Global Survey Offers Insight on Employment Trends of People Who Are Blind

At its recent General Assembly, the World Blind Union (WBU) released findings from an Employment Survey sponsored by National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and several other organizations benefitting people who are blind. The results offer insights into workforce trends for people who are blind or visually impaired, including information about some of the largest workplace challenges they face and how employers can develop more inclusive work environments.

The study, which garnered 2,428 responses from people in 85 countries, provides a snapshot of employment trends for people who are blind or visually impaired around the world but especially in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Spain—the four countries where the majority (74%) of responses originated.

Among U.S. respondents:

  • 97% said they had worked at some point, and more than half (59%) reported being employed at the time of response.

  • Slightly more than 65% said they had worked more than 10 years with their current level of vision, even though 68.5% reported significant or total blindness.

  • 61% reported having an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. 

  • 46% of those unemployed for a short time were actively looking for a job, while 70% are interested in finding a new job, even if not currently available to start a new position.

The findings suggest not only that people in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired are interested in building meaningful careers, but also that they are well-educated, well-prepared, and well-suited for the workforce.

The report also provided insight into some of the most popular tools people who are blind or visually impaired rely on to navigate life and work. The data indicate that despite negative misperceptions, it’s not necessarily difficult or expensive to implement accessible technology in the workplace. Many tools – such as smartphones – have built-in accessibility features that assist people who are blind or visually impaired.

The findings demonstrate the work organizations like NIB and WBU can do to help educate employers about the relatively small, cost-effective steps they can take to empower people who are blind to participate fully in all aspects of life.

In the workplace, people who are blind or visually impaired rely on hiring managers and onboarding teams to implement simple changes, like accessible technology, to help create more inclusive environments. For those who aren’t sure where to start, resources like NIB and its talent management enterprise, NSITE, can provide guidance on developing a workplace environment that is welcoming to all employees.

To request a free copy of the World Blind Union Employment Survey, email communications@nib.org.