There is a wealth of talent available to employers from within the vision impaired community

On World Sight Day today, we’re asking employers to give equal opportunity to people with vision loss when considering candidates for employment.

The National Disability Authority reports that people with disabilities are only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age and, according to statistics from the National Council for the Blind, there is an unemployment rate of approximately 84% among working age people with sight loss in Ireland.

Kevin kneels beside Guide Dog Myles
Kevin kneels beside Guide Dog Myles

Lean Kennedy, our Advocacy and Policy Coordinator, suggests that there is no reason why these stats can’t be improved upon.

“There is a wealth of talent available to employers across Ireland from within the vision impaired community and a number of our are enjoying very successful careers.”

She explains that some blind and vision impaired people can feel locked out of employment opportunities because of their disability.

It’s our aim to empower our clients and equip them with the support they need when accessing job opportunities. We do this in a variety of ways, including our Next Step Programme which helps clients prepare for the transition from school to college and college to work.

Kevin & Guide Dog Myles out for a walk
Kevin & Guide Dog Myles out for a walk

Advocacy and Communications Manager for the Asthma Society, Kevin Kelly, talks about how his Guide Dog Myles was a very welcome addition to the team when he began his career as a researcher with the Newstalk breakfast team.

After Newstalk the corridors of Leinster House beckoned as Kevin took up a position as a Parliamentary Assistant.  He explains that “Leinster House was another environment in which Myles thrived in moving from Guide Dog extraordinaire to Parliamentary Pooch”.

Kevin Kelly’s philosophy in life is “get up and get on”. Despite losing his sight in his teens, Kevin left his home town in Donegal to study in Dublin.

His first year in university, studying Journalism in DCU, was difficult as he was not familiar with his surroundings, but this all changed when Kevin got his Guide Dog Miles. “I could not have had the career I have enjoyed were it not for Myles. He gives me confidence and independence.”

The Government’s comprehensive employment strategy for people with disability, which is a 10-year strategy published in 2015, highlights that work has a central role in most people’s lives, offering meaning and purpose, social contacts and supports, social identity and status, involvement, purposeful activity, and use of time and sense of personal achievement as well as income.

World Sight Day 2017 is an opportunity for us to remind employers about the benefits of diversity in the workforce. We’d also like to thank the public for their continued financial support, which enables people with a vision impairment to live fully independent lives.

To show your support for us on World Sight Day click to donate, or if you would like to receive more information on employment accessibility for people with vision impairment, please contact Lean Kennedy ([email protected])