As an employer or line manager to whom someone with RP reports, there are a number of things you will need to know, including:
- About the condition and how it might (or might not) 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 & Safety legislation can and should be applied.
- A bit about some easy and immediate practical steps you might make.
- Where you, your company, or the individual can get more assistance if required.
- The business advantages of treating someone with a visual impairment fairly and equitably.
About RP and barriers to work
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of genetic conditions that cause progressive loss of vision. This is because RP results in the degeneration of cells in the retina, the lining at the back of the eye. You can learn more about this on the What’s RP? page of this site.
People faced with loss of vision will understand that there will be limits on the nature of the work they can complete – we all have to be pragmatic. However, many if not most careers can continue uninterrupted with reasonable adjustments, some support, the use of assistive technology, and a healthy dose of common sense. In particular, the use of computers has, in recent years, greatly enhanced the ability of someone with a visual impairment, or even who is blind, to continue to do many jobs as effectively as ever.
A good starting rule is to avoid overestimating the impact of sight loss in this regard, or underestimating the ability of the individual to deliver a good performance based on their skills and knowledge.
Employment legislation, disability discrimination legislation, and Health & Safety legislation must of course all be respected, but not overplayed. Sometimes, employers might feel intimidated by the apparent bureaucracy surrounding all of these but this does not have to be the case. The following pages provide some basic guidance and links to more detailed sources of information about these subjects.
Practical steps and further assistance
The pages on this site on What You Can Do and Access to Work again give a good starting point. However it is important to understand that symptoms of RP vary enormously and every individual and every job environment will need to be considered carefully.
The advantages of equality
Treating people fairly is key to getting the best from any workforce, irrespective of disability, race, sex, and many other issues over which there is sometimes discrimination, intentional or not. Treating people fairly is not only the ethical thing to do, research consistently demonstrates that businesses that make efforts to treat people fairly and equitably are more profitable as a result of the following:
- Staff who feel valued remain loyal, reducing staff turnover and costs
- This also retains skills that might otherwise go to a competitor.
- Reduced conflict and better working relationships.
- Improved motivation of staff.
- Improved service delivery and sales performances.
- Better quality candidate recruitment and retention.
- Perception as a ‘model’ employer.
- Improved customer approval.
- Increased brand value.
- Ability to respond and innovate.