Blind people can do anything but not in my company : employer attitudes towards employing blind and vision-impaired people : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies at Massey University
Previous international research has shown blind and vision-impaired people to be in the less favoured groups of employees employers are willing to hire. None of the research has addressed why this is the case. The present study was undertaken firstly to see if in New Zealand also, blind and vision-impaired people were less favoured in comparison with other disability groups as potential employees; and secondly, to determine employer attitudes and perceptions towards employing blind people, and how or why these attitudes and perceptions influence employers to overlook the blind and vision-impaired when employing staff. One hundred and two employers (sample 200) participated in a telephone survey and, of those, six were interviewed again in an in-depth face-to-face interview. A combination of attitudinal and perception survey instruments were used. The research found participants had mainly favourable attitudes towards blind and vision-impaired people. However, in total contrast, blind and vision-impaired people (alongside those with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities) were regarded the least suitable or least employable for positions most and second most often available in firms across all industries. The results were congruent with earlier findings (Gilbride, Stensrud, Ehlers, Evans & Peterson, 2000) in that of all of the disability groups, blindness and persons with moderate or severe (mental retardation) intellectual handicap were perceived as the hardest to employ in comparison with other disability groups. Lastly, this report comments on how potential hiring practices (employers' potential behaviour) can be changed to better match their apparent positive attitudes towards blind and vision-impaired people. A range of recommendations are made such as the need for education programmes in schools, media campaigns and cultivating positive media relationships, workplace training and education, employer mentoring programmes, the development of government policies and strategies and the need for work experience programmes.