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Job Applications Inquiring About a Driver’s License? Discriminatory—Here’s Why

"Hello ma’am, are you hiring," one can ask relentlessly around town; 'Job opening in _______ field' one can type in the search bar and scour the web with more intensity than a private detective. When determined to find a position, the hunt is on for an assortment of job applications in hard copy and electronic format. As we then fill out form after form after form, it’s easy to spot similarities—one of which is, "Do you have reliable transportation," or worse, "Do you have a valid driver’s license," even when driving is not an essential job function. While the former is arguably tolerable, the latter is arguably discriminatory. It’s a lose-lose for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

If yes is checked—well, that’s not completely honest, and you’ll have to backtrack, likely leaving the employer uneasy.

If no is checked—well, the application is likely to be dismissed before an explanation is read.

On the apparent grounds of searching for a reliable employee, the employer has discounted a (let’s assume) reliable, fully qualified candidate who doesn’t have a driver’s license because of a visual impairment. (Yes, the definition of employment discrimination.)

This is truly frustrating and very often impeding.

Learn former CareerConnect program manager, Joe Strechay’s, thoughts on the matter and hear how he addressed the issue with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in the blog post "Attention, Employers—This Is Employment Discrimination: Do you have a driver's license?"

So, what are your thoughts on the matter and how do you address the issue? We’d love to know.

Additional Resources

Equal Employment Opportunity Is the Law

Coverage of Age Discrimination and Disability Discrimination Laws

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from Job Seekers and Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Low Vision
Planning for the Future

When Your Visual Impairment Is Confusing to Your Coworkers

Perhaps you have retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and you are finding it increasingly difficult to use your vision in low light and, much to your frustration, you are aware of your gradual loss of peripheral vision. Let’s say you are currently reading fine print with ease, yet you are using a cane as you leave work in the evening, and you’ve been told you consistently fail to notice a coworker waving hello from the corner of the room. You’re overwhelmed, and your coworkers, well, they’re puzzled.

Whether or not your eye condition is recent or progressive, your coworkers are likely just as confused. They don’t understand the functional implications of vision loss. They don’t know those with different eye conditions see differently; they don’t know vision can fluctuate, and to make matters worse, they don’t know what you can see and if the topic is off limits. Should you address their concerns?

Yes, your visual impairment is yours—coworkers aren’t owed an explanation. Yet perhaps, it is in your best interest to address the unspoken questions.

Perhaps addressing your visual impairment subsides fears.

Perhaps addressing your visual impairment gets their minds off of it.

Perhaps addressing your visual impairment educates employers and future employers, and a few minutes of your time leads to their hiring other folks with visual impairments.

If you’re feeling up to quickly educating the team, read our tips for how to do so here: "The Frustration of Being Visually Impaired Without Looking Visually Impaired and How to Handle it On the Job."

Let us know your experience addressing coworkers’ concerns and any additional suggestions for others in this situation.

Additional Resources

Thoughts from the Road: Dealing with the General Public and Always Being "On"

The Fear of the Foreign: Addressing Unspoken Concerns of Hiring Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Deteriorating Eyesight and an Increasingly Difficult Workload to Manage

Learning About Blindness: Interacting with a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in the Workforce

Low Vision
Planning for the Future
Social Skills

Self-Awareness as the Spine of a Solid Career as a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Hi job seeker,

  • What careers will utilize your aptitudes?
  • What career are you motivated to pursue?
  • What accommodations will you utilize in order to excel in the job?

What skills need to be honed in order to thrive and promote in the field?

Accurately answering these questions requires keen self-awareness skills.

So, what do we know about the benefits of self-awareness?

Joe Strechay, Director of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, discusses in the blog post, "Self Awareness: Knowledge of Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses Offers an Employment Edge," how self-awareness is beneficial as we navigate the employment process, including finding a suitable job, building relationships at work, and developing career goals.

To learn more about developing self-awareness and utilizing it to acquire a job and excel in your career field, read the following:

As is evidenced in the above blog posts and articles, your journey to a solid career as an individual who is blind or visually impaired begins with a journey to self-awareness.

Related Posts

Unclog Your Filter! Constructive Criticism and the Importance of Seeking It As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Components of Emotional Intelligence (EI): Information to Increase Social Skills for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

National Photography Month and Captured Memories: The Moment One Chooses a Career

Personal Reflections
Planning for the Future

Community Travel Skills—a Predictor of Workplace Success for Individuals Who Are Blind

When you and I take a look at the employment statistics for people who are visually impaired, we wonder what can be done to improve them; specifically, we wonder how to educate potential employers, and we wonder if there are any skills individuals who are employed have that those who are seeking employment may need to master. Hence, I’ve been reviewing research and articles this morning. I’m discerning the research-based benefits of braille use, assistive technology skills, vocational rehabilitation services, and strong orientation and mobility skills. Today, let’s focus on the latter.

Orientation and Mobility

Adults, your orientation and mobility (O&M) training, or travel training for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, begins as soon as you are aware of your visual impairment. If you recognize you are losing vision, work with an O&M specialist in order to prepare for traveling with minimal or no sight. You will learn to utilize all of your senses as you travel, to navigate spaces while protecting yourself and to utilize a cane or other mobility tools. These skills will culminate into community travel, including planning and executing routes, utilizing public transportation, and safely crossing streets.

Community Travel Skills

What freedom and independence awaits when you can safely and confidently travel throughout your neighborhood, community, country, and world! You can grab lunch, run to the store, catch a movie, meet a friend, take a leisurely walk, explore the world—and why yes, you can commute to work. On the contrary, if you are shaky in your ability to venture into the community without assistance from a close friend or family member, you’re coming and going is restricted—and yes, your likelihood of obtaining and maintaining employment is reduced.

So, what can you do if this is you?

Read "The Link Between Effective Orientation and Mobility Skills and Gainful Employment for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" and learn how to embark on your journey to strong mobility skills.

Next, read "Why Should Blind or Visually Impaired Individuals Practice Orientation and Mobility Skills" to gain further motivation for your quest to obtain strong community travel skills.

Lastly, obtain O&M services by attending a residential program and/or pursue local mobility training.

Additional Mobility Resources

Getting Around
Low Vision
Planning for the Future

The Surprising Advantages of Attending Professional Conferences and How to Get the Most Out of Them

Alright students, job seekers, those who are looking to advance in your career, or even those of us who are looking to learn or improve upon a career skill—that likely includes every last one of us! I come bearing good news and a great resource.

Let’s ask ourselves: What exactly is my goal or ambition as it relates to my career? What is it that I want?

Maybe your response is to simply and quickly attain a first or subsequent job, or perhaps it’s to

  • enhance your job performance,
  • to learn best practices,
  • to learn a new skill and increase your marketability,
  • to gain mentorship,
  • to share your expertise with others,
  • to become more visible in your field,
  • to meet like-minded individuals,
  • to network, or
  • to get inspired/get out of a work-rut.

I’m here to implore you to consider attending a professional conference in order to conquer your objective. You see, the benefits of attending a professional conference are far-reaching and certainly facilitate attaining the above goals.

If you’re interested in diving deeper, David Ballman shares a number of benefits to attending professional conferences as well as suggestions for how an individual who is blind or visually impaired can get the most out of a conference, in his blog post, "Attending Professional Conferences: How It Can Boost Your Career."

Check it out; recognize a few surprising advantages of making the effort to attend a professional conference; learn how to have a successful, profitable conference experience; and crush that career goal!

Additional Resources

American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference 2018

Sow Seeds to Harvest Employment: A Letter to Career-Seeking Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Maintaining Your Drive in the Face of Adversity

Personal Reflections
Planning for the Future