To read this content please select one of the options below:

An Examination of Systems-Level Barriers to Employment for Persons with Vision Loss

Environmental Contexts and Disability

ISBN: 978-1-78441-263-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-262-3

Publication date: 4 November 2014



The objective of this paper is to report results from a Canadian-based study addressing systems-level barriers that restrict the employment of persons with vision loss, specifically in the experience of searching for and maintaining competitive employment. This paper aims to generate knowledge which may inform strategies and advocacy efforts to enhance opportunities for, and experiences of, paid employment for persons with vision loss.


This constructivist, grounded theory study used in-depth, semi-structured interviews with seven participants with restricted vision (those who are legally blind) to frame data collection and analyses.


Three interconnected themes emerged: facing and negotiating barriers, the cyclical process of seeking and keeping employment and settling for second best. Participants described barriers to employment that have been described in previous literature that not only continue to exist, but that act to potentiate one another, resulting in settling for competitive employment experiences that are second best. This represents a type of social injustice that has been previously described as ‘occupational injustice’. We explain this concept and link it to participants’ experiences.

Research limitations

This was a small, geographically bounded study. Nonetheless, the findings resonate with previous research and further our understanding regarding how barriers are experienced.

Social implications

Knowledge gained furthers the understanding of how systemic obstacles restrict and bound the participation of persons with vision loss in the labour market.


While the barriers to employment for persons with low vision have been previously well described, this paper demonstrates how these barriers interact and act synergistically with one another, thereby reinforcing the need to focus on shortcomings at the service, system and policy level, in addition to individual rehabilitation.




This research project was made possible by the following funding sources: The National Educational Association for Disabled Students (NEADS) Scholarship; Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Western University Graduate Scholarship.


Mohler, C., Klinger, L., Laliberte Rudman, D. and Shaw, L. (2014), "An Examination of Systems-Level Barriers to Employment for Persons with Vision Loss", Environmental Contexts and Disability (Research in Social Science and Disability, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 259-275.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited