Blind and sight impaired candidates can be brilliant members of your team. But if your workplace isn't accessible then you may be missing out on potentially excellent team members. Being accessible to sight impaired and blind people can be a bit counterintuitive for those who've not collaborated with them before. However just a few simple changes can help you attract candidates who feel they'll be at home in your organisation.
Supporting blind people in the workplace
Blind and sight impaired professionals, or employees with any disability, are your best advisors in terms of accommodations. Desk and computer workers will often bring screen magnifiers, Braille keyboards, or voice-to-text software they're used to. Or, they'll know what is most needed to help them succeed. As an employer, your role is to provide these reasonable accommodations. Government programmes are often available to help defray cost of accommodations to employers. It's important to be guided by your employee, rather than paternalistically deciding what will best help them.
Avoid or modify visual-only communication
There's nothing like a good idea session with a whiteboard, right? Wrong. The only benefit sight impaired and blind team members get there is the whiff of dry-erase markers. Use parseable characters that screen readers can interpret instead. In meetings, everyone should introduce themselves, or at least say they're present, so colleagues who can't see know they're there. If a new person comes in late to the meeting they should follow the same protocol. Avoid handwritten or printed-only memos - make sure important information can be interpreted by assistive software. And make sure signage is high contrast and in a large font.
Remember the little things
Sight cues are so ubiquitous that it's easy to forget that not everyone has them. Announce yourself when you're a good distance away from colleagues who might not be able to see you. Say hello and who you are before conversing and let them know when you're leaving after a chat. Give paperwork out well in advance, as it might be a slower process to take information in with a magnifier or assistive software.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People offers thorough, detailed, legally compliant advice for line managers and employers. Their website and specialists can help you ensure your organisation will attract excellent blind and sight impaired candidates. If you're interested in recruiting colleagues who take diversity and inclusion as seriously as your company, fill out your job search profile at VERCIDA today.