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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB Highlights Employment Work During National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Mentorship, Career Exploration And Technology Resources Help People With Visual Impairments Reach Their Professional Potential

NEW YORK (October 5, 2004)—What we do for a living shapes our daily schedules, social interactions and economic status. In fact, employment is an integral part of our personal identities. For the approximately four million working-age adults who have some form of vision loss, however, the common question "What do you do?" can be a source of great frustration.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), a national non-profit organization whose mission is to expand the opportunities of people who are blind or visually impaired, addressing the issue of employment is a critical objective.

An estimated 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired, and less than 50 percent of these individuals are successfully employed, according to AFB. Furthermore, a third of those who have jobs have an average monthly pay rate that is 37 percent lower than the pay rate of people who are not disabled.

"People who are blind or visually impaired are capable of doing a wide range of jobs, and technology exists today to accommodate them in more workplaces than ever before; yet their value as working citizens is severely under-appreciated," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of AFB. "The American Foundation for the Blind is committed to advocacy, education, research and training to not only encourage employment for people who are blind or visually impaired, but also to educate employers about the benefits of hiring such individuals."

AFB programs and initiatives that focus on issues related to employment include:

CareerConnect®
CareerConnect is an online employment resource, which includes a database of employed blind or visually impaired individuals who offer mentorship and support to people with similar disabilities who are entering the workforce. Available at www.afb.org/careerconnect, Career Connect offers features such as a resume builder, appointment calendar and a message center.

CareerConnect—available on National Disability Mentoring Day (October 20) and all year round—is a valuable resource for individuals and organizations looking for mentorship and career exploration opportunities. National Disability Mentoring Day is a program designed to provide a firsthand experience in learning about career opportunities and to promote the importance of developing the necessary skills to compete in today's competitive workforce.

AFB National Employment Center
Serving as an interface between employers, blind or visually impaired job seekers, and the rehabilitation professionals who serve them, the National Employment Center, based in San Francisco, conducts research, offers consultation and training opportunities, and directs advocacy efforts across the country.

AFB Web Site
AFB's web site, www.afb.org, is a technologically advanced model of accessibility that offers an abundance of information for people who are blind or visually impaired and for employers. The employment section of the web site includes tips and resources for employers and employees on a variety of career and workplace issues.

AccessWorld®: Technology and People with Visual Impairments
AccessWorld, the leading accessible technology publication from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), seeks to provide people who are blind or visually impaired, and members of the blindness field and technology community, with assistive technology news and product evaluations. Visit www.afb.org/accessworld to read the latest issue.

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For more information contact:
Carrie Fernandez
AFB Communications
(212) 502-7674
cfernandez@afb.net

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