by Shannon Carollo
Perhaps you are a blind or visually impaired job seeker and you’re ready to create a LinkedIn account or you have a LinkedIn account with an underdeveloped profile and connections.
First, you’re going to want to know how to utilize LinkedIn as a person who is blind or visually impaired. Yes, LinkedIn and its general features are accessible!
Second, you’ll want to read AFB’s reprinted article Grow Your Connections Through LinkedIn. Here, Ms. Thomas instructs us to complete every [that’s right, every!] section of the profile, promote your personal brand (as opposed to a current or former employer), max out the available skill slots, utilize key words from your career field, upload a professional-looking head shot, “invite” connections, connect to groups, and ask for recommendations from your contacts.
Benefits of Using LinkedIn
Assuming you invest the time to follow the advice from Ms. Thomas, these are the benefits you can reap [while some are specific to having a visual impairment, most are not]:
- Your profile (which is your full-bodied resume) can be read while your visual impairment is not even on the table (the way it should be!).
- If the prospective employer knows you have a visual impairment, showing and telling your high-quality work, talents, and job-related successes on LinkedIn is one opportunity to answers the question he or she is wondering, “Can he perform the essential job functions without sight?”
- You can have career-related discussions with other professionals within a specific LinkedIn interest group. You’ll be strengthening your social network as you learn from one another.
- You can browse recommended jobs, as well as research individuals who work in the offices…just remember the individuals are alerted when profiles are read!
- You can learn skill sets needed for specific jobs by exploring profiles of ones in your desired career field.
- You can look to see if you have any connections who work in your desired career field.
- You can expand your knowledge base by reading recommended articles.
- You can share your knowledge and expertise by publishing or sharing articles and resources.
- You can connect others who would benefit from each other, leave positive feedback and recommendations for others, and endorse the skills of others—the secret to unlocking the potential of your social network.
Now get to preparing that profile! Don’t wait—LinkedIn is an incredible tool for today’s job seeker!
Time to Get LinkedIn
by Shannon Carollo
The year is 2017… and wow, our third-grade selves would be shocked to see those digits. Speaking of digits, it seems the world has gone digital. Text messaging is preferred over post-it notes. LinkedIn is the networking tool of choice. Auto draft is the way to bill-pay. Fly to San Francisco for a job interview? Not necessary. There’s a video conference call for that. You get the picture.
So, in this information and technology age, is print outdated and irrelevant? No way! I still jot notes, read books and magazines, create labels, use maps, and more. Same goes for the usefulness of braille.
And just how can braille be used in a job setting? Check out these examples and add your own in the comments section!
Using Braille on the Job
- The meeting is still going on? Wish you could check the time unobtrusively? Two words—braille watch.
- Taking notes in the meeting? You’ll probably want use a NoteTaker or laptop with a refreshable braille display.
- Need to read a book or document and you need/want a little space from technology? Hard-copy braille is your friend.
- If you want to read a book, pamphlet, or document, braille (whether a hard copy or refreshable braille display) can be read more quickly than speech can be listened to. Choose braille.
- It’s the office fridge and it holds a selection of your frozen meals (or if you’re like me, a variety of frozen burritos). Label the packages with, of course, braille.
- Whether you like to keep a tidy office and have a few cleaning products on hand or your job entails cleaning, do yourself a favor and braille-label the chemicals.
- Jotting a quick note or phone number? There’s a slate and stylus for that.
- Have an upcoming speech or presentation? Lucky you; you can follow along with your notes using your hands, meanwhile looking up toward the audience.
- Your job requires filing, filing, and (sorry) more filing, the braille-labeler is your BFF.
- Heading to Red Lobster for a work lunch? First, I’m jealous. Second, braille menus. [Hey, remember that time Red Lobster’s CEO gave us advice on leadership and career success? That was cool.]
- Traveling for work? You’ll be thankful for braille in elevators, on bathroom doors, on ATMs, on hotel floors, and at public transportation ticket machines.
- Sure, you can listen to an audio calendar, but sometimes it’s just plain nice to have a braille calendar on the wall or at the desk to help you gather your wits.
- Need to review a tactile map? You’ll want braille for that.
I look forward to reading what you all add to the list!
Yes, it’s 2017 and braille is still relevant.
Resources on Braille
by Shannon Carollo
I wonder how many job seekers feel similarly to my good friend, Jaci, a military veteran who paused from the workforce for several years as she reared her young children. Today, while working part-time in their school, she is finishing her degree in Human Resources and looking forward to jumping back into a full-time career.
Needless to say, she has concerns with her resume. How can she explain her gap in employment? How can she generalize all the knowledge and skills she acquired in the military? How can she, in a one page document, convince potential employers her military experience is relevant to the civilian world?
I know resume concerns vary. Perhaps you wonder what to write when you have yet to be employed; you aren’t sure which jobs to highlight when you’ve held many; you wonder which skills are transferable from an obscure previous job; you’d like to compare your resume to a sample resume of one in your desired career field; you think your resume format is outdated; or you simply want a professional to scan your resume for errors. The list goes on.
I hear you. To help, I have compiled a list of (mostly) brick and mortar agencies who can assist you in your resume development:
- Contact a CareerConnect Mentor and ask a specific question regarding skills to showcase on your resume.
- Seek the support of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor whether from a state agency or a private agency for the blind and visually impaired. (Locate a local service provider by using our directory of services).
- Inquire about resume-writing help at your local library or at your local university’s career center.
- The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors an American Job Center in every state. Search for the one nearest you and receive assistance on resume writing.
- If you are a high school student, make an appointment with your school’s career counselor.
- If you are a university student, ask your school’s student disability resource center if there is a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor on staff who provides assistance with resume development.
- If you are a US military veteran, utilize the services of Veteran's Employment and Training Services, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Am I missing any service providers? If so, add them in the comments section.
Ah, one more thing. For all of you with a particular concern regarding a gap in employment or other situation you wish you could explain in your resume, take heart: consider mentioning it in your cover letter. Not sure how to work the info into your cover letter? I’ll leave you with the following:
Resources for Your Cover Letter
by Shannon Carollo
You likely know January 4th is World Braille Day, as it is the late Louis Braille’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Mr. Braille. We think you’re pretty great.)
For the past several World Braille Days, I have written to parents of blind or visually impaired children via the FamilyConnect Blog in hopes of educating them (particularly parents of blind babies who are recently immersed in our community) on braille and its value to folks who are blind or visually impaired.
I talk about the gift of furthering independence braille provides. I discuss the statistics regarding adults who are blind or visually impaired who extensively learned braille in early childhood; they are more likely to be employed than their visually impaired peers who struggled through learning print. I continue with an overview of braille and share how braille is taught and how parents can help the learning process at home.
I wonder, as adults who are blind and visually impaired, many of whom have mastered braille and many others who have little exposure to braille, what you would add.
- If you have mastered reading and writing braille, how has it shaped you and offered independence to you?
- If you have not mastered reading and writing braille, do you feel you are at a disadvantage? If applicable, how do you believe mastering braille would be to your advantage?
- Lastly, what advice would you give parents regarding literacy for their children with visual impairments?
I can only imagine how weighty your words and experiences are to parents of young children and teens with vision loss. Would you please take a minute and share with the parents in the comments section? I’ll be sure to forward them your remarks.
Lastly, it’s not too late to learn braille. If you’re ready to learn it, here’s what you should do:
- Read about learning braille as an adult
- Read personal stories about learning braille with low vision
- Discover the importance of braille literacy skills on the path to employment
- Visit AFB's directory of services to find a local agency offering braille instruction
- When you're ready, explore AFB's Product Database to find refreshable braille displays, braille printers, braille translators, and other braille devices
by Shannon Carollo
Many would say the most significant inconvenience for workers with visual impairments is limited transportation. Yes, it would certainly be easier if you could simply drive yourself to and from work. I’m sorry this isn’t an option…I hate that it’s not. Perhaps self-driving cars will be a safe, yet expensive, possibility of the future. For today, the reality is walking, carpooling, or public transportation.
If you live close enough to work that you can walk, what a time-saving option! Many envy you, I’m sure.
If you catch a ride with your spouse, parent, friend, or coworker, you have the opportunity to get to know one another well: a wonderful benefit. However, this rosy situation can get thorny real quick if the arrangement is not beneficial to both parties. Relationships that aren’t reciprocal usually don’t last too long. So trade rides to/from work with your spouse for dinner prep and cleanup; trade rides with your parents for pet care, lawn care, and gas money; trade rides with your friend for daily coffee, weekend entertainment paid by you, and gas money; trade rides with your coworker for substantial gift cards for gas and the occasional gift card for a restaurant to be used with his/her spouse.
Now, if, like most, you rely on public transportation, not only are you likely saving money (substantial gas gift cards, weekend entertainment, daily coffee… this adds up quickly!), but you also have the opportunity to leverage the commute time (and what better new year’s goal is there?!).
First, take a few minutes to decompress from the day. Sit quietly and breathe deeply, play a few relaxing songs, or even take a mini nap [just don’t forget to set an alarm or you may miss your stop!]. Beating work-related stress is vital to your mental health—don’t wait until the stress has compounded, the commute to and from work is a grand time to incorporate de-stressing activities into your routine.
Reflect on your goals for the next day of work. Prioritize and record them. You’ll be more prepared for the day ahead and have an easier time “leaving work at work” when you have a plan.
You may feel the urge to peruse social media. Do it, and while you’re there, send a few messages and intentionally connect with others in effort to expand your social network.
A commute can be an ideal time for remaining current in your career field. Read publications, watch tutorials, follow relevant blogs, or take an online course.
Work on a hobby. You could read, write, plan a creative project, watch a show, play a virtual game with a friend, or write a computer program. [What other hobbies are bus-appropriate? Write your suggestions in the comment section!] Remember, there are work-related benefits of hobbies!
Of course, you can always work during your commute. Make a phone call, return e-mails, produce material, mentally rehearse a speech, and catch up or get ahead.
I hope it is evident that though public transportation may not be your first choice, it is not without benefits. This year, commit to take full advantage of them.
More on Commutes
If you live where there is no public transportation, consider relocating. I realize this is easier said than done, but it may be the only route to employment.
With public transportation, you can travel independently and interdependently as a professional who is blind or visually impaired.
For a dose of inspiration, read the interview of Ross Silvers, a blind man with wonderful travel skills.
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