Guide Dogs pledges to tackle 'disabling' working environment for vision impaired staff

Guide Dogs has promised to put in place improvements to its “disabling” working environment for staff with vision impairments.

The charity has admitted that its “built and digital environments, processes and culture has and can be disabling” for some of its vision impaired team.

To tackle this, it has pledged to ensure that accessibility is embedded across the organisation and that staff with impaired vision are provided with “the equipment they need to excel in their role within a reasonable timeframe”.

The plans have been unveiled in the charity’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy for 2022.

This outlines the charity’s ambition to become “the gold standard employer for people who are vision impaired”.

It says that “Guide Dogs recognises the value of staff who are vision impaired in shaping the organisation. Crucially, we recognise that their experience of working here hasn’t always been positive”.

The charity wants to ensure that colleagues not affected by vision impairment “understand the impact their behaviour can have on their colleagues who are”.

In addition, a compulsory training scheme for all staff on vision impairment is to be introduced, with bi-annual refresher sessions.

“We will equip them by raising awareness to ensure they always consider the intent and impact of their actions,” added the charity.

Guide Dogs has also pledged to improve diversity by reviewing and refreshing unconscious bias training as well as working to “celebrate the range of lived experiences” of its colleagues and volunteers. This includes “ensuring under-represented and often excluded voices are amplified”.

The charity is looking to “tell the stories of our people more powerfully, so that we normalise difficult conversations and break down stigmas”.

According to latest data from the charity 86% of its staff are white, just 1% are Asian and only 0.3% are Black.

I am very proud to have this Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy now in place,” added Guide Dogs director of people and performance Kathryn Ward.

“Guide Dogs is an organisation steeped in over ninety years of history and is a well-loved national institution.

“However, it is also an employer, a provider of services and a recipient of public money and it is hugely important that we are open, honest and equitable.

“It makes good sense for the organisation to be a diverse and inclusive employer and for us to have a strong sense of belonging among our workforce.”

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