As an employer, it is your duty to accommodate, within reason, blind employees or employees with any form of mental or physical impairment, provided the impairments do not affect their qualifications or abilities to perform the duties of their job or cause your business undue harm.
As per the guidelines provided in the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important that recruiters and managers understand their responsibilities towards hiring and employing individuals who are blind.
Depending on the type of job, the blind employee takes up, the costs and considerations involved will vary considerably for the employer. For example, a software programmer may need to have Braille keyboards, telephones and any other equipment, which they may require, whilst other positions may call for employers to install handrails and allow for guide dogs in the workplace.
Technologies to incorporate into the workplace
Here are some technologies and features that employers can integrate into their business to help accommodate employees who are blind:
- Screen magnification software
- Screen reader software
- Electronic magnifiers to enlarge printed material
- Portable devices to scan and read text aloud
Additional measures to take
Thorough training may be required for employees who are blind so they are fully equipped to be able to use the software and hardware required to perform the duties of their job. It is also a prudent approach for employers to arrange training and awareness programs for existing employees so they are educated on how to support and communicate with a blind colleague.
Why hire a blind employee?
There are many schemes and organizations available for both blind persons, and employers to gain support. The Workplace Modification Scheme (Employment Pathway Fund – EPF) works to financially support companies that need to purchase specialist equipment, furniture, and software to accommodate their new staff. This significantly alleviates the financial pressure on employers to get the right equipment for disabled staff.
Many employers who have hired blind employees have found that the retention rate and loyalty of blind employees is to be credited. In many cases, employers have found their staff with disabilities are more hard working and dedicated that other staff members.