World Braille Day: Ensuring Workplace Support for Blind or Visually Impaired Employees

On World Braille Day, let's shine a light on the importance of promoting accessibility and independence for our blind and visually impaired colleagues. Ensuring equal opportunities in the workplace is a shared responsibility.

As World Braille Day approaches on January 4, 2024, it serves as a poignant reminder for businesses worldwide to reevaluate their commitment to accessibility and independence for employees who are blind or visually impaired. Beyond acknowledging this day, it’s crucial for employers and colleagues to actively support individuals with visual impairments in the workplace, while also understanding the legal requisites that mandate such support.

In Malta, the rights and support for blind or visually impaired employees align with broader international conventions and national legislation that prioritize inclusivity and accessibility in the workplace. Despite the capabilities of blind and visually impaired individuals to excel in various professional settings, there remains a notable gap between the employment rate of these individuals and the general working population. Statistics show that one in four registered blind and partially-sighted individuals of working age are employed, whereas this number stands at approximately three in four for the general working population.

Recognizing the diverse challenges faced by blind or visually impaired employees is essential. These challenges can encompass difficulties with transportation to and from work, drafting and reading documents, navigating unfamiliar office spaces, recognizing colleagues or clients, using electronic devices, and often coping with psychological impacts associated with their condition.

The Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are legally bound to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ ensuring that individuals classified as disabled under the Act aren’t substantially disadvantaged compared to their peers.

Visual impairment, ranging from certified blindness to partially sighted conditions, automatically qualifies as a disability under this Act. Consequently, employers have a legal obligation to identify and implement reasonable adjustments both in the workplace and throughout the recruitment process. These adjustments might include:

  • Structuring meetings for verbal communication to convey vital information, minimizing reliance on visual aids.
  • Provision of specialist software such as screen magnification, screen reading, and dictation tools.
  • Access to specialized equipment like larger screens or high-visibility keyboards.
  • Braille devices and appropriate training in their use.
  • Flexibility regarding working hours to accommodate travel needs for blind or visually impaired employees.
  • Allowing time off for medical appointments.

Understanding the individualized nature of visual impairment is crucial

Conditions like glaucoma narrow the field of vision, causing random visual blanks, whereas age-related macular degeneration results in gradual central vision loss. Therefore, the required support and adjustments would differ significantly between employees with distinct conditions.

Failure to implement reasonable adjustments could result in discrimination claims under the Act, potentially leading to compensation and awards for injury to the feelings of the affected employee.

In addition to legal compliance, fostering an inclusive environment demands diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training. Educating employees on proper conduct, such as identifying themselves when interacting with blind or visually impaired colleagues, is paramount. Rather than assuming needs, employers must engage in dialogue with each employee to grasp their specific requirements based on their condition.

Ultimately, employers hold the responsibility to create a safe, inclusive, and supportive workspace for blind or visually impaired employees. Effective communication and personalized consideration of individual needs form the cornerstone of achieving this goal. Taking the time to engage with visually impaired employees ensures that the reasonable adjustments made align with each employee’s specific condition and requirements, fostering an environment where everyone can thrive irrespective of their visual abilities.

Broadwing Recruitment

Enhancing our online system is a continuous endeavour aimed at optimizing the candidate experience we provide. Broadwing Recruitment is committed to creating an inclusive website that accommodates blind or visually impaired users and involves adhering to certain best practices for accessibility.

Join Our Award-Winning Team

Broadwing's expert-driven service would hold its own against a nationally saturated market, being the leader in Malta offering complete recruitment solutions and a favourite among job seekers, through the constant drive for excellence.

Here are some facts and policies pertinent to blind or visually impaired employees in Malta:

1. Equality and Human Rights Legislation

Malta has legislation akin to the Equality Act 2010 in the UK, emphasizing the rights and support for individuals with disabilities, including visual impairments, in the workplace. The Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act, among other legislative measures, ensures that reasonable adjustments are made by employers to accommodate employees with disabilities, including blindness or visual impairment.

2. Accessibility Standards

The Maltese government has been actively promoting accessibility standards in public spaces, transportation, and workplaces. This includes provisions for accessible infrastructure and technology to assist visually impaired individuals, aligning with the principles of inclusion in the workplace.

3. Employment Support Services

Malta offers employment support services for individuals with disabilities, facilitating their integration into the workforce. These services often involve job coaching, skills training, and guidance tailored to the specific needs of blind or visually impaired individuals seeking employment.

4. Specialized Education and Training

Malta emphasizes specialized education and training programs catering to the needs of visually impaired individuals. These programs aim to equip them with the necessary skills and tools to thrive in the workplace, ensuring their employability and independence.

5. Accessibility Technology and Resources

The Maltese government and relevant organizations often provide support for the provision of accessibility technology and resources, such as screen reading software, braille devices, magnification tools, and other assistive technologies, enabling visually impaired employees to perform their duties effectively.

6. Awareness and Sensitization Campaigns

Various initiatives and campaigns focus on raising awareness and sensitizing employers, colleagues, and the public about the capabilities and needs of visually impaired individuals in the workplace. These initiatives aim to reduce stigma, promote understanding, and encourage inclusive practices within organizations.

7. Employer Obligations

Employers in Malta are legally obliged, similar to other jurisdictions, to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, ensuring they are not disadvantaged in their roles due to their visual impairment. This obligation includes providing necessary tools, adjusting work environments, and offering flexibility in work arrangements where needed.

These policies and initiatives in Malta underscore the commitment to fostering an inclusive work environment and ensuring equal opportunities for blind or visually impaired individuals. The country’s approach aligns with broader international standards advocating for the rights, dignity, and empowerment of individuals with disabilities in the workplace.

Career Industries & Sectors

We provide exclusive employment expertise within the Accounting & Finance, Online Gaming, Technology & Infrastructure, Sales & Marketing, Legal & Compliance industries as well as General Business Support.

We connect top-tier talent with industry leading employers.

What's your next move?