Vocational rehabilitation

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7322.1186 (Published 17 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1186

New training and funding strategies are needed

  1. Gillian Paschkes-Bell, research and development officer (gpaschkes-bell@rnib.org.uk)
  1. Royal National Institute for the Blind, London W1N 6AA
  2. National Vocational Rehabilitation Association, Sandringham House, Heritage Gate, Oxford OX4 5LB
  3. Defence Services Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court, Epsom, Surrey KT18 6JN

    EDITOR—In their editorial Disler and Pallant discussed vocational rehabilitation.1 Since the publication in 1991 of its survey of blind and partially sighted people in Britain1 the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has been concerned about the lack of support for retention in employment in the United Kingdom.2 This publication raised awareness of the incidence of visually impaired people who gave up work after the onset of sight difficulties and remained unemployed.

    In the early 1990s the RNIB funded a research and development project called “Disability Leave,” which drew on the experience of 18 employers who piloted best practice retention policies developed during the life of the project. The final report of this project was published in 1995.3 It recommended that, where no employment solutions are found by employer and employee, a specialist employment adviser should be asked to carry out an initial assessment. If the employee needs a work break to make adjustments to work practices, this should be offered as disability leave, using the analogy of maternity leave. The disability leave research was available to influence government at the time of drafting the UK Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

    Further development work carried out by the RNIB and Rehab UK resulted in publication of the Get Back series in 1999/2000.4 …

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