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Guidance on supporting colleagues with visual impairments

This guidance aims to help managers and team members of visually impaired colleagues to thrive at work and generally promote a diverse and inclusive working environment.

Visual Impairment (VI) is a reduction in vision to a degree that causes barriers and cannot be corrected by usual means, such as glasses. VI covers a spectrum of conditions ranging from what is commonly labelled blindness through degrees of difficulty reading and navigating around spaces.

Key points

  • Visual impairment (VI) covers a range of conditions and impacts.

  • VI colleagues are equally capable, effective and independent valuable members of staff.

  • Those with a VI can be impacted in a variety of ways including psychologically.

  • Managers have a key role in supporting the VI (visually impaired) colleague by taking time to engage with the colleague to understand their situation and discuss what support they want to empower and enable them to be at their best.

  • There are a number of “physical/equipment” adjustments that can be put in place to support the VI colleague, including assistive software, but these may not be a perfect solution for all challenges.

  • Specialist advice is recommended, but often the VI colleague will also be knowledgeable about adjustments required.

  • It may be necessary to make some adjustments to task/role to play to the strengths of the VI colleague, and sometimes to coach the VI colleague in thinking about where their particular strengths lie.

  • The VI colleague may also need adjustments to how meetings they join are run and how documents they work with are formatted.

  • Visual Impairments and their impacts can change over time and managers need to regularly discuss with the VI colleague how best to support them.

Cabinet Office February 2023

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Supporting colleagues with visual impairments
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