The British Business Bank announced a new partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The Bank will be working with the RNIB to help create an environment where blind and partially sighted people participate equally, breaking down barriers to the business world for people with vision disabilities.
Only one in four people with sight loss of working age are in employment. There are currently 11,000 people with vision disabilities in the UK who are actively seeking work, and one of the initial aims of the new partnership is to empower and enable entrepreneurs with sight loss to take the first steps toward starting their own businesses.
As a first step, the RNIB will produce Braille, Audio and Large Print versions of existing Start Up Loans documents and will support the Bank in providing accessible journeys across all of its customer facing channels. This will involve changes to the Bank’s websites and its Start Up Loans application process, as well as the provision of training to staff.
Additionally, to improve accessibility within its own recruitment process, the British Business Bank has become one of the first organisations to have passed part one of the Visibly Better Employer Framework, to become a ‘Visibly Better Employer’. This quality standard helps employers to become more inclusive and will help the Bank to increase the number of people with sight loss who apply for job opportunities and become employed by the organisation.
Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO, British Business Bank said: “The British Business Bank is proud to partner with the RNIB on ensuring that blind and partially sighted people experience equal opportunities, both in the workplace and in accessing the finance and mentoring they need to set up in business. Our goal is to create a fairer environment as the economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19 so the best talent is able to thrive.”
David Clarke, Director of Services at RNIB, said: “We are delighted to be forming a close collaboration with British Business Bank to help and support blind and partially sighted people. Working with British Business Bank presents a great opportunity to focus on enabling blind and partially sighted people to realise their aspirations. It is critical that businesses empower people living with sight loss to realise their potential, and enable them to play an important part in contributing to the economy.”
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “We want to ensure everyone, whatever their background, has equal opportunity to succeed and achieve on merit.
“The government’s British Business Bank is breaking down barriers for visually impaired people trying to start their own business, unlocking talent across the country as we build back fairer from the pandemic.”
Richard Bearman, Managing Director, Small Business Lending at the British Business Bank and Martin O’Kane, Strategic Lead for Employment at the RNIB, will be discussing how to ensure the funding landscape is accessible and inclusive in the Show Me the Money zone at virtual event StartUp 2022 at 12pm on 21 January.