HC Deb 25 May 1976 vol 912 cc165-7W
Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will advise all officers within his Department who hold responsibility for the placing in employment of registered blind persons to relax any rigid practice which inhibits a free movement from open to sheltered employment and vice versa.

Mr. Harold Walker

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that no rigid practice exists which inhibits the movement, in either direction, of registered blind people between sheltered and open employment. In all cases, the resettlement officers of the Employment Service Agency seek to obtain the best possible solution to the employment problem of the individual, using the opportunities in sheltered or open employment as appropriate.

When considering employment under sheltered conditions, however, resettlement officers must give due regard to the fact that admission to a sheltered workshop, as an approved worker, is limited by the terms of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944, to those disabled people who, by reason of the nature and severity of their disablement, are unlikely to obtain employment under ordinary conditions.

Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the positions in commerce and industry other than manual work or telephone operators which resettlement officers are able to offer to registered blind persons; what research is taking place into the placing of such persons into positions of responsibility; what new opportunities have recently been added to rehabilitation and training courses; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Grant

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that occupations—excluding manual work and telephone operating—in which registered blind persons were placed during the year ending 30th September 1975 are as listed below. Employment opportunities are continually expanding as a result of research and the developments in specials aids to employment. Continuous research is undertaken into the development of new employment opportunities by the Royal National Institute for the Blind in close association with the Employment Service Agency, Government Departments and other bodies. Currently, the RNIB is engaged in a survey of clerical and executive occupations and career prospects within Civil Service Departments.

In the fields of rehabilitation and training, there is a new emphasis on attention to residual vision, which is being assisted by the advances in low vision aids. More blind persons training officers have recently been appointed who are specifically responsible for searching out new job opportunities and giving visually handicapped people specialist job induction and training. The Training Services Agency and Employment Service Agency are financially supporting the RNIB in the new training given to selected blind people in the use of the "Optacon" reading device.

Registered Blind People

List of placings in occupations, other than manual work and telephone operators, during the year eliding 30th September 1975.

Masseurs and Physiotherapists 12
Lecturers, Teachers and Instructors 16
Barristers, Solicitors and related workers 6
Musicians (including Music Teachers) 1
Social, Welfare and related workers 14
Proprietors, Managers and Executives in industry and commerce 2
Computer Programmers 9
Other Professional, technical, administrative, executive or managerial workers 14
Typists, Shorthand typists and Secretaries 76
Braille copyists and proof readers 1
Clerical workers 13
Working proprietors, shop managers, assistants and salesmen 10
Sales representatives, agents, collectors and commercial travellers 4
Farmers, farm managers and workers and market gardeners 3