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World Braille Day 2018

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4th January 2018 is World Braille Day. Braille is the system of touch reading and writing that utilises raised dots to represent the letters of the print alphabet and uses symbols to represent punctuation, mathematics and scientific characters, music, computer notation, and foreign languages. Rather than a language, Braille is a code by which all languages may be written and read. Through the use of Braille, people who are blind or visually impaired are able to review and study the written word. For those who use Braille, it is an important tool allowing them to engage with the rest of the workforce and enjoy equal opportunity with other, non visually impaired, work colleagues.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the UK’s leading charity supporting blind and partially sighted people, estimates that two thirds of working age blind and partially sighted people are not in work. The RNIB are particularly concerned that recent government research has shown that 90 per cent of employers believe that it would be impossible or difficult to employ someone with sight loss, presenting huge barriers to those who are visually impaired in terms of finding and securing work. The RNIB are campaigning for increased and improved assistive technology and a fair assessment process that accurately identifies the needs of blind and partially sighted people in the workplace.

Blindness, severe sight impairment, sight impairment and partial sightedness (provided this is certified by a consultant ophthalmologist) are deemed disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. If you employ, or are planning to employ, someone with such a visual impairment you should ensure that you are mindful of your obligation to make reasonable adjustments from the outset and throughout the period of employment.

In terms of recruitment it is likely to be a reasonable adjustment to provide information in a format that is accessible to a blind applicant. It is important to remember that a disabled applicant’s requirements will depend on their impairment and other factors.  Accessible formats could include Braille but could also include email, Easy Read, large print, audio format, and data formats for those who do not read Braille and would prefer to receive the information by another method.

Further examples of reasonable adjustments for employees who are visually impaired can be found in the Equality and Human Rights Commission Code and include facilities for an assistance dog in new/unfamiliar working areas, management instructions to be in Braille, disability equality training to all staff, access to assistive technology such as an adapted portable computer and Braille keyboards.

For more information on employing disabled employees and reasonable adjustments please contact us.