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The Third Day of AFB CareerConnect; 3 Free Resources For Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

CareerConnect app icon

Can you believe it? Our holiday countdown is almost over, but don’t worry, we aren’t finished spreading holiday cheer! AFB CareerConnect has provided helpful advice, tips, and ways to improve your job search and work-life, but we haven’t given out any presents! So as we continue to celebrate the 12 Days to Christmas, the holiday season, and the New Year, here are a few free resources just for you from AFB CareerConnect!

  1. Job Seeker’s Toolkit. This gift is perfect for any job seeker! The Job Seeker’s Toolkit is a free online skills training course that helps users develop the necessary skills and tools they need to find their next job. The course covers self-awareness, career exploration tools, the preliminary employment process, the interview, and maintaining employment. There is no better gift than the one that can keep on giving, so register with AFB CareerConnect and get started today!
  2. CareerConnect Lesson Plans. This is the perfect gift for teachers, transition specialists, and rehabilitation counselors. CareerConnect Lesson Plans provide teachers with plans and ideas relevant to career exploration, preparation for employment, and navigating the employment process. With over 90 available lesson plans, teachers can customize the lessons to fit the needs of each individual student. And the best part? AFB CareerConnect is always adding new ideas and it is free!
  3. AFB CareerConnect App. Why not take CareerConnect on the go? Our new CareerConnect App is the perfect tool for professionals, job seekers, parents, and youth who are blind or visually impaired. Our app has been optimized for iOS VoiceOver and Accessibility features. With the app you can look up lesson plans, browse “Our Stories”, and read the CareerConnect blog. The CareerConnect app is available free for download for iOS, and AFB will be adding new features through the coming year!

Check out these free resources today, and don’t forget to keep an eye out tomorrow as we continue the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect holiday countdown! At the top of the page, choose to "Track This Blog" to get email notifications of our new posts. Go back to the CareerConnect Blog archive to read all of the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect posts.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Employment
Online Tools
Technology
Education
Transition

The Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect; 4 Tips on Disclosing Your Disability to an Employer as a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

woman interviewing man for a job

The Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect brings us to talking about disclosing your disability. I am quite passionate about this topic and get to speak about it around the United States with youth, adults, and employers. I wanted to take the time to provide four tips specific to the subject to continue our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect. We have covered job search tips, resumés, volunteering, inspiring stories, and much more. Here are a few tips and advice that could help you in the disclosure process.

4 Tips on Disclosing Your Disability as a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Has Low Vision

4. Take the time to think about how you would disclose your disability. I always include my disability within my sales pitch or my "Tell me a little bit about you" answer. Yes, I have a sales pitch about who I am and what I do. It changes depending on the audience and situation. What should your sales pitch include? Well, a bit about you, your accomplishments, work experience, skills, strengths, and your disability in practical terms. Yes, I talk about my disability in practical terms, and I don't say, "I have retinitis pigmentosa, which is the deterioration of the retina from the outside to the inside; deteriorating my field of vision first, as it moves toward the macula or center of the retina, which brings you detailed vision." I definitely don't say that, but I would explain my vision in practical terms of what I actually can see, and how I make up for it. I use technology. I would explain the technology in practical terms and might show off my iPhone. I write out the components of my sales pitch in bullets first. Then, I write it out in more detail. As I become more comfortable with it, I write it out in bullets again. Now, it is really second nature. You might have heard me say, "Your tell me a little bit about yourself is not an employment skill, and I use it almost every day."

3. In my personal opinion, the earlier you disclose your disability with an opportunity to discuss it, the better. The employment process is about building trust; an employer is not going to hire someone they don't trust. When we disclose information about our disability can determine the comfort level and level of trust. Many of us have experienced situations around our point of disclosure. I can personally tell that I have experienced negative reactions around my disclosure, even in our own field. I was an orientation and mobility instructor, and it was not that common to be blind or visually impaired when this happened. It is more common now, but still not common overall. If you wait to disclose, an interviewer can feel uncomfortable or put on the spot. My big belief is that I do not want to work someplace where they would discriminate against me for my disability. I can tell you that I think about that situation every time that I hear the name of the organization mentioned. Would I ever work there now, I don't think so.

2. Coach your references. Take the time to meet or have a detailed call with your references. Work with them on discussing your disability and how you overcome. Make sure they highlight how you were a benefit to the organization. Your references can be a great ally in the employment process, especially if they have been coached up.

1. Ask the employer if they have any questions about your disability and how you would do the job. Any questions left on the table will most likely cross you off the list for the position. Employers are not going to hire someone if they have lingering questions about their job performance.

Now that you have read the Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect, take the time to look back at the past days and track this blog at the top of the page for notifications for the rest of the days to come. You can also get more details on disclosure within AFB CareerConnect's free online course called the Job Seeker's Toolkit. Wait, there is more, you can visit the Conducting a Successful Job Search subsection too. Let us know your stories about disclosure in the comment section below.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Personal Reflections
Employment
Online Tools
Technology
Education
Transition

The Fifth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 5 Ways to Turn Volunteer Work into Job Experience for Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

For the fifth day of AFB CareerConnect, we wanted to bring you five ways to turn volunteer work into job experience. The fact is that volunteer experience is important regardless of whether you are employed. But, for those looking for employment, volunteer experience gives a person the opportunity to keep his or her résumécurrent. Besides keeping your résumé current, volunteering offers experience in developing references and connections. Review our tips and advice below on turning volunteer experience into job experience:

5. Treat volunteering like a job, and make the most of your time volunteering. Volunteering can be an opportunity to work hard and have others notice. People take notice when volunteers are working hard, and these same people can be great references for the future. Devote the time and effort that will set you a part from others.

4. Bring your passion and skills to volunteering. Use your volunteer experience as an opportunity to demonstrate your employable skills. Market and demonstrate those skills that offer a value, as this turns a reference into a recommendation and connection toward employment.

3. Pick your organization carefully. Find an organization that you feel will highlight your skills and offer a great name or story. Certain organizations are more well known. The cause might even create a connection with a future interviewer.

2. Develop and mine your volunteer connections. Make an effort to create relationships, friendships, and connections with the organization and the others that you volunteer with. These connections have their own connections, and when job opportunities become available, you want them to think of you.

1. Let people know that you are looking for employment. Don’t state that you are looking for employment within the actual organization, but make sure people are aware you are looking for a job. As stated above, these individuals have their own connections, and if they don’t know you are looking, they won’t think of you when opportunities come along.

Additional Thoughts

  • Don’t overextend yourself to the point where it puts a stress on your work or other volunteer commitments.
  • Choose the opportunity that highlights your skills most or offers the best connections.
  • Pick a cause that you are passionate about.
  • Continue to volunteer even after you become employed if you have the time available.

If you would like more career tips and advice, check out AFB CareerConnect. For more on volunteering, read our rock star content developer, Shannon Carollo's advice on this topic. You can also find lesson plans in the Lesson Plans for Teachers and Professionals section on volunteering.

Take the time to track this blog at the top of the page and look for the last four days of this series. Don't miss the tip that will get you that next position. You can also access the CareerConnect Blog through the CareerConnect App in Apple iTunes for your iPod Touch or iPhone.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Personal Reflections
Employment
Online Tools
Education
Transition
Social Skills

The Sixth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 6 Ways to Relieve or Manage Work-Related Stress as a Worker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

man walking with dog guide along a building's exit ramp

As we continue the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect with our sixth day, we felt addressing stress was appropriate with the holiday season upon us. Depending on your work, you might deal with deadlines, coworker absences, floods of customers, increased hours, frustrated consumers, or stress on your own personal budget. Every worker faces stress on the job at one point or another. You could be working in an office or in fast food, but all jobs have instances of stress. Successful workers typically know how to handle stress in a healthy manner, and I am not talking about hitting your computer or cash register with a sledge hammer. That would be an unhealthy way to deal with work-related stress. As a worker who is blind or visually impaired, there might be additional stresses on you. Being an individual who is blind or visually impaired often means you have to be more organized and plan further ahead. For the sixth day of AFB CareerConnect, we bring you six ways to relieve or manage work-related stress:

6. Starting off the New Year with an exercise regimen can make all the difference in the world. Doing 30 minutes of daily exercise can really brighten your day and improve your health. Fitting this type of routine into your day prior to work, at lunch, or after work can offer dividends in relieving and managing stress. Try walking, using the stairs in your building, or hitting the gym. I can vouch that all of these have helped me with my stress level at different times in my career.

5. Staying organized and planning ahead by using a calendar system can help to manage and prevent unneeded stress such as missing an approaching deadline for a project. You can read our post from the Seventh Day of AFB CareerConnect for more organizational tips.

4. Each person has different ways of relieving stress; some are definitely healthier or more impactful. But, the fact is hobbies that take your mind off of work can score, too. I know my wife, Jen, has taken up crocheting, while others might play video games, sew, craft, paint, write, or cook.

3. Finding reasons to get up and move around during the day can relieve or help to manage stress. Keeping your blood circulating oxygen and getting our blood flowing can help. I am not talking about avoidance or procrastination, which is counterproductive. I'm talking about a break that helps you refresh. Take a walk around the office or open a window and listen to the outside world for a bit. Then, get back to work.

2. Having a quick snack or glass of water during the day can offer a little pick-me-up. Many people forget to stay hydrated, and this impacts their body's functioning. A cool glass of water can offer some refreshment.

1. Go to the restroom and wash your face, as this can help spark your senses and feel refreshing. Now, don't take a shower in the sink and forget to dry off—don't be the wet guy. As simple as it sounds, this will relieve or manage some stress in the short term.

We wanted to provide you with six tips for the Sixth Day of AFB CareerConnect. You can read super blogger Shannon Carollo's past post on relieving work-related stress. You can also find a CareerConnect lesson plan series on stress management in the Lesson Plans for Teachers and Professionals section.

At the top of the page, you can choose to track the CareerConnect Blog to get notifications about new posts on the blog. Take the time to comment and let us know what you think of our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect countdown. And don't miss our final five days, as we countdown to Christmas and the New Year with employment-related tips and advice.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Personal Reflections
Employment
Education
Transition

The Seventh Day of AFB CareerConnect: 7 Ways to Get Organized as a Worker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Joe Strechay in the AFB New York office in front of a portrait of Helen Keller

As we continue our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect with our seventh day, I wanted to bring you some new tips and advice on staying organized. During this busy holiday season, it is easy to create clutter in your work space, get behind on projects, and become overwhelmed. Check out how these seven organizational tips can help increase productivity and reduce frustration at work and in life.

7. Keep on top of your filing system: Whether you are using an electronic folder system or a paper filing system, it is important to keep the folder titles straightforward. Common mistakes include creating more than one folder on the same topic. Make sure the titles are straightforward and easy to understand. A little time spent upfront can prevent a lot of time on the tail end.

6. Use a calendar: I can't stress enough the importance of using a calendar system. Whether you use an electronic calendar or a print format calendar, it is all about what works best for you. I prefer an electronic version, as I can't see a print calendar. I have my iPhone synced to my Microsoft Outlook software. This keeps me aware of important meetings, dates, and events. It also allows me to make sure I do something special for my wife's birthday or our anniversary. I love you, Jen!

5. Keep your e-mail account organized and clean: This means using appropriate folders, similarly to tip number 7. Also, make sure to clean out old messages or archive them in an appropriate folder. Take the time to delete the messages that you will never read, but this doesn't mean messages from your bosses. Just joking!

4. Keep your office, cubicle, or desk space organized: If it is not, take the time prior to the New Year to clean it up a bit. This will make you feel better, I promise (well, I kind of promise). Throw out the old handouts or conference materials you never reviewed again. Get rid of the old compact discs, too. Get your space organized.

3. Scanning important print documents and placing them in related electronic folders can provide a unified organization system. This can also provide you access on the road, if you are using DropBox or another cloud-based storage system.

2. Bring some organization to your wardrobe, as this impacts your work too. Organization is important in many aspects of your life. As an individual who is blind or visually impaired, I know this can relieve some stress. I will be honest, my wife has been a great help with this. She has been a great asset in my current closet system. She is a big believer in removing the clutter and cleaning out the clothing that you don't wear. Every so often, take the time to donate the clothing you are not wearing. Using a clothing labeling system can be a great help too.

1. Stay on top of your mail: I don't mean stand on top of it. Yes, I mean your mail that comes from the post office or your internal mail system at a business. As a person who is blind or visually impaired, I know how easy it is to let that go. Take the time to scan, magnify, or get assistance reviewing your mail. I know that I am a fan of the new KNFB Reader app (AccessWorld article), but it is a bit expensive. A desktop scanner can be awesome. If you have a scanner with a feeder, this process will go even faster. I don't have a feeder on my scanner. Mail can be something that gets you in to trouble with bills, paperwork, jury duty, or just losing connection with friends. It is the holiday season and we get holiday greeting cards (I prefer a nice e-mail).

Now that you have read my 7 Ways to Get Organized at Work, take the time to read my awesome colleague Shannon Carollo's tips from a past post. Don't let your organization get you into trouble in the New Year. Follow all of AFB CareerConnect's advice on staying organized. You might also like these classic thoughts on The Perfect Worker.

At the top of the page, you can choose to follow this blog and keep up with the rest of the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect's tips and advice countdown until Christmas, the holiday season, and the New Year. We will be summing this series up on December 23. Don't miss the tip that will lead to your next position.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Low Vision
Personal Reflections
Employment
Online Tools
Technology
Getting Around
Education
Transition