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Published on January 29, 2008

Author: Semprone

Source: authorstream.com

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Barriers to Employment Identified by Blind and Visually Impaired Persons in New Zealand Steve La Grow and Paula Daye :  Barriers to Employment Identified by Blind and Visually Impaired Persons in New Zealand Steve La Grow and Paula Daye Slide2:  1,500 go ‘blind’ annually 11,500 RNZFB members 80% have some useful vision Slide3:  Main Obstacles Discrimination by employers Limitations of the Disability Slide4:  Our Focus Educating employers Demonstrate abilities Vocational training Slide5:  RNZFB member Sue Harris, guide dog Edward, and Vodafone’s Customer Relationship Manager, Hayley Carlisle Slide6:  Persons with a disability are generally under represented in the workplace Those with a significant visual impairment are among those most disadvantaged Even in the most developed countries only about 30% of those with a significant visual impairment are meaningfully employed (compared to 70-80% of general population). Slide7:  Rates of employment among visually impaired persons in New Zealand are similar to those reported elsewhere A recent study of 150 working age members of RNZFB found a mean rate of employment of 39% among this population (La Grow, 2003) This rate ranged from a low of 26% for those who said they had no usable vision to 65% for those who said they had a lot This compares to 40% for adults with disabilities and 70% for those with out disabilities in New Zealand (Statistics New Zealand, 2002). Slide8:  RNZFB has responded to this situation in objective 1.6 of their Strategic Plan for 2004 to 2007 in which they state: “We will assist members to secure or retain employment consistent with their skills, abilities and interests” (RNZFB, 2004) This objective is in line with objective 4 of the New Zealand Disability Strategy, and ‘Pathways to Inclusion’, a Ministry of Social Development and WINZ initiative Slide9:  In order to meet this objective, the barriers to doing so must first be made explicit so that they may be addressed The study presented here was designed to “Identify the barriers to employment experienced by members of RNZFB, and while doing so, to gather suggestions for overcoming those barriers from those most affected by them” Slide10:  Participants Inclusion criteria Registered members of RNZFB (6/24 or field of 20 degrees) Between the ages of 18 and 65 Either employed or seeking employment Agreed to participate 95 participants from a random sample of 150 met the criteria for inclusion in this study 50 males, 45 females Mean age 41.6 59 currently employed, 36 seeking employment Slide11:  Inclusion criterion was established it was determined if they felt they had ever experienced barriers to employment Those who had were asked open ended questions to Identify and describe barriers to employment, retention of employment or advancement in employment Make suggestions of ways to overcome those barriers, and to Identify the educational programme, qualification or training they had received that was of most value to their employment Slide12:  Results 79% of the sample said they had experienced barriers to employment, retention of or advancement in employment No significant differences found in the proportion of those reporting that they faced barriers to employment by sex, age, age at onset or degree of visual disability There was a significant difference found in the proportion of those reporting that they had experienced barriers to employment by employment status (Chi Square 8.38, p = .004) 55% of those currently employed experienced barriers 90% seeking employment said they experienced barriers Slide13:  Table 1: Barriers to Employment, Retention of Employment or Advancement in Career Identified by Persons with Significant Visual Disabilities Barrier N Factors arising from visual disability 57 Access issues 41 Discrimination 31 Personal attributes 20 Ignorance on the part of the employer 13 Lack of training or funding for training and retraining 8 Lack of specialized equipment or low vision aids 4 Other 6 Slide14:  Table 2: Possible Ways and Means of Overcoming Barriers to Employment Suggested by Those Most Affected by Them Suggestions N Education for employers 16 Provide better vocational services 16 Provide more and better training for adaptation 16 Increase accessibility through technology / aids 14 Provide opportunities to prove self on job 13 Improve transport 7 Other 16 Slide15:  Table 3: Education, Qualifications and Training Identified as being of Most Useful in Gaining and Keeping Employment, or Advancing in One’s Career or Job Response N On the job training &/or apprenticeship 27 Job or career specific courses 25 Tertiary qualifications 13 Slide16:  Conclusion 79% had experienced barriers to employment 180 separate statements concerning barriers were given 90% of those statements fell into five categories factors arising from the disability, access issues, discrimination, personal attributes and ignorance on the part of the employer Slide17:  87% of those centered around two themes Direct and indirect consequences of having a severe visual disability factors arising from the disability Access issues Attitudes and behaviours of potential employer Discrimination Ignorance on the part of the employer Slide18:  Direct and indirect consequences of having a severe visual disability was the most common category of barrier identifed. Included those limitations that made it difficut or impossible to do a particular job It also included secondary consequences encapsulated in the issues of physical accessibility that arise from not being able to drive and the limitations imposed by a less than pedestrian friendly infrastructure Slide19:  Attitude of the employer was second most common barrier identified Discrimination against people with a disability specfically was mentioned more often than any other single barrier. This category also included statements about employer and fellow worker attitudes and ignorance on the part of the employer. Many thought that managers believed that they were unsafe or not nearly as capable as they actually were Slide20:  All but one suggestion made for overcoming barriers clustered around three themes the provision of disability specfic training and adaptive equipment, alter potential employer attitudes towards people with disability, and provide better vocational services These three themes corresponded well with the barriers identified Slide21:  The provision of disabiltiy specific training and equipment would offset the direct and indirect consequence of having a severe visual disability The suggestion to alter employer attitude would offset negative employer attitude, and The provision of better vocational services was seen to help offset both the consequences of having a signficant visual disability and the negative attitudes of employers Slide22:  The third suggestion makes sense in light of the responses given when the participants were asked to identify the educational programme, qualification or training that they had received over the years that was most useful for gaining Employment Of 65 responses given, 80% identified job related or vocational training as being of most value on the job training, Apprenticeships, and job or career specific courses Slide23:  Summation Two things seem apparent from this study (1) The consequences of a significant vision disability does pose real barriers to employment Good quality rehabilitation and basic skills training along with appropriate adaptive technology is necessary to overcome those barriers (2) Visually disabled persons, along with others with disabilities, face discrimination in the workplace Good quality, proactive vocational training and placement services are needed to help overcome the barriers put in their way by reluctant or ignorant employers, as is an educational programme designed to change those attitudes.

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