneurs and chefs. But these success stories are far too few. In fact, if you’re a blind adult of working age in the UK, there is only a 1 in 4 chance that you’re working. That means that over 300,000 blind and partially sighted people are currently excluded from the workplace.
The lack of understanding about visual impairment by employers and Jobcentre Plus staff are major barriers to employment. The research highlighted the importance of working with employers and service providers to educate them to overcome negative attitudes.
The research also highlighted the importance of individual assessments to identify the support required and bespoke programmes to enable their participation in the labour market. This might include, for example, support to develop key skills (such as mobility and orientation or computer skills), counselling to help in acceptance of their visual impairment or support to develop self- advocacy skills.
Published July 2021.