In 2015, we published Sightsavers’ first social inclusion strategy, which focused on scaling up the organisation’s efforts to achieve diversity and equality in the workplace. The following year we launched the Disability Inclusion Working Group, a cross-departmental group of Sightsavers staff who champion positive change and promote disability inclusion.
These milestones paved the way for several groundbreaking and ongoing initiatives, including a Disability Employee Network and disability awareness training for all staff. These achievements represent the work of many teams across the organisation.
In July 2023, after seven years of hard work, the Disability Inclusion Working Group was concluded, having completed and exceeded its core aims.
Here you can read about our inclusion highlights been 2016 and 2023, and follow the timeline for this part of our journey towards becoming an employer of choice for people with disabilities.
Improvements to Sightsavers’ branding included new typography styles to ensure our communications are more legible. We added a section to our guidelines on accessibility that covered contrast levels, minimum font sizes, ensuring content can be understood by screenreaders, and adding alt text to images.
The Disability Inclusion Working Group (DIWG) (originally called the Social Inclusion Working Group) was established. The DIWG was a cross-departmental learning community made up of staff members who champion positive change. The group aimed to make Sightsavers an organisation that promotes and embodies disability inclusion.
The training covers disability inclusion, language, accessibility and disability inclusive development. Read more in our highlights at the top of the page.
This initiative involves inviting disability experts to speak to Sightsavers staff to promote best practice and encourage an ethos of inclusion within the organisation. Key guests to date include Microsoft’s Hector Minto, Channel 4 disability consultant Graeme Whippy, and Paralympian Georgie Bullen.
Our design team were trained how to create PDFs that can be used by screenreaders, and were also shown how to use tools and resources when creating printed documents to improve areas such as colour contrast and page navigation.
To ensure our communications can be understood by as many people as possible, we launched a testing service to check both internal and external Sightsavers documents to ensure they can be read by screenreaders. Over the next few years this service was expanded to also test the accessibility of visual design, language, video and online elements.
Sightsavers gained level 2 accreditation as part of this UK government-endorsed scheme that aims to make workplaces more inclusive. Read more in our highlights at the top of the page.
Our first British Sign Language (BSL) tester sessions were organised for group of staff in the UK office. This led to eight members of staff achieving British Sign Language Level 1 in January 2020.
We appointed our first Mental Health First Aider in September 2017 to support staff who are experiencing mental wellbeing issues or emotional distress. By 2023, there were more than 25 Sightsavers Mental Health First Aiders.
The Sightsavers Disability Inclusion Working Group featured in the paper, written by several senior staff members and published in the Knowledge Management for Development Journal.
Our interactive training module was launched. It aims to ensure staff are aware of different disabilities, as well as teaching them how they can make the workplace more inclusive for colleagues with disabilities. The training covers hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility issues and neurodiverse conditions.
Our internal survey into disability among staff showed that 8% of Sightsavers employees identify as a person with a disability. Read more in our highlights at the top of the page.
Our Perspectives initiative, run by Sightsavers’ web, design and branding team, promotes the importance of accessibility in design and communications. It launched in April 2018 at the D&AD design festival in London, and encouraged visitors to look at the world from a different viewpoint.
Sightsavers became a member of the Internal Labour Organisation’s Global Business and Disability Network, which promotes inclusion at work. Read more in the highlights at the top of the page.
As part of the Perspectives initiative, our lead digital designer Matt Roberts spoke to one of the world’s leading creative magazines about accessibility and his experience working as a colourblind designer. In the same month, Sightsavers’ work in accessible communications featured in French design magazine Étapes.
The Disability Inclusion Working Group’s speakers’ programme was presented as an innovative practice to members of the International Labour Organisation’s Global Business and Disability Network.
Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper delivered a speech on disability inclusion in the workplace at the Global Equality & Diversity conference in London, which brought together business and public sector staff involved with equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
Sightsavers successfully piloted new ways of recruiting and selecting candidates, enabling candidates to apply and be interviewed in the way they felt best demonstrated their skills and experience. The pilot helped inform our recruitment practices more generally and some elements have continued to be part of our mainstream recruitment process.
Sightsavers’ Wellbeing Hub and Wellbeing Taskforce were founded in August 2019 to support staff and promote the importance of good health, comfort and happiness. This was followed by the launch of global guidelines to help managers support staff with disabilities.
Sightsavers’ premises team started carrying out twice-daily checks at our UK head office to ensure all walkways are clear and free from obstruction and all offices are well lit, with lighting in full working order.
Sightsavers ran a pilot to integrate an accessibility audit into resilience assessments of our country offices around the world, in an effort to ensure that offices are as accessible as possible for both staff and visitors.
This Sightsavers network is made up of employees who provide a voice for disabled staff. Read more in our highlights at the top of the page.
Sightsavers’ brand book, launched in January 2020, governs how we present ourselves as an organisation. It ensures our branding is consistent, recognisable and professional, and features detailed accessibility guidance for creating content that can be enjoyed by everyone.
A silent vibrating emergency alarm was installed at our UK head office in Haywards Heath, with corresponding pagers for staff who are unable to hear the emergency evacuation alarm.
Disability Confident is a UK government-endorsed scheme that aims to make workplaces more inclusive. We achieved level 2 accreditation in April 2017, and in 2020 we reached level 3, the highest level, an accolade awarded to employers that are leaders in this field.
Sightsavers’ Disability Inclusion Working Group was shortlisted for a Bond Diversity Award. The awards recognise organisations in the UK NGO sector that nurture diverse and inclusive workforces.
Sightsavers’ digital design team helped to set up the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) Inclusive Design Council, which aims to champion inclusive design and give individuals and organisations the knowledge, skills and desire to design experiences for everyone.
Sightsavers’ policy and research team, @Sightsavers_Pol, took to social media to host a live Twitter chat on how we can rebuild our workplaces inclusively after COVID-19. Sightsavers’ Kate Bennell also wrote a blog for Civil Society magazine, looking at how charities and businesses can create an inclusive environment for staff with disabilities as they rebuild after the pandemic.
The mandatory disability inclusion training for Sightsavers staff was adapted to be delivered online during COVID-19 office closures, ensuring staff can still learn while working remotely.
Sightsavers’ Disability Inclusion Working Group encouraged staff to sign a petition to the UK government to support the development and production of lip-reading and hearing aid-friendly face masks.
The social media accessibility guidelines were produced for Sightsavers staff to be read alongside our content accessibility guidelines and social media accessibility document created by Kate Bennell.
Sightsavers joined Purple Space – a development hub for disability network leaders, disability confident employers, allies and champions who drive business change on disability. Purple Space helps disability employee networks to build engagement strategies to stimulate better conversations about all aspects of disability and business.
The Our journey webpage was launched to celebrate our journey towards promoting disability inclusion in the workplace at Sightsavers. It was developed by Sightsavers’ Disability Inclusion Working Group in collaboration with various teams, including web, design and branding, human resources, senior human resources business partners, the Wellbeing Taskforce and the Disabled Employee Network.
The recruitment team updated Sightsavers’ Disability Inclusion Working Group on recent adjustments to the recruitment process and resources to ensure recruitment is accessible.
A subgroup of Sightsavers’ Disability Inclusion Working Group was established to increase awareness among staff about the range of accessibility tools available.
Sightsavers staff wore purple clothing and shared a picture of themselves for Sightsavers #PurpleLightUp 2021. #PurpleLightUp is a global movement coordinated by Purple Space that celebrates and draws attention to the economic contribution of disabled employees around the world.
Sightsavers’ social media accessibility guidelines were refreshed to help to ensure that everyone can enjoy, understand and share social posts.
The Think Accessibility campaign was launched by members of Sightsavers’ Disability Inclusion Working Group to help increase awareness around accessibility at work. All Sightsavers staff were invited to attend sessions run by representatives from a variety of Sightsavers teams. Sessions took place between July 2022 and July 2023 and covered:
For the second year in a row, Sightsavers staff wore purple clothing and shared a picture of themselves for Sightsavers #PurpleLightUp 2022.
Sightsavers was invited to support to the Government of Tanzania with its development of National Accessibility Guidelines to help ensure that accessibility standards are followed by all government and private institutions.
The final session in the Think Accessibility campaign focused on unseen disabilities (sometimes referred to as ‘invisible’ disabilities) and accessible working. It was hosted by various members of Sightsavers’ Disabled Employee Network.
Colleagues from across the organisation officially launched the Accessibility pack for inclusive communications, which aims to provide easy-to-access guidance to Sightsavers’ partners and staff to create accessible, inclusive communications projects, activities and materials.