The Scottish Braille Press has expanded into new premises and now employs around 50 disabled people
Scotland’s Braille Press has tripled its turnover in a decade and is now employing 50 disabled disabled staff at newly opened expanded premises in Edinburgh.
The Royal Blind run social enterprise now has a £3 million turnover and is a leading provider of large print, audio and Braille transcriptions for people and businesses across the UK.
Scotland’s employment minister Jamie Hepburn visited the new premises, which opened last year, and met with workers to celebrate its success.
Speaking ahead of his visit he said: “In addition to providing a valuable service for visually impaired people, the Scottish Braille Press is an employer that recognises the benefits of a diverse workforce and has been proactive in addressing barriers to employment for disabled people.
“The Scottish Government continues to work with Scotland’s employers to create more inclusive workplaces and raise awareness amongst both employers and disabled people seeking employment of the support available to them. Only through a collective effort across sectors will we achieve the ambition of reducing the unacceptably large disability employment gap by at least half.”
Currently in Scotland disabled people are twice as likely to be out of work than non-disabled people, and two thirds of working-age people who are registered as blind and partially sighted in Scotland are not in paid employment.
The Scottish Government has committed to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half by 2030.
The Scottish Braille Press now employs 103 staff, half of whom are disabled.
Chief executive of Royal Blind Mark O’Donnell said that the success of Scottish Braille Press reflects moves towards more inclusive workplaces.
He said: “With more and more people living with sight loss there is a greater demand for documents to be available in accessible formats, and this means the Scottish Braille Press has trebled its business over the past ten years. We are proud that this means we can increase the number of employment opportunities we provide for disabled people who too often face barriers in the workplace.
“We are pleased the Scottish Government has published A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan because it is essential we remove the barriers to employment too many disabled people still face. The success of the Scottish Braille Press shows that employers also benefit from providing employment opportunities for disabled people, and we hope more will take up the opportunity to gain from all they have to offer.”
Suzie Lewis, a large print proofreader who has vision impairment, has been working for Scottish Braille Press since the 1980s.
She said: “When I first started here almost 40 years ago most folk in the Scottish Braille Press were disabled in some way and I felt comfortable working here and still do. Quite a lot were visually impaired and understood the problems and you could ask them for help.
“There was always support from your colleagues. I’ve had help with some equipment, for example my special glasses I use for reading were paid for by the Scottish Braille Press. I’ve got a big screen – bigger than the others and special software that makes it easier for me to read the text on the screen.
“I think people should be given a chance in a workplace. Other organisations could let disabled people have a trial. Assistants could help them get started until they were comfortable. You never know what people can do until they try.”