Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staff will now be able to access new training through an online portal, which offers information and advice to better support people with sight loss to find a job that’s right for them.
The Department for Work and Pensions has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to establish the scheme.
In addition, some jobcentres will also be kitted out with virtual reality headsets designed by RNIB, that when used with an RNIB app mean JCP staff can experience what it feels like to have sight loss.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:
“Sight loss affects two million people in the UK, so it’s vital that our staff understand the specific challenges visually impaired people can face when seeking work.
That’s why we’ve collaborated with RNIB to create learning that will help our staff better support visually impaired people to move into and thrive in work.”
Dr Chrissie Pepper, RNIB Policy Manager said:
“We are pleased to have worked with DWP to provide sight loss awareness training for jobcentre staff, as a first step towards tackling the difficulties that some blind and partially sighted people face when accessing benefits. We hope this training will lead to a better understanding from DWP and its staff about sight loss and the impact it has, leading to cases being resolved more quickly so that people can access their benefits.
We look forward to building on this by providing more in-depth training to key DWP staff, such as Disability Employment Advisors, to secure further improvements to DWP’s services for blind and partially sighted people.”
The training looks at the causes of sight loss, barriers faced by those with first-hand experience of visual impairment and the best ways to support people through their Universal Credit journey.
It also offers practical advice around guiding people with sight loss.
Some of the adjustments made to support claimants with sight loss include:
- longer appointments
- tailored support when accessing the internet and completing forms
- home visits for people unable to access the jobcentre
- additional support through the Work and Health and Access to Work programmes
To mark the launch DWP staff held an event in London attended by staff from RNIB, to showcase the training and give staff the opportunity to experience the virtual reality headsets.