A large group of people with the focus on a man holding a cane. He is wearing sunglasses.

Information for employers

Legislation and regulation exists surrounding the employment of someone with a visual impairment, most notably the Equality Act 2010. Speak with your employee to understand their individual needs. Some issues may be easily remedied and small changes to the working environment or adjustments to responsibilities could make a big difference to their comfort, efficiency and productivity.

What employers need to know

As an employer or line manager of someone with inherited sight loss, there are a number of things you will need to know, including:

  • About the condition and how it might impact on someone’s ability to do the job they are employed to do.
  • Ways in which any such barriers might be overcome.
  • How the relevant disability discrimination legislation affects your and your employee’s rights.
  • How and when any relevant health and safety legislation can and should be applied.
  • Practical and physical changes which may need to be made to the workplace.
  • Where you, your company, or your employee can get more assistance if required.

Most people affected by loss of vision will understand there may be limits on the nature of the work they can complete. Many careers however can continue uninterrupted with reasonable adjustments, some support and the use of assistive technology.

What employers can do

Your employee will understand that you cannot be expected to manage your business entirely around the needs of one worker. Simple changes and adjustments from you and other staff can make all the difference to the way their condition impacts on their aspirations, performance and career.

  • Learn about their condition and understand the current level of visual impairment in your employee.
  • Involve your employee in discussions and decisions, this will lead to better outcomes for all.
  • Allow reasonable time off for consultations with ophthalmologists, counsellors and other health professionals.
  • Ensure that your workplace and materials are fully accessible to people with a visual impairment.
  • Being aware of someone’s visual impairment can be helpful in considering how best to support that person. However, it is important to respect your colleagues’ right to confidentiality.  You should only consider revealing details about someone’s visual impairment to others if it is necessary, and if you have their consent.
  • Learn about the Access to Work scheme.
  • Make yourself aware of the principles of disability discrimination law and your obligations
  • Be vigilant about bullying in the workplace.
  • Provide information clearly by voice as well as in writing.
  • Facilitate your employee setting up their workstation as is best for their level of sight loss.
  • Keep floors clear and reduce other hazards such as trailing cables around the workplace.
  • Complete and regularly review a risk assessment for the workplace.
  • Remember that inherited sight loss is a progressive condition and your employee’s needs may change over time.
  • Allowing an employee to amend their working hours seasonally might be helpful for some – travelling in daylight could be helpful.

Contact our Helpline

Call our Helpline on 0300 111 4000 or

Email the Helpline

Health and safety

UK health and safety legislation makes it clear both the employer and employee have a shared responsibility to protect everyone in the workplace from accidents and injuries.

A sensible approach to risk assessment is required. Risk assessment is the process and documentation by which:

  • Risks are carefully assessed in the workplace
  • Measures to reduce risks are identified
  • Actions to reduce risks are documented and implemented
  • This cycle of continual improvement is maintained

The principles of the risk assessment process apply in all work places, from a simple low risk environment such as an office to a high risk environment such as in a factory using sophisticated heavy machinery.

Someone with a visual impairment may represent a risk or be exposed to unsuitable risks in certain jobs, and should these risk factors be identified then changes will need to be made. It is not acceptable however to claim health and safety concerns as a way of removing someone from their post or position. Any reasonable adjustments that can be made should be undertaken.

The best source of information for you as a UK employer is the Health & Safety Executive website.

Some suggested further reading for employers or managers wishing to learn more about inherited sight loss and visual impairment in the workplace.