On Thursday 23 March 2017 RNIB and Shoosmiths in Birmingham ran a free seminar for HR managers from local and national companies to raise awareness of the issues that blind and partially sighted people face in the workplace and to highlight the company’s legal responsibilities to provide support. Partner, Charlie Rae and Solicitor, Kate Woodhouse from Shoosmiths’ Employment team gave a fabulous presentation to the group of 30 people who responded with lots of questions and observations and who, from the initial feedback, found it all very informative.
Bernadette Halton, Regional Fundraising Manager from RNIB welcomed everyone and then introduced a very emotive speaker in the guise of Chris Bulcraig, who gave a personal account of his journey through his sight loss and how it affected him in his life as a printer and then a Social Worker for Birmingham City Council.
Chris continuously made reference to the support, training and opportunities that RNIB have given him and especially in his current employment as part of RNIB’s Trainee Grade Scheme. Following the ‘Legal issues and Concerns’ presentation by Charlie and Kate, Bernadette then introduced RNIB staff members and informed the attendees of the different ways that RNIB can support companies; Training services for staff to raise awareness of the needs of blind and partially sighted colleagues; Solutions, who can help with auditing company’s materials, buildings and websites etc and ensure that they are truly accessible as well as the offer of a transcription service; Volunteering and Fundraising opportunities; and their Employment team’s efforts to keep people in work after receiving a diagnosis of sight loss or provide help for others in gaining employment.
Bernadette commented ‘An excellent pilot of the first event and one that will hopefully be repeated in other parts of the country at a local Shoosmiths!’
Charlie added’ It was our pleasure to be able to support such a worthwhile charity as RNIB at an event like this. Kate and I really enjoyed participating in the session. Whilst our presentation concentrated on the legal compliance aspects, it was great to hear the real life experiences from others at the event. It really brought to life the issues faced by employers and employees on the issue of sight loss in the workplace.