Jobcentre staff are to receive new training on how to help people with sight loss find jobs, through a partnership between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which will also see some Jobcentres fitted with virtual-reality headsets.
Beginning this week, all Jobcentre Plus staff will be given access to the online training, via a portal with information and advice on how to better support jobseekers with sight loss.
The training, which is being launched to coincide with National Eye Health Week from 23 to 29 September, aims to help staff to understand sight loss and how it affects the lives of the benefit recipients they work with. It includes modules covering topics such as the causes of sight loss; barriers facing people who are visually impaired; and tips on how to guide someone with sight loss.
It will also give advice on how best to support people to navigate Universal Credit claims.
Virtual reality headsets designed by the RNIB to enable staff to experience what it feels like to have sight loss will also be installed at some centres.
At the moment, Jobcentre users with sight loss are offered adjustments to services including longer appointments, help completing forms, and home visits where needed, DWP said.
RNIB’s policy manager, Chrissie Pepper, said the sight-loss awareness training would be a “a first step towards tackling the difficulties that some blind and partially sighted people face when accessing benefits”.
“We hope this training will lead to a better understanding from DWP and its staff about sight loss and the impact it has, leading to cases being resolved more quickly so that people can access their benefits,” she said.
“We look forward to building on this by providing more in-depth training to key DWP staff, such as disability employment advisors, to secure further improvements to DWP’s services for blind and partially sighted people.”