At Vision Australia, we know that in order to affect change, we need to not only to talk the talk, but also walk the walk. That’s why one of our company KPIs is to have a workforce engagement rate for people who are blind or have low vision of more than 15%. And I can proudly say that in January 2018, we were sitting at 14.8%.
I know firsthand that people who are blind or have low vision are no different from their sighted peers in that they make passionate, committed and efficient employees. Yet, despite this, research shows us that more than 50% of people who are blind or have low vision, and who want to work, are unemployed.
One of the ways all the governments across Australia can help decrease this percentage is through the mandating of Australian Standard EN 301 549, for the procurement of accessible Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
AS EN 301 549 was formally adopted in December 2016 as a part of the Federal Government’s procurement policies for ICT and serves as advice for state and local governments. It’s an incredible document that can be used to assess the accessibility of any technology that is acquired and requires suppliers to identify how they meet this standard when asked.
Unfortunately, the standard is voluntary, except in NSW where in December 2017 they made it compulsory. We’re advocating for the remaining state governments and the Federal Government to legislate that all departments must procure ICT that is truly accessible to increase the employment opportunities available to people with disability, across Australia.