People with a sensory loss face significant barriers to work. For example, a recent survey of employers revealed that 75% of respondents would sooner employ an ex-convict than a person with vision loss.
A person who is Deaf or has hearing loss is FOUR TIMES more likely to be out of work than a hearing person. And yet people with a hearing loss or who are deaf have the same aspirations and work ethic as someone who is hearing.
People registered as blind or partially sighted are nearly FIVE TIMES more likely to be unemployed for five years or more than the general population.
A person who is profoundly Deaf may use BSL (British Sign Language) as their first language and may be unable to read or write fluently in English, but very few employers publish their vacancies in a subtitled video, or in BSL.
Most vacancies require applicants to complete an online application form and submit a written CV but many people with a visual impairment will be digitally excluded because of poor accessibility features, caused by a lack of sensory loss awareness amongst those designing online applications.
Perhaps the greatest barrier faced by people with a sensory loss is mistaken and out-of-date employer attitudes. People with a sensory loss are NOT automatically a “health and safety risk” or an additional cost. It may be that a typical modification in the workplace to accommodate someone with a sight loss is as simple as “don’t leave bags in the pathway; don’t leave mugs near the edge of your table”; a person with a hearing loss may need only an adapted telephone and colleagues who are “deaf aware” to be completely effective and safe in the workplace.