Unemployment rate of approximately 84% among working age people with sight loss

On World Sight Day Thursday October 12th, We are asking employers to give equal opportunity to people with vision loss when considering candidates for employment and to remind them about the wealth of talent available to them from within that community.

The disability allowance in Budget 2018 has increased by €5 but according to David McCarthy, Client Services and Engagement Manager, in order to effect long term positive change for people with a disability, societal attitudes must change.

The National Disability Authority reports that people with disabilities are only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age. 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.

We aim to empower our clients and equip them with the support they need when accessing job opportunities. This is done through a variety of their services including The Next Step Programme which helps clients prepare for the transition from school to college and college to work.

Lean Kennedy, our Advocacy and Policy Coordinator explains that there is no reason why these statistics 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 clients 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.

Advocacy and Communications Manager for the Asthma Society, Kevin Kelly (pictured below) 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. “Leinster House was another environment in which Myles thrived in moving from Guide Dog extraordinaire to Parliamentary Pooch.”

Kevin & Myles having fun
Kevin & Myles having fun

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 my Guide Dog, Myles. He gives me confidence and independence”

There are a number of support services available to employers seeking guidance in this area including The National Disability Authority, The Department of Social Protection, and IBEC. We have also produced an information pack for employers with practical advice on employing someone who is blind or vision impaired.

For us, World Sight Day 2017 is an opportunity to remind employers about the benefits of diversity in the workforce. We also greatly welcomed the announcement on Tuesday of the VAT compensation scheme by Minister Paschal Donohoe.

To show your support you can click to donate or if you would like to receive more information on employment accessibility for people with vision impairment, please contact Lean Kennedy (lean@guidedogs.ie)