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Jenny
Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6305
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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I have a visual impairment which is corrected by high prescription

Customer Question

I have a visual impairment which is corrected by high prescription contact lenses. I believe that the DDA specifically excludes that as a disability.
In my case my condition is the result of a long history of degenerative eye disease and surgery and the the only method of correction is very high prescription contact lenses (no other correction, including spectacles can be used).
In my left eye my corrected vision is not usable (ie I could not read safety signs on walls etc) but in my right eye my corrected vision is very good.
My problem is that I can't always wear my contact lenses because as I get older (I am 54 and this has been going on since I was 19) my eyes are less tolerant and I have to remove them for several periods of 1 - 2 hours each day. I am very vulnerable to airborne matter (dust mainly) which means that I have to remove my lenses for several hours, this happens several times per week. Also I am very vulnerable to eye infections which requires anti-biotic treatment and the removal of both lenses for a week. (This happens every 2-3 months)
Without my lenses I have no usable vision.
My question is: Does that qualify as a disability.
Many Thanks.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 2 years ago.
Customer:

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. :Are you asking this from an employment law point of view?

JACUSTOMER-kmj2ki1t- :

yes, as an employee

Customer:

Is this in the context of a request to make reasonable adjustments?

JACUSTOMER-kmj2ki1t- :

I guess, my employer (a college) has a smoking policy which it doesn't properly enforce and I have had cigarette ash in my eyes on several occassions. They

JACUSTOMER-kmj2ki1t- :

sent me home to work (in jan 2013) rather than do anything about the smoking and now I refuse to come onto campus because they haven't done anything about it and the danger still exists. They have tried to do risk assessments to minimise the risk but they only circumvent enforcing the smoking policy, if they did that they wouldn't need a risk assessment and i would go onto campus

Customer:

So it is the case that you haven't attended work since January 2013?

JACUSTOMER-kmj2ki1t- :

I have worked (from home) without interruption since Jan 2013 but I have not attended campus. The college now want me to come onto campus for meetings, training etc but have not done anything to enforce it's smoking policy.

Customer:

Thank you are you saying that they are allowing people to smoke at work? This has been illegal since 2007 so seems very strange?

JACUSTOMER-kmj2ki1t- :

They have a smoking policy which requires people to go to one of around seven specially constructed smoking shelters on campus. The rouble is that many people don't and smoking still takes place all over the college, particularly around doorways etc. No disciplinary action is taken even if one takes names and reports students.

Customer:

So it is students smoking not employees? If smoking occurs in doorways as you have suggested what impact does this have on your vision/ ability to carry outyour job?

JACUSTOMER-kmj2ki1t- :

If I get cigarette ash in my eyes I have to remove my contact lenses, usually for the rest of the day, and effectively I'm then blind. When this has happened in the past my wife has had to come to college to collect me

Customer:

Ok thanks, ***** ***** does not necessarily preclude you from protection. The law says that where the 'substantial disadvantage' can be corrected by glasses or contact lenses then it should be treated as though this disadvantage does not exist. If you are saying that you cannot always be protected due to infections that prevent you from wearing the lenses then it is my view that the act would cover you.

Customer:

In any event your employer has a duty to protect your health and safety. If it is not following its own policy then it is not doing so.

Customer:

If you have any further questions about this please let me know. If I have answered your question please do take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.

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