Dear AccessWorld readers,
We hope you enjoyed our August issue, which focused on entrepreneurship. We will be providing more employment-related content in October in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness month. Employment is a major aspect of our mission here at AFB and at AccessWorld. As my predecessor Lee Huffman would say, "employment is the gateway to life." If you want to be able to purchase that new iPhone, travel internationally, and subscribe to all those streaming services you need to be employed.
If you mainly interact with AFB through AccessWorld, you may not be aware of our other projects and efforts. I wanted to take this space to highlight some of the important work we are doing in the field of vision loss.
COVID-19 has obviously disrupted everyone's life, but we were concerned about what additional challenges the pandemic may pose to people with visual impairments. AFB partnered with 15 organizations and companies to study the impact of the pandemic on adults with visual impairments in the United States. The Flatten Inaccessibility Survey launched on April 3, 2020, and was open for 10 days. Over 1,900 people completed the survey, which sought information about many aspects of life during COVID-19, from transportation and food access to access to voting and the impact the virus has had on participants' socialization. The Flatten Inaccessibility report will be released online soon.
AFB also conducted a survey regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the education of children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities and deafblindness. The survey was open to family members and guardians of children with visual impairments, teachers of students with visual impairments, and orientation and mobility instructors, and asked about the provision, receipt, and non-traditional delivery of educational services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most recently, AFB has been conducting research for a Workplace Technology study and we are currently seeking interested participants for the survey and focus groups. The literature review is in process, and the focus groups will be beginning soon. The survey aims to answer the following questions:
- What are the technology experiences (training, tools used, required job tasks, barriers, wishes) of workers with visual impairments in the focus areas of information technology/communications, telemedicine, and finance/banking?
- What mainstream and assistive technology tools will allow workers with visual impairments to be more successful in the three employment focus areas?
Please visit the Workplace Technology Study survey website if you're interested in participating or would like to know more.
We believe that having people with vision loss in leadership positions in companies and organizations is an important goal in itself, but that doing so is also a major aid to improving employment outcomes for people with vision loss as a whole. In an effort to achieve this goal, we have launched the Blind Leaders Development Program. The program matches individuals with vision loss who are in the early stages of their careers with mentors who have established careers in leadership to provide advice and feedback on what it takes to succeed in the workforce. The inaugural class began in January of 2020.
This is just a sample of the work we are currently doing at AFB. into learn more about our other projects and goals and stay up to date on important and timely issues for people with visual impairments, explore the American Foundation for the Blind website and blog.
I would like to thank all of you for being AccessWorld readers. Last quarter, we had almost 140,000 users visit AccessWorld. Knowing that so many of you find our work valuable is humbling and drives us to produce the best content we can.
We are always interested in your opinions and suggestions. If you would like to send a message to AccessWorld you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acting Editor, AccessWorld