Visually Impaired People’s Access To Employment: Summary Of Findings

Medical News Today (UK), Mar. 8, 2009

This summary report presents findings from Network 1000 Survey 2. The data
was collected during interviews with 503 visually impaired people of working
age between November 2006 and January 2007.
All the participants were registered as either blind or partially sighted
and lived in Great Britain. Sampling and analysis accounted for the age
distribution of the visually impaired population.

The summary focuses upon data relating to employment. A full report is
available on the VISION 2020 UK website listed at the end of this document.

The report presents data in relation to:

  • 1) Overview of employment status;
  • 2) Services received by those currently in work;
  • 3) People who are not in work;
  • 4) Barriers and enablers to employment.

1. Overview of employment status

Overall employment rates

Employment rate amongst the population of working age people who are
registered blind or partially sighted is estimated as 33%. This figure is
approximately the same as the estimate based on Network 1000 Survey 1
(2005). In terms of differences across ages, the highest proportion of
respondents in employment is found in the 30-49 age group (44%) then the
18-29 group (at
33%) and the lowest proportion in the 50-64 group (only 22%).

People who described themselves as ‘long term sick or disabled’ are the
biggest group within the working aged visually impaired population (36%).
Again this is linked with age – 17%, 32% and 45% in the 18-29, 30-49 and
50-64 age groups respectively. The overall proportion of people who
described themselves as ‘long term sick or disabled’ has grown since Survey

As we might expect, respondents in the 18-29 category were much more likely
to classify themselves as a student (22%) than in the other two age groups,
but also unemployment was higher in this age group (22% compared with around
10% in other age groups, and overall 12%).
High proportions of people aged between 50 and 64 years of age described
themselves as retired (19%) although they were
not old enough to receive a state pension.

The employment rate amongst visually impaired people is very low compared to
the general working age population. Overall, three quarters of the general
population reported being in some form of employment (General Household
Survey 2006; ONS, 2008). Visually impaired individuals of working age are
much more likely to describe themselves as being unemployed, long term sick
or disabled, or retired than those in the general population.


Reproduced from