Study: Unemployment, Poverty Still High For Blind
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 3, 2005
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--While Canadians who are blind or have other vision-related disabilities have experienced improvements in technologies and accessibility over the past three decades, they still face high levels of ignorance and discrimination leading to isolation and poverty, a new study reveals.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind published the 189-page study, "An Unequal Playing Field: Report on the Needs of People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired Living in Canada," on Tuesday. The report represents what the authors called the first nation-wide study of its kind since 1976.
Surveyors interviewed 250 stakeholders, including adults; parents of blind children; doctors who specialize in vision; rehabilitation agencies; and teachers during 12 community consultations held across the nation this past summer.
Poverty and unemployment were named as two significant challenges, with just 25 percent of those of working age reporting they were employed, and just one-half of all adults reporting incomes over $20,000 a year. In general, respondents felt that potential employers are unaware that Canadians with these disabilities can be valuable employees.
The report also said that access to transportation and technologies continues to be a problem for this group, as well as access to necessary services.
"Despite some progress, it appears that people living with vision loss in Canada today continue to encounter an unequal playing field," said the study's lead author, Deborah Gold, PhD, Director Social Research at CNIB. "Service providers (inside and outside CNIB), social policy makers and the public must have a clear knowledge of the inequities faced by people with vision loss before they can move forward to address the problems."
The report lists a number of recommendations, including the implementation of a nationwide assistive devices program; integration of rehabilitation services into the overall health system; and increase in resources for employment and transportation services for people with vision-related disabilities.
"Needs of blind not being met study: Same barriers exist as did 30 years ago" (Ottawa Sun)
Report: "An Unequal Playing Field" (Canadian National Institute for the Blind)