What is vision impairment?
There are many causes of vision loss and blindness. Some vision impairment and blindness is congenital (from birth, or beginning during the pre-school years). However, most vision-impaired and blind people lose their sight in later years, some through accidents. The most common causes of vision loss and blindness are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.
Vision impairment ranges in effect from total loss of vision, which affects only a small number of people, to some useful sight, limited central vision or vision to the sides or blurred or patchy vision. Others have a form of colour blindness, where they have difficulty distinguishing between ranges of colour.
How do vision impairments affect people in employment?
People with vision impairments can undertake most jobs. They are not limited to a particular range of 'blind-friendly' jobs, as many people think. With training and support, and in some cases, with the use of assistive technologies, people with vision loss or blindness work in a whole range of industries and roles. As the workforce ages it will become ever more important that employers understand the needs of people with vision impairments.
People with vision impairments may use a cane or guide dog to get around and may use a particular computer programme or use Braille to access the written word. Every individual's experience of vision impairment is different.
Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc advocates on blindness-related issues
The Blind Foundation is New Zealand's primary provider of vision-related services to blind, deafblind and vision-impaired people. They provide services for employers which include recruitment services and awareness training.