Sight loss in the UK: building equal opportunities for the visually impaired
How the Vision Foundation and IICF are working together in the UK to help
Across the UK, there are roughly 2,190,000 people living with sight loss. 424,000of those people are of working age. In general, only 27% of working age blind or partially sighted people are in work, compared to 51% of disabled people and 75% of the public. Of those that are living with severe sight loss, 90% are not currently able to work. With sight loss affecting millions both across the UK and the world, Vision Foundation was formed to serve as an advocate for these individuals living with sight loss, including assisting them in the workplace.
In 1921, The Greater London Fund for the Blind was founded to provide a voice for blind and partially sighted people in London. Now, as Vision Foundation, we work to build awareness of the challenges of sight loss and build a society where those living with sight loss are treated as equal citizens.
According to our data, 23% percent of employers would not be willing to make adaptations to their current workplace to employ a blind or partially sighted person, despite the Equality Act of 2010. Only 40% percent of employers are confident that their recruitment processes are accessible to blind or partially sighted people and 90% of employers stated they believe it would be difficult or impossible to employ a visually impaired person. Sight loss should not be a limiting factor for employment today, yet in our workplaces it is still seen as a challenge.
As an organisation, we work to empower blind and partially sighted people in London and support organisations dedicated to advocating for our community. In our history, we’ve granted more than £30 million to sight loss organisations throughout London. Beyond grant funding, we also conduct comprehensive research and insight work to learn more about what issues are currently impacting the visually impaired community. Further, we work to expand the capacity of the nonprofits we collaborate with by connecting them with each other for valuable meetings, trainings and events.
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) plays a critical role in our efforts. In past years, they’ve helped us work with blind and partially sighted students by awarding us grant funding for our projects providing support, team-building challenges and interview prep to help improve their chances of securing their dream job. IICF volunteers have also regularly participated in our programs, from helping with mock interviews to offering career development tips and counsel.
This Week of Giving, IICF will be supporting the Vision Foundation as we partner with Blind in Business for insight sessions dedicated to educating young visually impaired students about the opportunities available in the insurance industry. In the morning, several speakers, including a diversity specialist, will host a panel highlighting how a career in insurance can be rewarding and provide expertise on what pathways are available to start working in the industry. They will also share some insight into the processes around disability disclosure and what happens when a candidate discloses their disability on application forms.
Afterwards, the students will have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A. Then, they’ll have a networking lunch, where students will be able to interact with insurance professionals to learn about their careers and background. At the end of the day, the sessions will conclude with a short set of mock interviews and pitching challenges conducted with students designed to build confidence and self-belief.
We’re very grateful to have the support of the IICF as we embark on another endeavor to support the visually impaired community. This Week of Giving, please join us as we work to continue to build a more inclusive and accessible workforce and environment for those living with sight loss. To learn more about us, please visit www.visionfoundation.org.uk.