If you have a visual impairment or are blind and need some extra assistance with reading at work, you may be eligible to apply for a Personal Reader Grant. This grant aid allows you to employ someone on a part-time or ad-hoc basis for a maximum of 640 hours a year to help you with reading at work. The grant is provided under the Department of Social Protection’s Reasonable Accommodation Fund.
Public sector employers (for example: government departments, State agencies, Health Service Executive, local authorities) are obliged to facilitate the needs of their staff with disabilities. This means making assistive technology, adaptive equipment and facilities, aids and appliances available. Public sector employers and their disabled employees are therefore not entitled to claim the Personal Reader Grant as these employers should make these services available from their own annual budgetary resources.
You do not have to be a registered blind person or someone with a specified level of visual acuity to apply for a Personal Reader Grant. If you are experiencing difficulty with reading at work for reasons of visual impairment, then you are entitled to apply for this grant. In addition, there is no means test associated with a Personal Reader Grant and you do not need to have a certain level of income to apply.
If you are a student at college or university and are experiencing difficulty with reading as a result of a visual impairment, you should get in touch with the Disability Liaison Officer for your college/university.
Personal readers are not required to have any special formal qualifications. They do not require a prescribed standard of education, expertise or ability to comprehend the information they are reading. All personal readers need is a good standard of reading ability and the ability to read aloud in a way that will allow someone else to understand what he or she is saying.
It will be useful to familiarise yourself with the reading material in advance of working as a personal reader. This will allow you to judge how simple, complex or technical the information will be and will also give you the opportunity to check pronunciations or vocabulary.
You may be required to read this information aloud to the other person or you may be required to read this information onto recording equipment (for example, a tape recorder). Before you commence working, you should find out which way you are required to read the material.
If you wish to employ a personal reader, you should begin by identifying exactly the type and volume of reading work you require assistance with. You should also try work out how much assistance you will need on a daily or weekly basis and how many hours per day or week you will need the reader. You should be aware that the Personal Reader Grant is paid for a maximum of 640 hours per annum and there is a set hourly rate of pay (see 'Rates' section below).
There are a number of ways to advertise for the services of a personal reader. Some people place an advertisement in a local newspaper, or in a local shop window or on a community notice board (for example, in a local community or shopping centre).
Anyone (with the exception of public sector employees) who has a visual impairment or is blind and would benefit from using the services of a personal reader for up to 640 hours per annum is entitled to apply for this grant.
The grant aid is a fee per hour in line with the national minimum wage for a maximum of 640 hours per annum. The number of hours that personal reading services are needed per week will depend on the type of work involved and should be agreed between you and your reader in advance. You can read more about maximum working hours here.
You can either apply yourself or if you are an employer, you can apply for a Personal Reader Grant on behalf of an employee. You will need to complete Part 1 (pdf) and Part 2 (pdf) of the Reasonable Accommodation Fund application form which is available online. It is also available from your local employment services office or Intreo centre.
If you have a visual impairment or are blind, staff in your local office will be pleased to help you complete the application form.
If you are a public sector employee and require assistance with reading at work as a result of an existing or progressive visual impairment, you should get in touch with the Disability Liaison Officer in your Human Resources Unit.
If you are a student in a college or university with a visual impairment and
require further information on educational supports, contact the Disability
Liaison Officer for your college.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.