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Sprint Is Committed to the Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Sprint Logo

“We want to be the best wireless provider for those with visual impairments; We want blind and visually impaired consumers, and we want to support them at every level,” stated definitely by Kelly Egan, Sprint’s customer relations manager for the blind and low vision community.

I recently spoke with Ms. Egan, who enthusiastically expressed Sprint’s commitment to building a relationship with the blind and low vision community.

And it’s not just talk.

Sprint hired a team of five contractors with visual impairments to work with Ms. Egan, who is also blind, as members of its growing accessibility team. The team includes individuals with a variety of disabilities who are committed to meeting the needs of consumers with disabilities with customized wireless plans, accessible wireless devices, and specialized customer care.

You may recognize these customized wireless services as Sprint IP Relay, Sprint CapTel, and SprintVision. These services meet the wireless service needs of individuals who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind.

We say thank you to Sprint for meeting our wireless needs, hiring individuals with vision loss throughout the company, and hiring individuals with vision loss for your accessibility team. We salute you!

Discover the Benefits of Hiring Visually Impaired Employees

What You Need to Know About Hiring a Person with a Visual Impairment

Hiring a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired: An Overview

Common Job Accommodation Questions and Their Answers for Employees with Visual Impairments and Their Employers

Our Stories: People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Succeeding at Work and Life


Preparing a Checklist for Your Journey to College: A Book Every College Bound Student with Vision Loss Should Read

College Bound Book Cover

Going to college? If so, I have a challenge for you. Read the new book from AFB Press titled, College Bound: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, 2nd Edition by Ellen Trief. If you are thinking, "I can't possibly add one more task to my agenda this spring or summer", re-consider. Trust me, I've read the book and it is essential reading for all middle and high school students planning to go to college, especially those who want to be successful. Available in paperback, online, or as an e-book, College Bound is an informative guidebook with valuable resources that can be utilized as you prepare for college as well as while you are in college.

Here's the scoop. Most students who are blind or visually impaired are unprepared for college-level coursework as well as the responsibility and freedom that come with attending college. As a result, many drop-out or take longer to graduate than expected.According to the American Foundation for the Blind, of the 23.7 million adults with vision loss in America only 4.1 million have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. Kind of surprising, huh?

Well, you can earn your degree if you are prepared for the responsibilities and increased academic demands awaiting you at college. The keyword is prepared. Give me five minutes to convince you how College Bound is one of the preparation tools you need.

The author, Ellen Trief, describes her book, College Bound, as being a "roadmap for a successful journey through college life." As with all new destinations we travel to, we often plan ahead by reviewing Google Maps, reading TripAdvisor, or by learning a new language. Consider college a trip you will embark on for at least four years. This is a trip worthy of some pre-planning. Prior to this new and exciting journey it is critical that you plan ahead and prepare by equipping yourself with the tools, knowledge, skills, and resources needed to succeed at obtaining a higher education as a student with vision loss. Simply put, this book is your self-help guidebook for your journey into college.

Student walking down a school hallway with his back to the camera

I love this book, not only for myself as a teacher of students with visual impairments, but also for you because it is organized in chapters that can be read in any sequence. It also includes several case studies of college-bound students you can relate to and learn from. You can read this book independently as a student, but I encourage you to also read along with your parents, teacher of the visually impaired, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or orientation and mobility instructor.

As you read the book, you will learn about the higher level skills needed to get into, successfully attend, and in my opinion, ultimately graduate college. As a member of your Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team, you can use the knowledge you gain from reading the book to identify and set IEP goals which will prepare you for the demands of college. Work to achieve the goals during your high school career with support and instruction from your team of professionals preparing you for your transition into college. This is great practice for coordinating your services; a skill essential for college success.

As you create a checklist of skills to learn and things to do for your adventure to college, add the following noteworthy items and resources to your list (learn about these and more when you read this book):

1. Apply to College: As a freshman in high school, start completing the items on the four year college planning checklist which is included in Chapter One. This chapter is also your go-to guide for learning about and applying for accommodations on the SAT and ACT.

2. Learn College Rules: Do you know the differences between high school and post-secondary education in regards to the laws, your responsibilities, classes, teachers/professors, studying, testing, grades, and setting priorities? These are compared side-by-side in Chapter Two and are beneficial for you to know as you advocate for yourself in college.

3. Learn Research & Library Skills: Chapter Seven is a must read. The author goes into great detail about the library and research skills you need to learn and practice before college. The process of carrying out research for a paper using online resources, books, and journals is broken down into steps which you can refer to now and while in college.

4. Complete a Technology Assessment Questionnaire (included in Chapter Nine): Identify your assistive technology needs, obtain the technology you need, and learn to use it before college. Following are just a few technology skills the book specifies you'll need in college:

  • Store information using cloud based services such as iCloud
  • Subscribe as a member to various organizations for accessing books such as Learning Ally, Bookshare, Project Gutenberg, etc.
  • Use screen sharing (also known as desktop sharing) software to access whiteboard and computer presentations.
  • Are you using the apps on your smartphone to access information and complete tasks in school? You will in college. Start practicing those skills now.

5. Practice Using a Live Reader: One chapter which stood out to me in the book and may for you too is Chapter Three (Essential Academic Arrangements). Will you need to use a live reader in college to access and complete the substantial amounts of required reading? If so, are you using one now? If not, you can learn tips for hiring a reliable reader, scheduling, and studying with a reader in the book.

6. Create and Use a Resource List: The resources throughout the book are valuable and some, to name only a few, include:

  • A list of keyboarding programs to learn effective touch typing skills
  • A sample letter requesting a reading list from a professor
  • A sample job posting for hiring a reader
  • A checklist to help you decide "What College Features Are Important to You?"
A woman standing outside with two female students laughing

College Bound includes additional chapters and resources on time management, organization, note-taking, study skills, computer skills, living on your own, etc. Unfortunately, if you wait until you are in college to explore and learn all of the required skills for navigating college, you may be faced with unnecessary and preventable challenges which will negatively impact your success in college.

Your college years have so much to offer you. Are you ready to start the journey by taking on my challenge to prepare now? If you do, make your first stop on your road to college to AFB's website to get a copy of College Bound to start reading!

Low Vision
Planning for the Future

Maintaining Employment As a Person with a Visual Impairment

Group of multi-ethnic business partners discussing ideas

We recently discussed landing a first job as a person who is visually impaired. We reviewed what it takes, from sound blindness-specific compensatory skills to sufficient interview preparation, and I mentioned we would continue the conversation to discuss what it takes to maintain employment as a person who is blind or visually impaired.

To maintain standard, competitive employment:

  • It takes satisfactory Orientation and Mobility.
  • It takes proficient literacy via braille or print-with-magnification and typing skills.
  • It takes use of assistive technology for note-taking, computer use, and access to print.
  • It takes organization of your work space; time; and print and electronic documents.
  • It takes negotiating job accommodations.
  • It takes negotiating assistance.
  • It takes courteous social skills. This entails using proper body language which will be visually interpreted.
  • It takes displaying consistent positive work habits.
  • It takes presenting oneself professionally with good hygiene and mature clothing choices.
  • It takes exceeding employer expectations.
  • It takes appropriate problem-solving techniques.
  • It takes staying relevant in one’s job field by continuing education and training.
  • It takes self-awareness, likely gained from pursuing constructive criticism. If a necessary compensatory, technology, interpersonal, or job-specific skill set is inadequate, pursue training.

Please utilize our free, accessible, and self-paced Maintaining Employment and Advancing Your Career eLearning course to guide you through developing many of the above characteristics.

Low Vision
Online Tools
Planning for the Future

It’s Valentine’s Day and You’d Love to Secure a First Job

Red and white Valentine's Day card with red hearts

Happy Valentine’s, my friend. Maybe your mind is on your special date this evening or perhaps it’s on Singles Awareness Day (It’s legit, look it up!). Regardless, allow me to turn our attention from that ever-so-cute and chubby cupid to that ever-so-overwhelming and important job hunt.

Take heart, folks who are blind or visually impaired can be successfully employed. Case in point—browse AFB CareerConnect’s success stories and note the variety of jobs held by people with visual impairments.

Yes, it’s possible for people with visual impairments to secure jobs, as well as exceed expectations and advance in careers. I think this begs the question for first-time job seekers, what does it take to land the job and perform well?

Let’s focus today on what it takes to land the job, and thereafter we’ll focus on what it takes to excel in the job.

AFB CareerConnect is here to guide you through these processes. Here you can gather expertise and ask questions. However, don’t forgo working with a local service provider; if you do all of the above, you will be best equipped to land your first job—one I hope you will love!

Low Vision
Online Tools
Planning for the Future

Pre-Employment Lesson Plans for Consumers with Multiple Disabilities

We previously discussed occasionally wishing we had a lifeline (in “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” terms) when it comes to teaching our students who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities. We want to ensure we’re not overlooking important skill sets, we wonder what practical skills are imperative for students with multiple disabilities succeeding in the workplace, or we’re new teachers and want a starting place. As a lifeline, I offered pre-employment skills and activities for consumers with multiple disabilities.

Today, I’d like to bring AFB CareerConnect’s lesson plans to your attention. They are geared for use with young teenagers who are blind or visually impaired preparing to transition to college or the workforce. I want to be sure you know many are appropriate or can be tailored for our consumers with multiple disabilities. Take note of the following FREE series of lesson plans.

Two female colleagues working with a laptop computer

Free Lesson Plans for Students with Multiple Disabilities

Social Competency Topics

  • Social Skills - provides consumers with an overview of verbal and nonverbal techniques for conducting themselves considerately, appropriately, and positively
  • Assertiveness Training - equips consumers to acknowledge their interests, desires, and concerns; advocate for what is important to them; manage conflicts; establish boundaries; and decline requests
  • Stress Management - presents endeavors and relationships that enrich emotional health and well-being, equipping consumers to manage work-related stress before it feels overwhelming

Employment Readiness Topics

  • What Is Work - builds an understanding of the basic components of work, such as planning and fulfilling responsibilities, contributing to a group, and working towards a shared goal
  • Journey to a Successful Work Experience - prepares teenagers who are blind for summer work experiences
  • Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide - prepares students for competitive, integrated jobs and careers
  • Problem Solving - introduces a systematic approach to problem solving through a motivating, practical application: fundraising for a celebration or field trip
  • Leadership Training - presents the self-advocacy and social skills necessary to become an effective leader
  • Money Management - introduces clients to spending and saving money intentionally and wisely

I hope you will find these series helpful. If you are familiar with additional lesson series or resources for working with consumers who are blind or visually impaired with additional disabilities, do share them in the comment section below.

Low Vision
Online Tools