A survey by Vision Australia has found that 83% of employers “lack confidence” in hiring a person who is blind or has low vision. Misconceptions about their capabilities remain one of the biggest reasons why the full-time employment rate for this cohort, as of 2018, was just 24%.
This is despite the fact that people who are blind or have low vision are proven to be highly capable employees, and the federal Employment Assistance Fund facilitates workplace modifications and job-specific training when it is required, at no cost to employers.
Various initiatives are underway which may help improve employer attitudes toward people who are blind or have low vision. Blind Citizens Australia, for example, has received funding for a second round of its Eye to the Future project, aiming to change employers’ perceptions through internships, conversations and online resources.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Ben Gauntlett recently launched IncludeAbility, which is supported by a number of high-profile businesses committing to employing more people with disability.
State, territory and federal disability ministers have agreed that one of the targeted action plans in Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031, due for release later this year, should relate to employment.
In Vision 2020 Australia’s submission last year regarding the strategy, we argued that governments at all levels should lead by example, committing to quotas for disability employment, and ensuring all procurement processes prioritised accessibility.