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Underemployment of people with sight loss - survey

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

People with sight loss are significantly less employed full-time than their sighted counterparts, according to a recent survey from the CNIB Foundation, Vision Australia and the Blind Foundation of New Zealand. The results were nearly half that of the national full-time employment rates for the general public in each of the countries. New Zealand had the highest full-time employment rate for people who are blind or partially sighted at only 32%, followed by Canada at 28% and Australia at 24%.

Additionally, the data showed a strong correlation between mentorships programs and acquiring full-time employment for people with sight loss in all three countries. Adults who are blind or partially sighted were more than 1.5 times as likely to have a full-time job if they had a mentor related to their work. The survey results also showed a strong correlation between a person's educational background and their ability to land full-time work. Table 1: Educational background versus full-time employment by country

Employed full-time with a high school diploma or less / Employed full-time with a post-secondary school degree

Canada / 5.5% / 35%

Australia / 10.6% / 28%

New Zealand / 15% / 42%

The data further showed people with sight loss who participated in team-oriented and leadership-building community engagement activities were more likely (1.92 to 3.5 times) to be employed full time.

The survey also found people who've been blind all their lives were more likely to be employed full time in Canada and New Zealand, compared to those who lost their sight later in life. In Australia, however, there isn't a significant correlation between full-time employment and onset of sight loss.

Table 2: Onset of sight loss and full-time employment by country

Been blind all my life / Lost sight in childhood / Lost sight between the ages of 18-54 / Lost sight after the age of 54 / Overall population

Canada / 33% / 26% / 23% / 17% / 28%

Australia / 25% / 13% / 29% / 4% / 24%

New Zealand / 36% / 22% / 29% / 40% / 32%

The results found no correlation between severity of sight loss and full-time employment status.

Table 3: Severity of sight loss and full-time employment by country

Mild / Moderate / Significant / Total / Overall population

Canada / 27% / 31% / 24% / 21% / 28%

Australia / 13% / 26% / 20% / 32% / 24%

New Zealand / 39% / 40% / 24.7% / 27% / 32%

Of the survey respondents who worked full time, the top four industries for employment in all three countries were educational services, health care, non-profit/disability services and public administration.

Table 4: Percentage currently employed full time in each industry by country

Canada / Australia / New Zealand

Educational services / 8% / 11% / 13%

Health care / 11% / 7% / 12%

Non-profit / disability services / 6% / 16% / 5%

Public administration / 7% / 11% / 7%

Moreover, the findings pinpointed the three main barriers to people with sight loss attribute to finding employment or being promoted. Across all three countries, they were transportation, employer's attitudes and workplace accessibility.

Table 5: Barriers to finding a job by country

Canada / Australia / New Zealand

Transportation / 71% / 44% / 74%

Employer's Attitudes / 64% / 49% / 62%

Workplace Accessibility / 58% / 43% / 58%

Furthermore, the data showed 50% of respondents across all three countries reported feeling they had not been hired because of their sight loss. These are some of the findings of a first-of-its-kind multinational survey conducted between April and July 2018. For this survey a sample of 1,205 Canadians, 362 Australians and 357 New Zealanders with sight loss were interviewed online and over the telephone.

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