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Employment Track Highlights from the 2019 AFBLC Program

The National Research and Training Center (NRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University will hold a State of the Science (SOS) research conference on employment throughout the AFB Leadership Conference. Sessions are sponsored by the NRTC, through funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (grant #90RT5040).

The 2019 AFB Leadership Conference Registration Site Is Now Open!

We are thrilled to announce that the moment you've been waiting for is hereregistration is now open for the 2019 AFB Leadership Conference (#AFBLC19)! Join us at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, as we bring together leaders in the field to share research and advocate for equal education and employment opportunities, as well as to address the needs of an aging population. The conference will have five primary areas of focus: leadership, aging and visual impairment,

Welcome to the 2018 AFB Leadership Conference and Kick-off Session "How Leading Tech Companies Are Raising the Bar for Blind and Visually Impaired Users"

The 2018 AFB Leadership Conference kicked off this week in Oakland, CA with a technology panel, moderated by Jennison Asuncion, Engineering Manager, Accessibility, LinkedIn. The panel consisted of Megan Lawrence,

Simple Accommodations Can Improve Workplace Safety for All

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. workplace accident death rate is higher for older workers. In the article, however, they also cite Ruth Finkelstein, co-director of Columbia University’s Aging Center, who cautioned against stereotyping. She said older people have a range of physical and mental abilities and that it’s

Analyzing Labor Markets and Employment Outcomes for the American Foundation for the Blind

Introduction Hello, AFB community, I'm Lorenzo Amani, currently a second-year doctoral student at Virginia Tech in the College of Public Administration and Public Affairs. I'm also a graduate assistant for Virginia Tech's Office of Budgeting and Financial Planning. My research interests are in labor market policy analysis, human capital management, and workforce development. I'm assisting the AFB staff this summer to develop various research designs that could inform employment and workforce development practitioners who serve people who are blind or visually impaired. Thus far,

A Conversation with Architect Chris Downey

On June 15, the American Foundation for the Blind will be honoring architect Chris Downey with a Helen Keller Achievement Award for his exemplary leadership in accessible design, and dedication to creating enriching and helpful environments for people who are blind or visually impaired. Downey lost his sight in 2008, and has since gone on to found his own consulting firm, Architecture for the Blind. He specializes in designing workplaces, museum environments, and vision

Hiring People With Disabilities Helps Everyone

Kirk Adams is president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. For most of us, work is a big part of how we define ourselves and measure our value. For many people with disabilities, it’s also the key to independence. That’s a point worth remembering in October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Finding employment remains a monumental challenge for people with disabilities. And no wonder: A May 2016 study (PDF) by the Perkins School for the Blind found that

5 Great Ways to Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of everyone's skills and talents. This year’s theme is "#InclusionWorks." The American Foundation for the Blind is proud to participate in NDEAM every year. Here are some ideas for ways you can use AFB’s resources to celebrate and support a workforce that is fully inclusive of people who are blind or visually

A Director’s Experience: Creating Employment Opportunities for Individuals Who Are Blind

This blog post is by guest blogger Ben Caro, a film editor, screenwriter, and director on a mission to change the perception of blindness in our society. Ben is directing Cathedrals, a short film starring an actor who is visually impaired. Read about his passion project and mission to advocate for employment opportunities for individuals with vision loss. Cathedrals by Ben Caro I had to look in strange places for the right actor to play the lead role in my passion film, an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short

Christine Ha Interview: Visually Impaired Chef, Author, and TV Personality

Christine Ha, Chef and Author Interview 3 with Christine Ha, winner of MasterChef U.S. season 3 on FOX, New York Times best-selling author of Recipes from My Home Kitchen (2013), co-host of "Four Senses, Canada" on AMI, and AFB Helen Keller Achievement Award winner Interview Date: September 11, 2015 AFB CareerConnect: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. AFB and AFB CareerConnect truly value you, your representation as a role model, and the passion and talent that you bring to the world.

Living (and Succeeding) with Vision Loss

If you havent read this USA Today piece on what its like to be visually impaired, you should. Every year or almost every year, my friend Mickey Damelio includes me in his Florida State University class called the Blindness Experience, which he has designed over the years. I feel lucky to have gone to graduate school with Mickey at Florida State University. He became one of my first friends from the program when he asked me to attend the free MTV on Campus concert with his wife and him. He is also the guy who introduced me to Paralympic sports and goalball. We were in a class on the psychosocial aspects of blindness taught by Lynda

Meeting Helen Keller

Helen Keller fought for the rights of war veterans for over 40 years. The Helen Keller Archival Collection contains photographs and documents testifying to the extraordinary impact she had on the personal and working lives of the men and women who served and fought in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. One such document is posted and transcribed here. Written 94 years ago today, the letter is signed by 30 ex-servicemen who were tuberculosis patients. It is a thank you letter to Helen Keller for visiting them and for inspiring them to rise above their misfortunes. Transcription of

25 Years After the ADA: Blind Still Missing from the Workforce

Struggles to achieve equality are never completely won. Allegations of bias and the tragic stain of racist violence dominate headlines decades after the Civil Rights Act was signed. American women strivestillfor equal pay in the workplace. And even as LGBT Americans celebrate the U.S. Supreme Courts affirmation of same-sex marriage, the response in some sectors of the country signals that their fight for acceptance is far from over. The lesson, always, is that no law or court decision promising equality can deliver as intended without a sustained, collective effort to follow through on its protections. At a moment when equality is very much on the minds of Americans, its fitting that weve arrived at the

Helen Keller: What Would She Say if She Attended Davos Today?

Yesterday was the first day of the Annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. At a time of global concern over economic disparity and cultural polarization it is interesting to read a letter that Helen Keller wrote in 1922.

ESPN's Stuart Scott Brought the Cool to Sports Coverage and Dealt with Vision Loss

As an avid sports fan, and someone who was a bit more than obsessed with sports growing up, the passing of Stuart Scott after a long battle with cancer was extremely sad news. I will admit that I spent more than my share of time in front of the television with ESPN on. I watched college basketball games late into the night and started my day with "Sports Center" and a few sports pages. For me, Stuart Scott was my idea of the coolest sportscaster on television. I can remember

Recent Poll: Disability Issues Could Have a Major Impact in the 2014 Elections!

Recently, RespectAbility (a national, disability-focused nonprofit) collaborated with major political pollsters to ask questions of likely 2014 voters in battle-ground states (states whose choice of U.S. Senate candidates in the November elections is uncertain and thus will determine the balance of power in the Senate). The poll results clearly indicate that candidates must consider disability issues in the upcoming elections! The poll found that 56 percent of likely voters in the battleground states identified as disabled and/or had a close friend or family member with a disability. This held true

It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Expect. Employ. Empower.

Each October, we mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” AFB’s CareerConnect team is dedicated to building tools, content, resources, and awareness around employment for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. We believe it is an exciting time in the United States with so many big changes and legislation working toward equality for persons with disabilities. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making progress. I often hear stories around the United States from professionals working in the blindness field and for

Celebrating Disability Mentoring: Saying Thanks to Our CareerConnect® Mentors

Oftentimes being successful depends on developing relationships with other people. A case in point is AFB CareerConnect. CareerConnect offers job seekers with vision loss ways to connect with others who can strategically help them in their career development process. For nearly 13 years, our online mentor program has put thousands of blind or visually impaired students, job seekers, professionals, and friends and family members directly in touch with mentors who have been able to help guide them in their field of interest, choose technologies used on the job, and more. These CareerConnect mentors, who are professionals with

An Interview with Michael Peters, Tournament-Based Fishing Angler

Recently, our CareerConnect(r) Employment Specialist, Detra Bannister, chatted with Michael Peters, a tournament-based fishing angler. Michael has glaucoma, which has led to some vision loss, but he has found ways to adapt to his low vision status. Using information from his eye specialist and from AFB, he has learned to continue doing what he loves and is eager to share his knowledge and encouragement as an AFB CareerConnect mentor.

John DeWitt Leaves a Legacy of Access and Mentorship for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

I recently learned that John DeWitt passed away. He was the founder of DeWitt & Associates, an organization that provided technology assessment and training in New Jersey for persons who are blind or visually impaired. He also worked for the American Foundation for the Blind from 1978 to 1989 as a resource specialist. John's passing was a great loss to New Jersey, the blindness community, his family, and all of the people he touched through his work and volunteering. I grew up in New Jersey and I also worked for the state for a period. I knew of John prior to my work, but I first had the opportunity to speak to him when he spoke at a "Circle of Bell Ringers" at the Joseph Kohn Training Center in New Brunswick,

AFB Launches an App for AFB CareerConnect and It's FREE!

You might be excited or just ecstatic that the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has just launched the CareerConnect App with some of your favorite features of the CareerConnect resource center. Hold your applause and high-pitched sounds of jubilation for the full deal on this momentous occasion. Am I hyping this app? Oh, yes! But I will tell you that this launch is just the beginning of more great things to come. AFB has worked hard to include some of the new and exciting features that vision professionals, job seekers, youth, and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired use from CareerConnect. The CareerConnect App includes four main tabs, and it follows the model of the widely used AccessWorld App (a free monthly technology magazine that

Lessons from J.W. “Bill” Marriott on Leadership: Developing and Listening to People

I learned a lot at the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference, but overwhelmingly people tell me that the conversation on leadership between AFBs CEO, Carl Augusto, and the J.W. Bill Marriott, executive chairman and chairman of the board at Marriott International, stood out as the conference

Ten Ways to Lose a Job: What Not to Do as an Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

In an effort to provide tips for maintaining employment, I decided it would be far more engaging to read a "what not to do" list. Enjoy the list and please don't try these at home… or at work! Without further ado: In order to lose a job…. Prove to be dishonest. Lying, cheating, stealingtake your pick. This includes lying on a job application or resume. Make a habit of showing up late for work and/ or meetings. Choose the snooze button instead of ensuring you make the bus and definitely don't have a plan B for getting to your location of employment. Miss deadlines and skip important meetings. Go on, delete your virtual calendar. Demonstrate poor communication skills. You can do this any number of ways. Ideas: Forgo eye contact

AFB CareerConnect Thoughts on the WSJ Article, "Are You Disabled? Your Boss Needs to Know"

You may have recently read the Wall Street Journal article by Lauren Weber about bosses asking employees to disclose whether they have a disability. Ms. Weber frames the issue pretty accurately, and I loved the comments included overall. Starting next week, all federal contractors (i.e., companies that do contract work for or with the U.S. federal government) will have to 1) ask whether their employees are disabled and 2) employ a minimum of 7% disabled workers or demonstrate that they are taking steps to hire disabled workers. This new language specific to federal contractors is a great follow up to President Obama's initiative for the U.S. federal government to become a model employer

Attention Blindness Professionals: JVIB Wants Your Input

Are you interested in employment and transition? The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is planning a free online event that will coincide with the November-December JVIB Special Issue on Employment and Transition, edited by Karen Wolffe. The week of November 18th, JVIB will be hosting an open forum with a blog by Joe Strechay, program manager for

My Favorite Time of Year: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

As my favorite month of the year kicks off, I think of all of the exciting updates I will be providing about AFB CareerConnectnew content and stories. I don't just love October because of Halloween, and getting to dress up (though I have been known to enjoy the whole costume tradition and Halloween partiesI make a mean pirate). No, the real reason I love October is because it's National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It focuses on my favorite topics: employment and persons with disabilities. I speak year-round on this topic, but during this month you all get it from many different sources.

Call for 2014 AFB Access Awards Nominations: Who Is Setting the Bar for Accessibility?

The American Foundation for the Blind is getting started with the AFB Access Awards process earlier than in past years, because the awards will be presented on February 28, 2014, at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY. You will find everything you need on the Access Award Nomination Submission Guidelines and Format. Visit the Previous Access Award Winners page, too, and

Calling All Transition and Related Professionals: Come to the National Transition Forum at the AFB Leadership Conference

I am pretty psyched to let you all know about a cool opportunity. I know some of you were involved in the past National Transition Network Forum work, and some of you were not. But I wanted to let you know that we will be having a section of the pre-conference at the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference focused on the National Transition Network. For those who don't know what the National Transition Network is about, it was framed around sharing innovative programs and methods for the transition of students who are blind or visually impaired. It typically involved programs from schools for the blind or visually impaired.

AFB CareerConnect Launches New Blog

Are you ready for a blog full of career pointers, employment tips, job seeking advice, and CareerConnect updates (plus all kinds of related rambling) from yours truly; my colleague, Detra Bannister; CareerConnect Mentors; and a slew of friends out there? I hope sobecause we have some exciting news! Without further ado, here is the new CareerConnect blog! Our first post is up and running, and contains some important newsLesson Plans for Professionals. As a rule, I tend to “decorate” my posts with

Get Your Children Thinking About Employment

Thursday, April 25, is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day How many of you are thinking about bringing your son or daughter to work? My opinion? I think you should speak to your workplace to see if you can bring your child to work on that day. "Hey AFB, can I bring my Australian Shepherd to work? So, she may not be a human child, but I pretty much treat her like my child." On a serious note, I can tell you a little bit about why I believe this day is so important to me and for children who are blind or visually impaired. I can tell you that my parents bringing me to work on occasion made a big

Wall Street Journal Story Sheds Light on Common Issue for Job Seekers with Vision Loss

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story titled "When It Comes to Hiring, Blind Workers Face Bias." It examines a study conducted by our friends at the National Industries for the Blind, and the many misconceptions employers (and hiring and HR managers) have when it comes to hiring potential employees with vision loss. They are just thatmisconceptions. NIB's president and chief executive, Kevin Lynch, had a few interesting things to say on the matter, and I agree

Getting Prepared for Careers, Jump Onboard the Employment Train!

Recently, I had the opportunity to conduct the first of six teen employment workshops for students who are blind or visually impaired. These workshops are being held in multiple states, the first of which was with the Overbrook School for the Blind ( in Philadelphia. The workshops allow me to work with teens and associated professionals on self-awareness, career exploration, pre-interview skills, and the job interview. They are really focused on the needs and present levels of the students, and are applicable to high school age students at various levels.

A Salute to Our Veterans: Thank You for Serving Our Country!

Veteran's Day is November 11, and I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of the persons who have served our country, including my father, uncle, grandfather, and many friends. I also want to thank all the soldiers still protecting us, at home and abroad. As with our friends at the honorable Blinded Veterans Association, the American Foundation for the Blind values our veterans, and we offer great resources that are utilized by persons with vision loss, veterans especially. AFB has a family of websites that include

Said the Protégé to the Mentor: Happy National Disability Mentoring Day!

As you might have read, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but in conjunction with this month-long observance is also National Disability Mentoring Daywhich is October 17. I believe far too many people don't realize the impact mentoring can have, both on others as well as themselves. We all have been impacted by mentoring, whether we know it or not. We have family members, friends, coworkers, and other persons who are or have been mentors to us. I can personally tell you

Thoughts on National Disability Employment Awareness Month

With October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), I am ready to give my standing ovation to a few groups these next few weeks. I will be providing a few posts during this stretch, and they all will relate to National Disability Employment Awareness Month in some way. I am not trying to take anything away from our friends, Major League Baseball, but as CareerConnect Program Manager here at AFB, this month is like the playoffs for me. (Although, as a Yankees fan, I'm pretty pumped for those playoffs too.) Over the past two years, I have been

A Thought on Dog Guides in the Workplace

[Editor's Note: The following post comes from Jim Kutsch, in light of September as National Guide Dog month. In addition to his role as president and CEO of The Seeing Eye, Jim is also a CareerConnect mentor.] I first came to The Seeing Eye in 1970 as a 19-year-old sophomore at West Virginia University. My Seeing Eye dogs helped me through a number of careers, starting as a college professor and then as executive in the telecommunications industry. Today, I have the unique distinction of being the first Seeing Eye

Winner Is Served: Christine Ha Takes Top Prize on MasterChef

It's been no secret that here at AFB, we're all pretty big fans of Christine Ha, the visually impaired contestant (and now, champion) of FOX's MasterChef, which concluded last night. As winner, Christine takes home some pretty sweet prizes$250,000 and a cookbook dealperfect for a person who describes herself as both a cook and a writer! Join us in congratulating Christine on this wild achievement, and if you haven't been keeping up with MasterChef or Christine's progress, here are two posts from earlier in MasterChef's season, as well as our interview with her. (And don't forget to read

Meet Connor Boss, Miss Florida USA Contestant, Legally Blind

A few weeks back, you might have seen features on ABC's Good Morning America, CNN, and other media outlets about the Miss Florida USA, contestant with a visual impairment called Stargardt's Disease. You may have heard that Connor Boss finished fourth overall in the competition, but won a few hearts and opened some eyes along the way. I saw her interview on Good Morning America and loved her upbeat attitude about

Christine Ha Cooking Her Way to Being Next MasterChef

Have you heard about Christine Ha? She's a contestant who’s blind on MasterChef, the FOX Network Primetime reality television cooking competition starring Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot. These star chefs and food critic judge aspiring cooks from around the country on their culinary skills. Christine is a University of Houston graduate student and a food blogger who shows off her skills in many ways. "You have an excellent palate!" said Chef Gordon Ramsay about Christine Ha. Ms. Ha is coming straight from MasterChef to answering some questions for AFB

MasterChef Cooks Up Positive Portrayal of Blind Cook

I was catching up on some television recently when I caught the season premiere of MasterChef, starring Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich. My wife said to me, "Wait, I think I just saw a white cane." She rewound the recording and there was definitely a woman using a white cane. "Oh no," I said, "how are they going to portray her on this show?" We continued watching, and they teased it a little bit. They had her as the last person to compete for a spot on the episode. MasterChef features cooks from around the country

Be Kind, Rewind: How Your First Job Affects Your Entire Career

I often have the opportunity to give presentations or workshops to professionals, adults or teens who are blind or visually impaired. I speak about the employment process, resources, and the route to a career or successful employment. It always brings me back, thinking about my very first job. It was at a video rental store that also provided photo processing and enlargements. I started working there when I was14 years old, through a bit of a fluke. I'd decided I wanted a job,

Working from Home: Everybody Likes the Idea of It!

"Hello there, do you want to work from home? Do you want a shorter commute?" Working from home is a hot topic and has been for a while. Often people think of all the positives about working from home, but do not grasp the negatives. Most of us receive emails telling us about the latest work-from-home opportunity, but many of these turn out to be scams. I am Joe Strechay and I work for AFB in the CareerConnect program. I write about employment issues. I get the opportunity to look at a lot of "work from home" opportunities some valid, many not. The idea of working from home is very enticing; your commute is limited to a desk in your home, you are your own onsite supervisor, and the dress code is very lenient (I prefer