Thanks to a combination of new technologies and increased efforts to make workplaces accessible, there have never been more job opportunities for the blind. With more people with loss of vision entering the workplace, it is important that sighted employees take a moment to think about how they can work successfully alongside their blind and partially sighted colleagues. Check out our tips to help blind coworkers:
Three tips to help blind coworkers
Read up on sight loss
Getting to know a little more about sight loss and the kinds of issues your colleagues might face is an excellent way of demonstrating that you support them and want to accommodate their needs. There are many websites out there that can provide you with information about the medical aspects of blindness, as well as living with sight loss.
This page from MedicineNet is a good place to read up on what causes blindness and the types of treatments currently in use, and this site by the American Foundation for the Blind features some helpful facts about living with a vision condition.
Demonstrate directly that you are a supportive colleague
It is a good idea to demonstrate that you are comfortable engaging in conversation about disability as soon as you meet your new colleague. Indeed, they may be a little reluctant to talk about their sight loss if you appear to be uncomfortable talking about it.
As well as creating a more open and inclusive working environment, speaking directly to your co-worker about their blindness will stop you from making assumptions about what kinds of tasks they can and can’t take on. Do not assume that they need your assistance for everything.
Learning how to communicate with a blind colleague is important as well. The American Psychological Association suggests you putting the person first before their disability. The National Foundation for the blind advocates for using “blind person” over “Individual with blindness.” Ask your blind colleague how they wish to be addressed.
Ask your colleague about any practical support they might need
It is always a good idea to ask your blind or visually impaired colleagues about any practical adjustments that might help them complete tasks around the office. This could include screen magnification or screen reading software to operate computers.
Vision loss is different for everyone. An adaptation that helps one colleague might not be beneficial for another. It is better to ask than assume.
If you would like more tips to help blind coworkers or make your business more inclusive contact Outlook Nebraska. Come tour our facility and learn how the blind can have successful careers within your business. Contact us today to learn more.