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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 12:09 GMT
Blind 'failed' by UK disability laws
Eye test
About 4,000 employed Britons lose their sight every year
Disability laws have failed to help blind and partially sighted Britons to stay employed or get work, a leading charity has said.

Only a quarter of Britain's blind and partially sighted population have a job, the Royal National Institute for the Blind said.

The trauma of sight loss is made worse by despair of losing a job

Steve Winyard

The chances of unemployed blind people gaining employment have not improved in the past decade, an RNIB poll found.

The charity proposed the launch of disability leave to support employment chances.

The scheme, viewed as similar to maternity leave, would give people losing their sight time to retrain and learn new job skills.

About 4,000 employed Britons a year lose their sight.

And about 1,000 young people with sight deficiencies enter the job market every year with little chances of getting a decent contract, the RNIB said.

Discrimination claim

RNIB's Steve Winyard said the number of jobless visually impaired people in Britain was, at about 85,000, "totally unacceptable".

"The trauma of sight loss is made worse by despair of losing a job", Mr Winyard said.

The unemployment rate for visually impaired Britons was 2.5 times higher than the national average, said the charity, which named discrimination among employers as the main obstacle to them winning jobs.

RNIB said that half of the employers surveyed would not hire someone with sight disability.

But even visually impaired people employed are mostly doing unskilled and lower paid jobs, the charity said.

See also:

04 Mar 02 | Business
Rights 'hit women's work prospects'
28 Nov 01 | Health
NHS delays 'causing blindness'
12 Nov 01 | Health
Hope of blindness cure
21 Aug 01 | Health
Blind are short-changed
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