National Survey Reveals Increased Awareness About the Capabilities of People Who Are Blind in the Workforce

Follow-up Survey of Hiring Managers Commissioned by National Industries for the Blind Shows a Growing Importance Placed on Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Employees with Disabilities


Alexandria, VA — This year marks the 80th anniversary of National Industries for the Blind (NIB), the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind. In that time, NIB has made progress in raising awareness about the untapped capabilities of this skilled workforce.

NIB recently commissioned a follow-up survey to its 2012 study aimed at understanding the change in employers’ attitudes and perceptions towards hiring people with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired at U.S. companies. Since the 2012 survey was conducted, NIB has expanded its well-established training and outreach programs and launched innovative new initiatives supporting people who are blind; these efforts have translated into greater awareness and understanding about the capabilities of people who are blind among employers across the country.

According to the results of the 2018 survey, conducted by ResearchNowSSI, recruiting, training, and retaining employees with disabilities has grown in importance by 12 percentage points compared to the 2012 survey. Additionally, more hiring managers agree there are a greater number of jobs that employees who are blind can successfully perform. Furthermore, in companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, the presence of educational programs created to help managers and employees learn to work with people with disabilities has grown 20 percentage points since 2012.

“Over the past 80 years, NIB and its associated nonprofit agencies have worked tirelessly to create innovative employment opportunities for people who are blind in nearly every sector of the nation’s economy,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch. “NIB’s work is making a positive impact regarding how employers perceive employees who are blind.”

NIB will use the survey results to continue to build on current initiatives disproving the misconceptions around what people who are blind are capable of in the workplace. Despite significantly lower levels in the U.S. national unemployment rate since 2012, the likelihood of hiring managers to hire and employ a candidate who is blind remains consistent at 58 percent. Managers still believe customer service positions are the best fit for people who are blind, and two-thirds of survey respondents believe employment costs for employees who are blind are more expensive compared to 2012.

NIB and its nationwide network of more than 100 associated nonprofit agencies conduct coordinated outreach to businesses, community, and government leaders to showcase the wide array of jobs currently being performed by people who are blind.

“Even as we continue to make positive strides, it’s apparent from the results of the follow-up survey that there is still more work to be done to translate education and awareness into creating meaningful employment opportunities for individuals who are blind,” Lynch said.

NIB is the leader in helping people who are blind participate in the workforce, advance their careers, and lead independent lives. Throughout its history, NIB has demonstrated the abilities of Americans who are blind and met federal and commercial customer needs by delivering a wide range of high-quality products and professional services. NIB and its associated agencies employ nearly 6,000 highly trained and capable people who are blind, including many of our nation’s veterans.

ResearchNowSSI conducted the online survey to collect attitudinal data. More than 400 interviews were completed: 165 with human resources (HR) directors and managers, and 236 with hiring managers in other departments. Samples were representative across key demographics, including the respondents’ age, gender, geographic location, organization size, and nature of their company’s business.

For the full findings of the 2018 survey, click here.

About National Industries for the Blind

Since 1938, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has focused on enhancing the opportunities for economic and personal independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining and improving employment. NIB and its network of associated nonprofit agencies are the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind through the manufacture and provision of SKILCRAFT® and other products and services of the AbilityOne® Program. For more information about NIB, visit