Access to Employment


People who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision want to contribute to the labour market, but there are barriers to them achieving their aspirations. Lower educational achievement for some people and limited pre-employment opportunities restrict their employability. The abilities of people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision are often underestimated.



The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • Blind, deafblind and those with low vision should have access to job opportunities equal to everyone else. To achieve this, funding and processes for supporting disabled people into work need to be modified to reflect the changing age of the workforce, the need for more flexible working hours and specialised types of support in the workplace.
  • Government needs to regulate to create the conditions for a more inclusive workplace that favours employing the blind, deafblind and those with low vision. Employing disabled people benefits both disabled people and the economy.



When it comes to employing people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, some employers are driven away by fear of the unknown as well as fear of what they know. This can lead to thinking that hiring a person who is blind, deafblind or has low vision means lowering the bar. Alternatively, employers may fall back on a single negative experience.

Access to reliable adaptive equipment and technology is critical for blind, deafblind and low vision workers seeking to maintain their employment or self-employment or wishing to join the labour market. New Zealanders who are blind, deafblind or have low vision want to have the same choices and opportunities as everyone else to earn an income. However, the majority of working age clients are unable to fulfil their goals or contribute in the way they wish.

Blind Low Vision NZ works proactively with clients, employers, the government, disability service providers, and disabled people’s organisations on improving job prospects for blind, deafblind and low vision job seekers. As a member of the Disability Employment Forum, Blind Low Vision NZ works to address the barriers. We educate employers about the opportunity that exists within this untapped workforce. Now through access advisors, we offer a proactive and detailed programme to help employers utilise disabled workers. There is still a long way to go in getting employers, and particularly HR managers, to have the confidence and the facts to put forward a blind candidate ahead of a sighted one.


Educational Achievement

There is a disparity in the educational achievement of blind, deafblind and low vision people and the general population. In Blind Low Vision NZ 2014 Client Needs Survey, 33% of clients said that they do not have any formal qualifications, 44% of those surveyed had some secondary school qualification and 22% had a post-secondary education qualification, 7% of respondents were studying and of those studying, 16% were undertaking distance-learning programmes. Nearly 50% of respondents who completed qualifications did so with a degree of vision loss at the time.

In terms of employment, 60% of clients who were employed were in full-time work and 38% worked part time. The remainder were on short-term contract or seasonal work and 23% of clients described their jobs as “permanent.”

There is a need for hard data from a wide range of companies proving that an inclusive workforce not only works, but works well. There is a need to prove the business case that employing people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision can help business succeed, reduce costs, build morale and position companies in the private and not-for-profit sectors to better access an increasing market opportunity. Blind Low Vision NZ has an important role to play in showcasing the quantifiable benefits of the broad range of skills the blind, deafblind or low vision employee can contribute.


What Blind Low Vision NZ Will Do:

  • Focus on ensuring clients are “work ready” so they are able to maximise employment opportunities.
  • Establish a client talent pool, to provide greater opportunities for blind jobseekers and those with low vision to gain Blind Low Vision NZ roles.
  • Ensure that the requirements of blind, deafblind and low vision job seekers are understood and supported.
  • Promote Blind Low Vision NZ’s affirmative action policy, work experience opportunities and be a model employer.
  • Raise awareness of student, job seeker, and employee and entrepreneur successes within the blindness community.
  • Facilitate seminars and forums, and tap into networks where Blind Low Vision NZ clients can learn job search strategies and share information on employment experiences and successes.
  • Set up a peer mentoring programme to match people in work with those seeking employment.


What Blind Low Vision NZ Wants Government to Do:

  • Examine what can be done to increase the number of internships, trade training opportunities, apprenticeships, and iwi/Pasifika employment initiatives for young blind, deafblind and low vision workers.
  • Ensure the budget for disability employment funding meets demand.
  • Lead the implementation of accessible systems to remove barriers for employment in the government sector.
  • Ensure that legislation requires employers to make their workplaces and systems accessible and that this is best achieved through a comprehensive accessibility law applicable to public and private sectors.