Access to Work: what support is available for blind and partially sighted people?
Access to Work (AtW) is an employment support scheme run by Jobcentre Plus. The scheme provides advice, practical and financial support to disabled people to enable them to start or stay in work.
Access to Work is available in England, Scotland, and Wales. There are different employment schemes available in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
In this blog we outline the support available through Access to Work and what the options are for blind and partially sighted people when starting a new job role.
Special aids and equipment
There is a variety of special aids and equipment available to blind and partially sighted people, but the most common are screen reading and magnification software.
AtW can provide funding to your employer to purchase any software or equipment you need to carry out your role. If you are a JAWS user and your role requires using a PC, this will be covered as part of your claim. Similarly, magnification software programmes like ZoomText, will also be covered by the funding.
If you are looking at roles that might require you to be able to read information while you work and the use of a screen reader does not meet these needs, the cost of a braille display can also be covered by your AtW claim.
For further information on the types of special aids and equipment available for the workplace check out Vital Tech.
AtW will also cover the cost of employing a support worker to assist with elements of a role which might be difficult due to your level of sight. Support workers can help with a range of activities. For example, if your role requires accessing a large amount of handwritten information a support worker can be employed to act as a reader to enable you to access the information.
If a role requires you to carry out regular filing but you feel this might be difficult, this is also something you could employ somebody to support you with.
Mobility support is also something which a support worker can be employed to assist you with. If the duties and responsibilities of a role require you to attend regular meetings at external venues and you are concerned you might find it difficult finding your way to the meeting venues you could employ a support worker to provide mobility support to and from the meeting.
Travel to work
AtW can provide funding to help you get to and from your workplace. If you find it difficult to get to and from work using public transport, AtW can fund a taxi for part or all of your journey.
For example, if you need to get public transport to the location of your workplace but getting to and from the station is not possible, AtW could fund a taxi to take you from your home to the train station or from the train station to your office (and vice versa). Alternatively, if you feel you would struggle to use public transport for any of your journeys you can request AtW to fund a taxi for the entirety of your journey.
If your job requires you to attend different locations for meetings or due to elements of your work taking place at different offices, AtW can fund taxis to get you around in work. This is known as the ‘taxi in-work scheme’. You might prefer to use a support worker to act as a driver in these circumstances but if that’s not possible the taxi in-work scheme is available.
For further information on Access to Work such as checking eligibility or finding out how to apply please visit: www.gov.uk/access-to-work
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