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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Blog Posts by Alicia Wolfe

Are You Prepared to Succeed in College As a Student Who Is Visually Impaired?

Once you graduate from high school, your adult life as an individual with vision loss begins; a life that will be shaped by the decisions you made in high school. After you receive your diploma and toss your cap, will you have a plan to succeed in the workforce and to fulfill your dreams as an adult who is visually impaired? If your plan includes pursuing higher education to obtain a college degree or attending a career school (also known as technical or vocational school) to learn specific skills needed to perform a job, you’ll want to be fully prepared to pursue your dreams. Five Questions to


Paying for College As a Student Who Is Visually Impaired

When you hear the words college education, do you automatically think cha-ching? It’s quite normal to associate dollar signs with attending a post-secondary institution, especially as the costs of a college education continue to rise in our country. Unfortunately, many teenagers and adults with vision loss often assume college is not an affordable option for them to pursue. Have you made the same assumption for yourself? If so, I encourage you to reconsider. Attending college or career school may be more affordable than you think. The reality is there are many resources available to assist you as a student with vision loss for paying


Introducing the Transition to College: Program Activity Guide for Students with Visual Impairments

Across the nation, it’s a critical time of the year for teachers of students with visual impairments and other professionals responsible for providing services to students who are blind or visually impaired. We are actively engaged in a state of preparation and planning for our students as they begin their journeys into the new school year. Not only are we responsible for teaching and supporting students with visual impairments in learning the skills needed to have a successful school year (academically and socially), but we are also preparing them to be future employees in the workforce. In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported people with a disability are less likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher than those people with no disability. In


Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind Are Employable; Helen Keller Is Proof

Two days ago, I returned an item to a retail store and had the pleasure of being assisted by an employee who was deaf-blind. Coincidentally, this week happens to be Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. I seized the opportunity to observe the employee work and immediately felt proud of him and thankful to the retail store for giving him the opportunity to work. Not only was he earning a paycheck, but he was essentially demonstrating to everyone in the store that individuals who are deaf-blind can be successfully employed in the workforce. As I stood in line, I compared his actions to the non-disabled employees in the store working. He exuded confidence in his abilities to assist each customer. His smile and effective communication skills using sign language were welcoming


It's Officially Summertime! Don't Let Your Productivity at Work Go on Vacation

It’s the 22nd of June and the dog days of summer are officially here! Bring on the mosquitos, barbecues, beach sand, air conditioning, flip flops, heatwaves, and for some employees, vacations! While many working citizens who are blind or visually impaired use the summer months to take time off from their jobs, not everyone is able to. Maybe it’s a lack of paid vacation days or the extra money needed to travel. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to stay focused at work during the summer months when you'd rather be at the beach, lounging by a pool, or visiting your family in the mountains. Being productive at work when


Are Your Unemployment Challenges As a Person with Vision Loss Making You Bitter or Better? You Have a Choice.

Bitterness is a feeling many of us experience during our lives. Life can be hard; especially when it is not going as we’d like or planned. Challenges in life come in many forms such as financial problems, relationship issues, a disagreement at work, etc. Letting those challenges cause us to be resentful or angry is easy to do. However, choosing to respond differently to challenges in life can make a big difference in our overall success as a person both personally and professionally. Are you having challenges meeting your employment goal as a person who is blind or visually


Don’t Let Your Visual Impairment Keep You from Asking for a Pay Raise

It’s time for your annual work performance appraisal, and you are considering asking your boss for a pay raise. The money talk. It can be uncomfortable, even embarrassing. In some instances, it can be plain awkward and just thinking about it might cause your palms to sweat and your heart to pound. As an individual who is visually impaired, you shouldn’t feel less deserving of a pay raise than your sighted colleagues. You are a hard-working, dedicated employee like them who just happens to be visually impaired. Right? Have you been going to work for the past two years working as hard as you canglad that you even have a job? Maybe it’s time


Job Forecast for June: Employment Opportunities for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Did you hear about the job hiring forecast? It's raining jobs! According to CareerBuilder, 45 percent of employers plan to hire permanent, full-time employees this quarter and nearly half of employers are hiring temporary workers over the next months. Contrary to the 2017 hurricane forecast, which projects an above average number of named storms this season, I'm genuinely excited about the hiring outlook. Job seekers and professionals serving individuals who are blind or visually impaired, you should be too! Wait, there's more. CareerBuilder also projects that 62 percent of hiring employers will place


Solutions or Excuses? Which Describes Your Actions As a Job Seeker or Employee Who Is Visually Impaired

The title of my blog may cause you to raise your brow. As a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) working to prepare my students who are blind or visually impaired for the workforce, I find myself raising my brow when I hear excuses from students who choose not to locate or utilize known solutions to be successful in school, successful in the workforce, and well, just successful period! All of my students with vision loss are capable of achieving their individual greatness in this world, and I know you are too. I get it. I'm guilty of making excuses too. We all are. Excuses are often our way to deter our regrets or humiliation and protect ourselves from criticism. When I didn't exercise yesterday by going on my daily walk, I blamed it on the Florida heat. It was a credible


It's National Teacher Appreciation Day! How Will You Show Your Gratitude for Teachers of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?

Today is a day for honoring all teachers in the teaching profession and for recognizing the contributions they have made to the lives of their students. Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller's beloved teacher, once said, "No greater honor can be paid a teacher than the recognition of her work." As a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and former student of many influential teachers, I couldn't agree more with Anne. This week, students, parents, and others will recognize the important work


Is Asking for Help at Work As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired a Sign of Weakness?

How many times this week have you (with a feeling of reluctance, a timid voice, and a cringe on your face) asked someone for help? I recently asked for helpthat is, after I spent an hour attempting to troubleshoot a problem I had with my tablet. After I put my frustrations and stubbornness aside, I called technical support, and my issue was resolved in five quick minutes (by a technician who graciously thanked me for calling). Why didn't I just call and ask for help to begin with? I'm sure you can relate whether sighted or visually impaired. Many of us take pride in being able to figure things out by ourselves and often go to great lengths before having to admit we don't know the answer and succumbing to asking for assistance. I know I sometimes do.


Is Your Visual Impairment the Reason Why You Aren’t in the Workforce? It Shouldn’t Be.

Does the thought of someone asking you what you do for a living fill you with anxiety, stress, or embarrassment? If you're currently unemployed, I imagine you'd like to avoid answering the question or change the topic of conversation. This might be especially true if you are at a social event with others who are employed and (boastfully) exchanging answers to the popular ice-breaking question, "What do you do for a living?" Working matters to us all; not only to sighted people but also to individuals who are disabled, including blindness and visual impairment. Holding a job contributes to our self-identity in


Hey Teens with Visual Impairments, Looking for a Summer Job?

In less than two months, it will be June, school will end, and summer will be underway. Your friends and yes, even your teachers, will start their summer jobs. Will you? Let's face it. You're running out of time. The standard method of researching and applying for summer job openings can be time-consuming. It's time to ramp up your job hunt by using "word of mouth" or "good old-fashioned networking" to spread the buzz you are looking for a summer job, internship, or an opportunity to volunteer your time. Yes, I know. You caught me. I expanded your search to include a


Preparing for an IEP Season that Yields a Refund (or Return) for Future Job Seekers

As a tax payer, I'm feeling the crunch of tax filing season. If you're receiving a refund from the IRS, perhaps you are looking forward to the tax filing deadline on April 18th. However, if you owe the IRS more money, a sense of dread may best describe your feelings about the annual season and imminent deadline. As a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), I'm also feeling the crunch of IEP (or Individualized Education Program) season. While I prepare to update student IEP's for next school year, I find myself pausing to consider how IEP season is similar to tax season. In addition to meeting deadlines and the paperwork involved, some students who are


Preparing a Checklist for Your Journey to College: A Book Every College Bound Student with Vision Loss Should Read

Going to college? If so, I have a challenge for you. Read the new book from AFB Press titled, College Bound: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, 2nd Edition by Ellen Trief. If you are thinking, "I can't possibly add one more task to my agenda this spring or summer", re-consider. Trust me, I've read the book and it is essential reading for all middle and high school students planning to go to college, especially those who want to be successful. Available in paperback, online, or as an e-book,


AFB CareerConnect Launches the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide

AFB CareerConnect is proud to announce the addition of the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide on the CareerConnect website. With the national implementation of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), states are working to increase pre-employment transition services to youth who are blind or visually impaired to assist them in accessing and succeeding in the workforce. AFB CareerConnect has responded to this innovative and important act by developing activities to


Calling All Transition Professionals and Providers to….Summit Up!

We all know it's getting time for school to resume for students when we begin hearing the words "school supplies, stock up, deals for the entire family, uniforms and backpacks", on television commercials. Perhaps you are amidst the frenzy now, preparing your children for another year of learning. Or perhaps you are enjoying the last weeks of summer on a vacation with your family or friends. Wherever you may be, if you are a Transition Provider or Professional, now is also the time for you to check your resources and get geared up! For starters, your "to do list" should at the very least include these 2 things: Join the National


Our Stories Interview with Ross Silvers

As a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, I value the opportunity to spend time with adults who are visually impaired and successfully employed. On those occasions, I find myself noting the skills the adult has and am reminded of what I need to teach my students so they can achieve the same success in the working world. I recently had lunch with a friend of mine, Ross Silvers. Ross is the Mobility Manger for Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and he uses the bus as his primary mode of transportation. When I picked Ross up for lunch, he asked me if I wanted to eat inside or outside. Even though it was a typical humid Florida day, I


Our Stories Interview with Joel Isaac, Senior Accessibility Specialist:Subject Matter Expert for JPMorgan Chase

Do you desire to learn? CareerConnect is excited to introduce you to a new CareerConnect mentor, Joel Isaac. Joel's lifelong desire to learn is something we should all strive to have more of; especially job seekers. It could be the one skill you need to improve upon in order to land or maintain a job. Joel is a Senior Accessibility Specialist: Subject Matter Expert for JPMorgan Chase (one of the largest banking institutions in the United States). AFB CareerConnect staff had the opportunity to meet Joel at the 2015 AFB Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona (Joel was gathering new information of course!). Joel's story is one in which every young adult