Visual Impairment and Work: Experiences of Visually Impaired People, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Visual Impairment and Work

Experiences of Visually Impaired People, 1st Edition

By Sally French


186 pages

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Hardback: 9781472455420
pub: 2017-02-23
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This book traces the development of paid work for visually impaired people in the UK from the 18th century to the present day. It gives a voice to visually impaired people to talk about their working lives and documents the history of employment from their experience, an approach which is severely lacking in the current literature about visual impairment and employment. By analysing fifty in-depth face-to-face interviews with visually impaired people talking about their working lives (featuring those who have worked in traditional jobs such as telephony, physiotherapy and piano tuning, to those who have pursued more unusual occupations and professions), and grouping them according to occupation and framed by documentary, historical research, these stories can be situated in their broader political, economic, ideological and cultural contexts. The themes that emerge will help to inform present day policy and practice within a context of high unemployment amongst visually impaired people of working age. It is part of a growing literature which gives voice to disabled people about their own lives and which adds to the growing academic discipline of disability studies and the empowerment of disabled people.


'It would be hard to find anyone who proclaimed themselves against equality of opportunity and a fair chance of employment, and an equal social life for those with a defined disability. But in practice the reality is somewhat different. This is more than changing attitudes it’s the day to day battle that individuals have to achieve their potential, to live independently and to gain the self-determination and respect which others take for granted. That is why Sally French in using real and potent examples, is doing a service to us all in highlighting through example, not just what it is like but what individuals can do with tenacity, determination and yes, a little help! I recommend this to all those engaged in whatever way in terms of diversity and work or seeking to highlight the challenges faced by others, in everyday life.' - The Rt Hon. the Lord Blunkett, U.K

'This remarkable book documents the lives of visually impaired people in the workplace in their own words. Uniquely, it tells stories of triumph and hardship, success and struggle. It gives insight what it takes to succeed in employment as a disabled person in a way no text book can do. And, it is a riveting read.'- Jan Walmsley, Open University, U.K

'This is a hugely important and long-overdue contribution to our understanding of the barriers that visually impaired people still face when looking for work. By including 50 first-person accounts by visually impaired people, French puts the views and experiences of visually impaired workers at the heart of her work. She gives visually impaired people a rare and precious opportunity to speak for ourselves, and the result is a wide-ranging insight into working practices. The most significant part of French’s study is the recommendations for policy-makers and employers with which she ends: a compelling set of suggestions for getting more visually impaired people into work. This book is essential reading for policy-makers, activists and employers as well as for students of disability rights.' - Hannah Thompson, University of London, U.K

Table of Contents



Part 1: Visually impaired people and employment: An historical overview

Chapter 1. Manual work and the workshops

Chapter 2. Professional and commercial work

Part 2: The Stories

Chapter 3. Careers in health, rehabilitation, social work and social care

Chapter 4. Careers in music

Chapter 5. Careers in teaching and computing

Chapter 6. Manual and commercial occupations

Chapter 7. Miscellaneous careers and occupations

Chapter 8. Commonality and diversity: insights from the stories

Recommendations and conclusion


About the Author

Sally French has worked in higher education since 1978 and has worked at the University of East London, The Open University (as a tutor and course-writer), The University of Winchester and Hatfield University all in the UK.

About the Series

Interdisciplinary Disability Studies

Disability studies has made great strides in exploring power and the body. This series extends the interdisciplinary dialogue between disability studies and other fields by asking how disability studies can influence a particular field. It will show how a deep engagement with disability studies changes our understanding of the following fields: sociology, literary studies, gender studies, bioethics, social work, law, education, or history. This ground-breaking series identifies both the practical and theoretical implications of such an interdisciplinary dialogue and challenges people in disability studies as well as other disciplinary fields to critically reflect on their professional praxis in terms of theory, practice, and methods.

Series editor: Mark Sherry, The University of Toledo, USA

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / People with Disabilities