Tips on Negotiating Assistance
The visual demands of the world of work necessitate that those workers who are blind or have low vision negotiate for assistance from fully sighted individuals on occasion. The key to successfully asking for assistance is understanding what it is that you need and asking for help appropriately.
Listed below are some of the types of helpers and why you might need their assistance.
- Drivers: These individuals can help you get to and from companies to pick up applications or do job interviews.
- Readers: These individuals can read the classified ads to you or other job postings of interest.
- Sighted Guides: These individuals can help you get around comfortably and safely in unknown areas.
- Scribes: These individuals can help you complete applications for employment that are not available in an electronic format.
- Personal Shoppers: These individuals can help you with shopping for personal articles, clothes, and other commodities that you may wish to have to work competitively.
Although you may not need any of the help listed above after you have started work, you may find that you need this kind of assistance in the job-seeking process and the early stages of your employment. If you can manage without assistance, that's wonderful; but don't hesitate to ask for help if it can ultimately make you more comfortable and let the employer see you in the best light possible.
The following pointers can help you in selecting, using without abusing, and thanking those individuals who help you in your job search:
Be sure that the assistance you request can be provided well by the individual you ask to help!
For example, before you ask someone to act as a scribe on your behalf you need to be sure the person's handwriting is neat and legible. You may also want to ensure that anyone who writes for you can spell and uses proper grammar and punctuation.
Bring your own pen for the scribe to use so that you are sure it works and that it is the color (preferably black or blue) you want it to be.
Be sure that the person who will be helping you understands his or her role and isn't overzealous!
For example, if you have hired someone to drive for you don't let the driver also think he or she needs to speak for you or represent you in job negotiations.
Remember that if you hire a driver it is your responsibility to secure addresses, telephone numbers, and directions to the sites you want to visit. You may want to carry a map of the city with you for reference in case your driver gets lost!
Be sure to reimburse the people who help you.
...if not with monetary payments, then with a gift or an exchange of service. Even if the person helping you doesn't expect or request a reimbursement, it is important to acknowledge the person's effort.
Be sure to schedule assistance well in advance of needing help.
If you schedule more than a week or so ahead of when you need help, you may want to reconfirm your scheduled help within 48 hours of the appointed time. Keep a schedule and document for your records with whom you have worked and with whom you wish to work in the future.
Ask around—compare notes.
Ask friends or acquaintances who are visually impaired how they have worked with sighted assistance and what they have paid the people who help them as a benchmark for your contracting with facilitators.
Contact an agency.
If you are going to need help with on-the-job-training (OJT), you may want to consider working with your state rehabilitation agency to access a job coach's services.
Finally, a reminder that the more you can do for yourself the better.
If you arrive at a job site with a retinue of sighted assistants, the employer may well ask himself or herself how you will manage without all of that assistance once you are hired...don't ask others to do for you what you can do for yourself!