A blind woman with 18 years of experience as a phone operator has consistently failed to land a job at government call centres over the past five years and claims the government discriminates against the visually impaired. Regina Yip Wai-yee, 43, said inflexible entry requirements into civil service or contract jobs with the government put additional obstacles in the way of visually impaired people, who ought instead to be offered extra assistance. 'The Water Supplies Department typing speed test, for example, is unfair because they did not give us extra time to complete the test,' she said. 'We need volunteers to read the passage for us and to spell out each word, so of course we need extra time for this. But they explained to us that if they give us extra time, it would not be fair to the sighted people.' Ms Yip, who sent an open letter to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday, said the policy was inconsistent and different departments provided different levels of assistance and different obstacles. She has also applied to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), the Efficiency Enhancement Unit and others. Last week the EMSD rejected her application. 'The EMSD gave us extra time so we passed the typing test, but I did not get the job even though I have higher qualifications than they require - 18 years instead of one year's experience,' she said. 'The Education Department told me I have no experience in teamwork, but actually I have a reference letter to support that I co-operate with staff very well.' Ms Yip has written to the former and current chief executives, heads of departments and the media. 'In Hong Kong, the blind are studying more now and even learn computer skills, but the government does not give us the chance to use them,' she said. 'In the 1980s, blind people had more chances in government, but now we need social welfare to support us.' Tommy Lo Kwok-kuen, director of the Blind Union, said visually impaired people assumed it would be easier to enter government than the private sector, but inflexibility in qualification requirements made it difficult. Some departments required five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations for call centre jobs, which made it difficult for many blind applicants to qualify. 'We are hoping that the government can really designate some kinds of jobs for the blind, like call centre agents, so that we can train them to do such jobs well. They are capable of working and once committed to a suitable job, they will stay and work hard - some of our members can use the internet to such a high standard that even sighted people cannot compete.' Mr Lo said jobs such as telemarketer and interpreter were ideally suited to the visually impaired. He estimated there were about 70,000 visually impaired people in the city, with the number increasing. A spokesman for the Civil Service Bureau said the government welcomed applications from people with disabilities, who would compete on the same grounds as other applicants. 'Government departments that employ people with disabilities also provide these officers with on-the-job assistance, where necessary,' he said. 'Financial assistance is also made available for the procurement of technical aids for disabled officers. So far, a total of $3.4 million has been disbursed from a central fund for the purchase of technical aids, such as computers with Braille displays.' The spokesman said there were 3,241 civil servants with disabilities, representing 2.04 per cent of the total number of civil servants. Among those, 542 had some degree of visual impairment. An additional 39 visually impaired people worked on non-civil service terms.