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How will we convince employers to recruit blind people unless we do it ourselves?

How will we convince employers to recruit blind people unless we do it ourselves?

As is the case with many who begin losing their sight while working, I appreciate just how cruel the labour market can be to people with sight loss. Hard won skills can be written-off, and the inability of employers to comprehend how a blind person manages to do things creates substantial barriers to acquiring work, and indeed keeping it.

The figures speak for themselves. Unemployment in the general UK population is at 5.2%, and has been under 5.5% for over a year – a fact also true for the United States. Yet in both the UK and U.S., unemployment among the blind and visually impaired working-age population sits stubbornly at 66% or below.

I wondered if the fact the U.S. and Britain have similar headline statistics has some structural basis – perhaps a third of working-age blind people will always struggle and two thirds will fail? No, I can’t accept that, and I’ll tell you why. I was recently a guest at a reception organised by Lord Low and Action for Blind People at the House of Lords, along with some fellow VI attendees – many of whom I’m getting to know well. One guy in particular stood out to me; before losing his sight he was a doctor in a London hospital. He is now one of the two thirds of VI people in the UK that are out of work.

Don’t get me wrong; Guide Dogs and Action are doing a sterling job in helping him get things sorted, but I beg the question –  How can we make people realise the modern British economy cannot afford to have that skill-set lost to the NHS?

Sadly, I don’t have an answer yet, but the very question prompts me to consider what can practically be done. Miriam Martin (CEO of Action) made a positive start at the event, asking all employers present to take a VI work placement. Here here! Thomas Pocklington Trust will back that.

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