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SAMS: Study on the working life of people with visual impairment

People with visual impairment encounter different circumstances in their everyday working life. How can the visual impairment sector, the employers, the affected people themselves and the general environment contribute to a successful vocational situation? This is the central question in SAMS, the national study on the working life of people with visual impairment.

Initial situation

To date, there has only been peripheral research into the work situation of people with visual impairment in Switzerland. In the SAMS project, researchers from various departments at ZHAW and Haute école de travail social et de la santé in Lausanne address beneficial and obstructive factors in the working life of people with visual impairment. SAMS applies to employment in the general labour market.


The objective is to prepare a basis for the development of measures to improve vocational integration of people with visual impairment. This is to be made available to organisations in the visual impairment sector. The supporting institutions are the Swiss National Association of and for the Blind (SNAB), the Swiss Association of the Blind (SAB), and the Swiss Federation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBV). The results are to be released at the end of 2015 with the support of the Federal Bureau for the Equality of People with Disabilities (FBED) in a brochure for affected persons, in a handbook for employers, and in conferences and courses for professionals.


The study pursues the following main question: What are the beneficial and obstructive factors pertaining to the vocational success of people with visual impairment?
The sub-questions are as follows:


The study encompasses five modules, in which different research methods are selected:


The study shows that, when compared to the general Swiss population, blind or visually impaired people are in a similar or better situation regarding many aspects, for instance in terms of their share of company management positions, the permanence of their jobs, and the perception of their salary as fair. However, equality has not been achieved, for example, with regard to degree of employment (more part-time positions) and continuing education (less utilisation).
One key factor for a successful career is proactive communication about the visual impairment. Acceptance of assisting technologies and competence with regard to their use are also decisive. As for the environmental factors, the attitudes and prejudices of (potential) employers can still prevent or hinder vocational integration.
The severity of visual impairment has no noteworthy impact on work-related equality regarding most of the investigated aspects, with the exception of the diversity of professions (the slighter the visual impairment, the greater the diversity of professions).

Project management

Project period

October 2013 to September 2015