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AFB Resources for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired With Multiple Disabilities

Man holding Ipad

You may have read a blog post here or there with information relevant to individuals with visual impairments and multiple disabilities, and you may have missed just as many. If you have multiple disabilities, or if you are a parent or specialist of a person with multiple disabilities, these posts are too valuable to overlook.

Below is a compilation of American Foundation for the Blind's career-related articles and blogs pertaining to individuals with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.

Additionally, browse AFB FamilyConnect's The Future Starts Now section to learn more about employment options and living arrangements for adults who have visual impairments and multiple disabilities.


Topic:
Online Tools

Self-Confidence: How it Increases Your Employability as a Person who is Blind or Visually Impaired

Joe Strechay in a suit speaking to a group of people

You know that guy or gal who [thinks he] knows everything about everything? The one whose confidence is overpowering and maybe just a tad nauseating? That is not, I repeat not, the self-confidence I am referencing in this mini blog series. Instead, I’d like to coin a new term that illuminates and more clearly defines the confidence I want us to achieve: humble confidence.

Oxymoron? I think not. The balance of humility and self-confidence is imperative. It means you’re sure of who you are and certain of your abilities and limits, yet you do not value yourself over your team members. You recognize others have their own skill-sets and you’re thankful for it. After all, the variety of talents and skills means you’re more powerful and effective as a group.

And just how does this self-confidence, this humble confidence, increase your employability?

  • You know what you’re good at and can foresee how your skill-set will improve a company.
  • You can discuss your talents and experiences with ease because you recognize and value them.
  • People, specifically potential employers, will believe your strengths because you will appear certain and trustworthy.
  • If you are accepting of yourself and your visual impairment, a good employer will be accepting of you and your visual impairment. Your confidence in yourself will be contagious.
  • You’re willing to make career-related decisions based on your desires and needs. In other words, you can take an active role in your career journey.
  • Your assertive body language is appealing. (Teachers and rehabilitation counselors, utilize the Lesson Plan: Exuding Confidence for relevant instruction.)
  • You can take calculated risks to advance in your career because you’re not paralyzed by fear and you can envision yourself progressing.
  • You have a realistic view of yourself and you know your limits. You know when to utilize job accommodations related to your blindness or visual impairment, and you know when to make changes or seek training to attain employment or improve your job performance.
  • You accept new projects and help others, but you also set boundaries and say "No".
  • You respect and value others’ talents, which makes you a natural team player.

Does this in-exhaustive list describe your level of humble confidence? If so, outstanding! I’m proud of you and I do believe you should be a CareerConnect Mentor.

If not, take a few minutes to consider where you are on the imaginary scale of humble confidence. To help you progress, look for the upcoming post, Self Confidence Part 2: How to Foster it as a Person who is Blind or Visually Impaired.

Humbly and confidently,

Shannon Carollo


Topic:
Employment

When Your Eyesight is Declining and You Need Help with Work and Daily Living Activities

Adult Daughter Arranging Help

If you’re like me, asking for considerable assistance has never been an activity you particularly enjoy. In fact, it can be downright wearing-jeans-two-sizes-too-small uncomfortable, or at least the social equivalent. Furthermore, if you are newly visually impaired or your vision is declining, you are probably finding yourself in need of more and more assistance with activities that were previously effortless.

Instead of focusing on any embarrassment or discomfort in asking for help, focus your attention on creating a plan to relearn independence and negotiate assistance with tact and grace.

Game-plan time!

In effort to relearn independence:

  • Utilize AFB's Directory of Services to locate a nearby agency that teaches skills to people who are visually impaired. You can learn travel skills; living skills such as adaptive cooking and cleaning techniques; braille; assistive technology skills; and employment related skills such as disclosing a visual impairment and utilizing job accommodations.
  • Ask others who are blind or visually impaired how they accomplish particular tasks without the use of vision. Seek career-specific counsel from CareerConnect mentor and pose questions on the CareerConnect message boards.
  • Practice your newly acquired skills until they’re second nature, mastering one undertaking at a time.

You’re going to need assistance on occasion- who doesn’t?! To succeed in attaining assistance with minimal to no discomfort:

  • Read the CareerConnect blog post Tips on Negotiating Assistance to learn about specific services that may meet your newfound needs. Service personnel include drivers, readers, scribes, sighted guides, and personal shoppers.
  • Read The Art of Reciprocating Support and Favors to brush up on etiquette for negotiating assistance. You’ll learn to compensate others for their time and energy, helping them as they help you.
  • Remember that people are social creatures that thrive in relationships. Your goal should never be complete independence, but a healthy interdependence. Meaning, it’s healthy to pay for services, compensate friends for assistance, and help others in areas of your strength.

You’re on a new, perhaps unexpected, journey. It’s wise to chart the course.

If you are a teacher or rehabilitation counselor working with consumers who are blind or visually impaired, utilize the Lesson Plan: Request, Accept, and Decline Assistance when teaching related information.


Topic:
Getting Around

Can Happiness Happen at Work for Someone Who is Blind or Visually Impaired?

A woman and a visually impaired young man working with an ipad

Imagine this: You are working overtime for the third week in a row, and you are having difficulty completing your latest project. No one is helping you met your quickly approaching deadline, and you feel extremely overwhelmed. You have missed your favorite TV show, your best friend’s birthday, and your weekly R&R all week because of this one task at work. You are frustrated and ready to give up.

So, is it possible to turn it around? Can you make happiness happen at work despite all of the chaos? Can you manage to find ways to be positive and stay focused during the busiest week yet? I bet you can!

We have all had days, even weeks, where we are unhappy at work. Whether that is due to a crazy workweek or issues at home, we have all experienced this at least once in our adult life. Fortunately, each day we have a choice. We can choose to stay buried in our own misery or to gather the energy and be happy.

But what are some ways to make happiness happen at work when you are having a bad day?

After searching through lists and lists of “things that make people happier at work,” I have finally picked out a few of my favorite ways to relieve stress and create positivity for my busy work day. Here are some of my favorite ways to turn a day around:

  1. Get Pumped Up. Mornings are not for everyone, so getting up and heading out the door can be a struggle. When I am feeling tired or sluggish, I like to find ways to get pumped up for work. For some that may be exercising before work, jamming out to your favorite song on the ride over, or giving yourself a little pep talk before walking through the office door. Remember, you got this!
  2. Have the Right Mindset. Having the right mindset is a must. When I am really stressed out about work or school, I have to adjust my perspective. I have to realize that I am doing the best I can. I can’t sit there and compare myself to my coworkers or fellow classmates. I have to remember that I am more than my job or the class I am taking. Just because I am struggling with one aspect of my job does not mean I am a failure.
  3. Plan for the Unexpected. We all plan out our workdays, but are we planning for interruptions? To keep stress levels low, try to plan for the unexpected as efficiently as possible. Make your list of things that need to be finished, prioritize them, and then take off two to three things that don’t need to be accomplished by the end of the day. We tended to over plan the amount of work we can actually get done in a single day. Concentrate on the important tasks first and don’t let the unexpected ruin your workday.
  4. Get a Helping Hand. When you are swamped at work, it is beneficial to ask your coworkers for help. Working together can improve efficiency and help meet deadlines. If you are responsible for a project, try delegating different tasks to those who are helping you. You don’t have to tackle the world alone. Asking for help doesn’t indicate that you are insufficient. If you do ask for help, make sure you have an attitude of gratitude. Say thank you and appreciate their contributions.
  5. Take a Breather. Sometimes we just get stressed no matter how many precautions we take. When you are stressed to the max, take a break. We must learn to relax no matter how challenging the work gets or how demanding our bosses become. We must take a breather and realize we are doing the best we can.
  6. End on a High Note. Before leaving the office at the end of the day, review all of the things you have accomplished. If your list isn’t very long, don’t worry. Encourage yourself and others for a better day tomorrow. If you overcame a difficult project or if you got everything finished, reward yourself for your hard work.

Try implementing this into your routine. Let us know how you make happiness happen at work in the comments below!


Topic:
Employment

Educating Sighted Students as a Teacher who is Blind

Brian with guide dog Bethany

There is a saying which goes, "Those who can't, teach." But what if you are fully able and still want to pursue a career in teaching? The new saying should be, "Those who care teach." At least that should be the case for Brian Quintana.

Brian Quintana exceeds classroom expectations of a middle school teacher. Teaching English and Social Studies classes to sighted students, Brian is an educator who is blind. So what is it like being blind and maintaining an educator's position in the school system? AFB CareerConnect had the chance to catch up with Brian, one of our outstanding mentors, in order for him to share his story.

Brian is a great example of a person who is blind or visually impaired working in an unconventional area of his field and beating the odds of doubt. To be sure, people with vision loss do go into education and make excellent teachers, administrators, instructors or professors for blind students or sighted adults. But very few are found controlling a classroom full of young, sighted students, especially middle school age. A walk through his daily routine highlights what it's like to be a teacher who is blind. After nine years of hard work Brian remains dedicated and passionate about his role in the classroom. And, daily, a byproduct of his work shows sighted students and colleagues alike that people who are blind or visually impaired can succeed in their chosen field of employment.

While enjoying his summer vacation like the rest of us Brian is also preparing for his return to the classroom. While "Back-to-School" may sound like it is only relevant to school aged children, Brian walks us through what having a career in the education system would be like.

So while you or your young ones are getting ready to head back to school, make sure to read Brian's story with your last bit of time off!


Topic:
Employment