National Council for the Blind Ireland - Technology and Adjustments which Improve Access to Employment
Technology and Adjustments
The Employment Equality Act asks us to make reasonable accommodation to overcome the limitations imposed by a person's disability. What is required varies from person to person, so ask your employee what he/she needs. He/She is usually the expert on how to manage the disability.
Accommodations vary from the simple:
- A dot of silicon on a switch to enable an operator align controls on a machine
- A thick felt tip marker to make file folders readable
- Control over the lighting levels by adding desk lamps, dimmer-switches or adjustable blinds.
- Strategic signs throughout a building should be in Braille and raised letters.
To the more complex:
- Computer software packages such as a voice synthesiser to read out information on the screen and a magnification system to enlarge the size of text or graphics on screen
- Specially adapted scanners to transfer printed material onto the computer
- Electronic Braille displays to enable a person read the screen via a device attached to the computer
- Extra electrical sockets and a slightly larger workstation to hold additional equipment.
There are also other ways to improve accessibility in the workplace:
Instead of sending handwritten notes between supervisors and employees or among colleagues, voice or e-mail messages can usually be sent, or if neither of these is available, and inexpensive tape recorder can be used.
For a job that requires measuring, weighing, or calculations, many different kinds of measuring and calculating devices are available that 'talk'. These include callipers, scales, tape measures, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, watches, calculators, money identifiers, and cash registers. For a job that requires travel, a person who is blind may travel with a long cane, a guide dog, or by using electronic travel aids. Some people with low vision use special telescopes to read signs when travelling. Independent travel to a variety of destinations (even remote areas without public transportation) is usually possible. People who are blind or visually impaired are often experienced at finding creative travel solutions.
The price of equipment varies considerable, depending on what the individual employee requires.
However, the Workplace/Equipment Adaptation Scheme, administered by the Department of Social Protection, provides up to € 6,348.70 to cover the cost of any adaptations needed to accommodate a person with a disability in the workplace.
The following devices could qualify for the Workplace/Equipment Adaptation Grant:
- Software for text enlargement
- Braille printers
- Speech output devices
- Special adapted scanners
- Machines that magnify printed materials (closed circuit televisions), to permit a person who has some usable vision to read memos and books and fill out forms.
The NCBI are available to assess individual requirements and advise both employers and employees on the full range of equipment and accommodations available.