Unemployment and under-employment in adults with vision impairment: The RVIB Employment Survey

Cathy A. McCarty, Mary Burgess, Jill E. Keeffe

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7 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the labour force status in Victorian adults with vision impairment and any factors associated with unemployment and under-employment. Methods: Participants were recruited in 1997. A telephone interview was conducted by trained interviewers. Results: A total of 250 people participated. They ranged in age from 19 to 59 years (mean 40.7 years) and 119 (48%) were male. Thirty-nine (16%) people regarded themselves to be totally blind. Nearly everyone (n = 241, 96%) had been employed at some time during their lifetime; however, only 149 (60%) were currently employed. The current rate of participation in the labour force was 73.3% (95% CL, 67.8%, 78.8%) and the current unemployment rate was 18.2% (95% CL, 12.6%, 23.9%). The current rate of under-employment was 16.0% (95% CL, 10.7%, 21.4%). A total of 126 (50%) people had used services that help with employment at some stage; this was not significantly associated with current employment status (P > 0.10). The factors significantly associated with unemployment in multivariate analyses were a self-report of eyesight limiting time available for work or other activities (OR = 3.02; 95% CL, 1.56, 5.85) and currently looking for work (OR = 5.92; 95% CL, 2.94, 11.9); never having worked was of borderline significance (OR = 5.26; 95% CL, 0.85, 32.7) as a result of the small numbers of people surveyed. The only factor significantly associated with under-employment was self-employment (OR = 5.46; 95% CL, 1.95, 15.3). Discussion: Results from this study reveal that visual function is not a predictor of labour force status. The relatively low use of specialty employment services and the rather high rate of discouraged job seekers suggest that the employment outcomes of people who use these services should be investigated further, and that attention should be directed at improving retention of employment in people with vision impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-193
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Blindness
  • Disabled
  • Employment
  • Low vision
  • Unemployment


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