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Christina Holtzclaw Uses Her Career to Empower People with Disabilities

For the last 14 years, Christina Holtzclaw has worked tirelessly at the Northwest Georgia Center for Independent Living in Rome, Georgia. This nonprofit organization assists individuals of all ages who have all types of disabilities and helps them reach their goals of living independently. They serve 15 counties, and the majority of the staff are people with disabilities. In her role as assistant director, Holtzclaw meets one-on-one with consumers in the community, collaborates with the office nursing home coordinator and other staff, works on the budget and finances, meets with the board of directors, and whatever else needs to be done. The core services of the Center are independent living skills training, information & referral, peer mentoring, self-advocacy, and transition


Traveling an Unfamiliar Route and Taking a Risk as a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Suppose you’ve graduated your orientation and mobility lessons and you’ve successfully mastered a handful of routes. You can get from home to work and back, to Starbucks and back (because let’s face it, this route is perhaps the most vital), to the gym and back, and to the grocery store and back. You and the cane have found your rhythm; shorelining, well, it’s practically a breeze; and bus travel now only gives you a smidge of anxiety. You’ve made great strides. But now the guys at the office invite you to a new restaurant in town. You’re determined to get there independently. Are you up for the challenge? With the collection of orientation and mobility tools and skills under your beltbut please, if you haven’t received proper training in travel skills for those who


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 similaritiesone 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


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


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


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,


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 skillthat 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


Deteriorating Eyesight and an Increasingly Difficult Workload to Manage

Demoralizing, frustrating, and intimidatingthree feelings common to individuals who are losing eyesight and who are recognizing their workload is becoming increasingly difficult to execute independently. If this describes you, you may feel all alone and hopeless. First, you are not alonetake a peek at the facts and figures of adults with vision loss. Second, there is hopelet’s examine how you can acquire skills in independent living, assistive technology, travel, and employment, enabling you to live a satisfying life at home and in the office. Relearning Independence In effort to acquire adaptive skills: Utilize


Paying It Forward as a Visually Impaired Mentor

Have you heard this before? You can’t change the world, but you can change one person at a time! As I reflect on my challenges and accomplishments as a person who is blind, two visually impaired people come to mind. They helped me understand what is possible, and their advice changed my outlook about living with vision loss and starting a career. My First Mentor The first one, I’ll call him Darren, was someone I had never encountered previously. My father learned about him through a newspaper article and thought I should read it too. It featured a story about Darren. It highlighted the fact that he was a blind business owner. He ran a karate studio and was


Maintaining Your Drive in the Face of Adversity

By now, you may know retinitis pigmentosa (RP) barged its way into my life during my college years. My CareerConnect blog posts have documented many of the challenges it created while pursuing goals, but I want to talk about maintaining the drive to reach them. Let’s be honest. No one anticipates losing their vision. It’s quite a surprise to be told blindness is inevitable. Shocking news of that sort can derail the best-laid career plans. My eye condition interrupted my drive to earn a


Adapting to Vision Loss

Over the last 20 years, my eyesight has transitioned from low vision to blindness. Of course, it hasn’t been easy. The emotional effects of vision loss wore me down more than anything else. While there is hope and help, I’ve got one word for you, Adapt. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect you to adapt to vision loss by simply snapping your fingers. I know, first hand, it is a process. In some cases, like mine, it’s a long-term


Steering Your Way Around Office Politics as a Blind or Visually Impaired Employee

Among the numerous challenges of working in an office are the conflict and the tension created by office politics, but when two or more people work together, it’s inevitable. When we spend eight, nine, or 10 hours a day at the office, it starts to feel like we’ve got a second family there. Drama included. Of course, the drama leads to conflict and tension within the staff. Try as we may, sometimes it gets difficult to stay above the fray. I’ve worked for companies with 10,000 or more employees to companies with less than 20 employees, none of which were immune to office politics. Those places and the people I worked with taught me some valuable lessons about


Creating Customized Resumes That Stand Out for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Do you sit at your computer wondering how to customize your resume? Do you have a hard time figuring out what to take out or what to leave in? Psst! I’ve got a little secret for you. Use the job listing as your road map for your resume. A few years ago, I was really interested in a particular job listing. I sat down to type up the best resume possible. But, I got stuck. Of course, I considered a hasty response. I could have submitted a slightly outdated resume, but I thought better of it. The problem wasn’t how to


Negative Feedback: How to Handle It and How to Use It

Are you familiar with feedback yet? You know. When someone like a teacher or a manager tells you what she thinks about your performance or your progress. Sometimes it is called constructive criticism. Oh yes, now you remember. If you’re in the academic world, then feedback may be coming from a teacher, a professor, or an advisor. If you’re in the professional world, then feedback is coming from a manager, a


Workplace Note-Taking Skills for Blind and Visually Impaired Employees

No matter what line of work you choose, note-taking skills will be necessary. You will have to take notes for many reasons. Most often, it occurs when you attend a meeting like a staff meeting or a one-on-one meeting with your manager. Managers use these kinds of meetings to relay information, to assign tasks, or to obtain status updates about projects. You must be ready to take notes when you attend them. Naturally, vision loss challenges your note-taking skills in the workplace, but the simple act of doing it can help set you apart as a professional. So let’s talk about ways to develop this skill. Identify an Effective Note-Taking Method What is the easiest way for you to take notes,


The Right Way to Archive Career History

Last week, a friend encouraged me to submit my resume to a nonprofit organization. She told me its executive director began searching for a new grant writer. Years ago, I would have dreaded the burden of updating my resume, but I was ready for it last week. See, I used to think a resume was a dump for all of my work and educational experience. The more experience I had, the more pages I needed to capture it all. So, I turned in these four- to five-page resumes when I applied for jobs. Ten years ago, I picked up a helpful tip about archiving my career-related history. Credit for this tip goes to


New Article Subsides Your Apprehensions About Working Alongside an Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

You’re considering hiring an individual who is blind or visually impaired, or there’s a new hire who has a visual impairment at your workplace. You’re concerned and sweaty-palmedand that’s an understatement. We hear youyou’ve likely no familiarity with people who have vision lossand we are thankful that in lieu of allowing inexperience and hesitation to dictate your verdict, you are in search of knowledge. We’re here to educate you and address your reservations, which we’re confident will subside your apprehensions. Your Possible Concerns and the Article Addressing Them If you’re like most, the questions you have include: What is a visual impairment? How should I act around an individual with a visual


Considering the Pursuit of a Degree? New Article Addresses the Impact of College on Employment Rates and Earnings

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I recognize you have a weighty decision upon your shouldersdo you or do you not pursue a postsecondary education to include a vocational/trade school or traditional college? Perhaps you’re soon to complete high school and you have the work vs. additional school choice on the horizon. Or maybe you went straight to the workforce after high school and you wonder if now is the time for a degree. Regardless, as you are aware, the decision isn’t one size fits all and depends on your career goals. To help you make a wise decision, might I suggest an


Combating the Holiday Blues When You Have a Visual Impairment

It’s assumed the winter holidays are merry and bright and for many this is true; however, during particular years, the holidays can be a lonesome, unremarkable season. During especially rough seasons of life or after great loss, the holidays can be downright agonizing. And so, I ask us to look ahead and consider this holiday season. Is it likely to be bursting with laughter, music, festivities, and family memories in the making? Or is it likely to be one wrought with ache? If you are anticipating either a solitary or sorrowful holiday season, I think it’s wise to both acknowledge your emotions and to plan for a meaningful holiday season. Acknowledge Your Emotions Perhaps you’re feeling down because you’re living far from family, you recently


Workplace Holiday Parties: You’ll Need These Independent Living Skills as an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Successful employment and sound independent living skills unquestionably go hand in handif we’re dressed noticeably sharp for work, if we have reliable transportation to and from the office, and if we are consistently on time and prepared for work meetings, we are setting ourselves up for maintaining and advancing in our career. These are the more obvious independent living skills that are work-applicable; what about the independent living skills on display during the holiday season? Wouldn’t it be wise to identify and fine-tune them ahead of time, ensuring they are ready to be confidently utilized during a workplace holiday party,


Intentionally Networking This Holiday Season as One Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Decembera wildly busy month threatening to burst the seams of the calendar. Maybe you and your family members are involved in a handful of extracurricular activities and have been invited to celebrate the holidays with a number of individuals and organizationsnot only Christmas with your loved ones or Hanukkah with friends who might as well be family, but also a holiday party with your karate class, an invitation to be the plus-one for your significant other’s workplace celebration, and a New Year’s social with your friends and friends of friends. If you’re not quite sure if you’ll RSVP because you’re more comfortable staying home, you have a lot going on, or you’re exhausted at the mere mention of the month of December, I hear you; I also want to push you


Want to Enhance Your Professional Skills and Gain a Dash of Holiday Cheer? Volunteer!

I don’t know your specific storywhether you’re desperately seeking employment or eagerly seeking advancement in your career fieldbut I firmly believe this counsel applies to us all, regardless of current employment status. The majority of us will have extra time in our schedules come mid to late December, and I think it’s important to decide beforehand how this time will be spent. Of course, plan a few days of rest (self-care and stress management are imperative), visit family and friends (heed these holiday travel tips), and my


Vision Rehabilitation Services Available to Veterans Desiring to Re-Enter the Workforce

Veterans, we salute you and thank you for your service to our great country. You are here because you have lost all or a significant portion of your eyesight, and you recognize there is work to be done and skills to be gained before you will re-enter the workforce. We at CareerConnect want you to know what this road to rehabilitation can look like and what vision rehabilitation services you are entitled to receive. Emotionally Coping The first step of successful rehabilitation after


Turning a "Can’t" Into a "Can" As an Individual with Vision Loss

There have been many times in my life where I had to tell myself, Steve, you are your own worst enemy! Simply put, I made excuses for myself. Whether justified or not, I was my own worst enemy. I prevented myself from making timely progress. Timely is the operative word. No doubt, from time to time, I chose to say, I can’t, rather than, I can! Fear, anxiety, and despair crept into my mind, clouding what I knew was the right course of action for myself and my career. Early on, my skills for living with visual impairment were insufficient. I told myself I didn’t need any training. I had a lot of vision left, so no need for me to bother with basic skills, right?


Reducing Work-Related Stress for Blind and Visually Impaired Workers

I handled work-related stress poorly early on in my career. The mix of failing vision, ambition, and despair about my future created a hard to handle emotional state. After a bad first full-time job experience, I landed in a much better situation. Although it was better, it had its stresses too. Learning a new job, coping with vision loss, and pushing for perfection put a ton of pressure on me. I wasn’t prepared to handle all that stress. Frankly, I didn’t anticipate it becoming such a burden though. After a tough day at the office, I'd pour myself a drink and repeat that process one, two, or more times during the evening.


Striving for Financial Independence As a Blind or Visually Impaired Worker

Earning an income is the first step on the path to financial independence. But, earning income is dependent on securing employment. For those of us living with blindness or visual impairment, financial independence may feel out of reach. My vision began declining before I landed my first full-time job. Of course, it was a bummer. The uncertainty of the situation made my head spin a bit because I worried obtaining employment might elude me. Thereby, throwing my ability to earn income into chaos. Let me be honest. I had goals. Goals that depended on making money. I wanted to marry my girlfriend, buy a house, start investing for retirement, and start a


Meet Luis Narimatsu: Co-Director of Georgia Industries for the Blind

As National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) comes to a close, we wanted to share this story about Luis Narimatsu and his career success at Georgia Industries for the Blind. While Luis has climbed the career ladder, his journey isn't as easy as it seems. Originally from Panama, Luis started his career with the Department of Defense and later started his own business. He went to college and seemed to be on the path to success until everything came to a screeching halt. He was diagnosed with juvenile acute closed-angle glaucoma. Luis' vision deteriorated. He wasn't able to keep driving, and as a result, he


Setting the Table for Success: What Visually Impaired Job Seekers and Employers Can Do to Improve Disability Employment

Imagine you have just taken a seat for a job interview. Your skills and your training have led you to this moment. You’re confident. You’re ready for it. When the interviewer asked you which reasonable accommodations will be necessary for you to perform your job responsibilities, you confidently explain what you need, including a screen reader, like JAWS, to do your computer work. Then, instead of a long, uncomfortable pause, the interviewer says, Great. Our


Disability Mentoring Day 2017: Reasons Why Visually Impaired Job Seekers Benefit from Mentors

Each year, on the third Wednesday in October, we celebrate Disability Mentoring Day. A day to recognize and thank our AFB CareerConnect mentors who have dedicated their time and given their advice to encourage job seekers with vision loss. Mentors, you have provided us with guidance, support, and inspiration. You have made us realize that we too can find gainful employment by sharing your success stories. You've shared your first-hand experience in the workforce so that we can have a better understanding of


Meet John Carty: IBM Mainframe Programmer Who Is Visually Impaired

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we are happy to share another story of an employee with vision loss who is succeeding in the workplace. Today, we are sharing John Carty's story. John is a computer programmer who has learned to adapt quickly in an ever-changing industry. Read how John has managed to stay on top of his field for 20 years by asking all of the right questions. Meet John Carty, Visually Impaired Computer Programmer My name is John Carty, and my career as a computer programmer began when I graduated from El Centro College Computer Programmer Training for


Employment and the Pursuit of Happiness As an Individual with Vision Loss

If you are an American, no doubt, you have heard the phrase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For a large majority of Americans, I feel this is still a big part of our overarching aspirations. In many places around the globe, it is very likely people pursue those ideals too. But, perhaps called by different names. When disability enters the picture though, it is often accompanied by uncertainty and fear; the two exact emotions that haunted my mind following my graduation from


Meet Denna Lambert: Visually Impaired Disability Program and Project Manager at NASA

In March 2017, Denna Lambert was a presenter at the AFB Leadership Conference in Alexandria, VA. She was on a panel where she shared about her life and career at NASA. In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we wanted to continue the conversation and share more of her career success. Here’s her story. Denna Lambert Successfully Launches Her Career at NASA As a Visually Impaired Project Manager As Denna neared graduation, she began looking for a job with the help of her college's career services. Denna explained how she


White Cane Reflections

I had reached that point in my life where a decision needed to be made: to become a long white cane user or not. It was the summer of 2001. Six years since the doctor diagnosed my eye condition. As the time passed, my vision slowly worsened. My ability to walk safely and independently worsened too. I bumped shoulders with other people at the store. Walking dim hallways created anxiety for me. Basically, the growing blind spots in my field of vision were threatening my mobility and my independence. More importantly, I began working full-time, and I needed a safe, reliable way to get around. The only choices


Perseverance Pays Off: Finding Gainful Employment As a Physical Therapist with Vision Loss

It’s officially National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! A time to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and educate about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. To kick off our favorite month, we are sharing Trina Bassak’s story. Trina is a physical therapist and VisionAware peer advisor who has glaucoma. After a difficult job search, Trina landed a job with AIM Home Health and quickly learned how to adapt her 27 years of experience into a new role as a home health physical therapist. Perseverance Pays Off: Finding Gainful Employment As a Physical Therapist By Trina Bassak <img


Job Seekers with Vision Loss Should Have No Limits to Employment Opportunities

When searching for a new job, you might wish you had a magical list of all the jobs that people who are blind or visually impaired can do. Wouldn't that be handy? But, in reality, do we really want to be limited to a specific list of employment opportunities because of a visual impairment? Job seekers with vision loss should have no limits when it comes to employment options. Your career path should be completely up to you, your interests, your abilities, your aptitudes, and your academic achievements. People with visual impairments are


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


Pounding the Rock for Blind and Visually Impaired Job Seekers

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet, at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. Jacob Riis (1849-1914) This quote is displayed in the San Antonio Spurs dressing room. Down here in South Texas, the head coach, Gregg Popovich, is known for his pounding the rock mindset and culture he created in the Spurs locker room. It is not Popovich’s quote though. It comes from a book he read during the 1990s. The quote belongs to Jacob Riis, a staunch proponent of immigration rights and decent living conditions in New York during the late 1800s.


Three Traits That Make Blind and Visually Impaired Job Seekers Stand Out

I am amazed whenever I hear stories about fellow, blind and visually impaired individuals who are unstoppable. Personally, I know a few of them, and their accomplishments take my breath away. Let me be more specific: it is their positivity, their work ethic, and their grit that I admire. Those traits seem to be drivers of success. By no means am I saying those are the only meaningful ones, but, in my opinion, blind and visually impaired job seekers with those traits can turn into valuable assets for any organization. Just think for moment. Those of us who are blind or visually impaired learn a killer set of skills. In the course of developing those skills, our mindset develops as well. Where am I going with this? If you are a hiring


A Career Highlight Worth Sharing on the Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary

I touched upon this noteworthy job experience in a previous post, but, in celebration of the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I felt it deserved a deeper dive. Why? Because it is my favorite job experience where the ADA is concerned. Let me elaborate. The Job Search It started with a simple job search. Believe it or not, I found the job in the want ads of a newspaper. Yeah, a


Power Up Your Request for Reasonable Accommodations

My time in the workplace has spanned nearly 25 years. During that time, I have used low tech and high tech equipment to do my job. These items have comprised my arsenal of assistive technology in the office. Some of these items include: Video magnifiers, Screen magnification software, Screen


Struggling to Disclose a Visual Impairment

Lessons Learned from Experience Let me start by saying I feel it is important to disclose a visual impairment during the hiring process. Especially, if a visual impairment is known and if a reasonable accommodation will be needed. That opinion comes from trial and error in my own experiences. I know the inner struggle very well though. I wanted to earn the jobs on my own merit and my own abilities. I did all I could to avoid my visual impairment from being interpreted as a weakness by others. Shortly, I will share with you four times I was in this situation. As I recollect, I was


My Evolving Perspective and Understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Twenty-seven years ago, a historic piece of legislation was on the verge of becoming law in the United States. For millions of Americans, it was a moment which had taken years to finally arrive. Little did I know that this legislation would one day be significant to me. Yes, you guessed it. The legislation I speak of is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It was the summer before I began my


Summer Work As a Digital Nomad? Could This Be a Suitable Opportunity for You

Are you looking for summer work? Are your computer skills the envy of the dorm? Do you have work or volunteer experience on your resume? If you have not landed a summer job yet, it is not too late. So check this out. First, let me say I had never heard the phrase, "digital nomad" until a few days ago. USA Today published an article called, "5 Summer Jobs You Can Take with You to the Beach." I like the beach. Just returned from one a week ago, so it caught my attention. Have you heard of this before? Digital nomads are defined as "people who work from wherever they want, whenever they want, and for


Advancing Your Career Depends on Your Next Step

Life is filled with accomplishments and setbacks. I have had my fair share of both. How about you? Many of you may still be basking in the glow of graduation from either high school or college. Excellent accomplishments indeed! Some of you may be disappointed due to some academic issues that have delayed your graduation a bit. Those of you in the workforce now may be experiencing your own accomplishments and setbacks too. Perhaps you were recently promoted to a new position on the job. In contrast, some of you may have felt the sting of being passed over for a job position. Career advancement


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


Finding Career Opportunities in the Nonprofit Sector As an Employee with Vision Loss

The nonprofit sector of the United States economy is incredibly robust. It contributes about one trillion dollars to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It employs about 10 percent of the population as well. Nonprofits need people power as much, if not more than, the for-profit sector. Typically, nonprofit organizations are governed by a board of directors. The nonprofit’s bylaws spell out what committees will function as a part of the board’s work. Usually, board and non-board members volunteer for these committees. I believe nonprofit committee participation is an excellent option for career advancement if


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


Avoid a Rough Transition to Work As a Job Seeker Who Is Visually Impaired

AFB CareerConnect’s Resources Pave the Way Well, here we are in the graduation season. Congratulations to you if you are celebrating at this time of the year. Many of you are transitioning from high school or college to work this summer. For those of you who have not landed a job yet, hang in there, be sure to use CareerConnect resources for conducting your job search. I have a personal story to share about my first career endeavor. It is a cautionary tale. But, learn from my experience and plan accordingly. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=7685" alt="Older man and young man shaking hands while


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


Are You Ready to Make a First Impression?

A long time ago a coach told me, “You only get one chance to make a first impression!” At the time, I believed the phrase applied only to athletics. However, as my eyesight declined, I discovered it applied to every aspect of life, especially where my career and my business opportunities were concerned. Making a first impression can be challenging for anyone. Yes, blindness or visual impairment compounds the issue, but we can control many of the factors which lead to a great first impression. Preparation is the key. Get ready before you step foot into a job fair, a networking event, or even a sales presentation. Use these tips to


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


Taking a Dog Guide to Work As an Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Are you living with vision loss? Interested in starting, extending, or restarting your career? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a dog guide to work? Two different guide dogs have been a part of my life over the last 10 years. Naturally, working in an office setting forced me to make some adjustments to my personal routine. When the changes became good habits, taking a guide dog to work became easier. As you create your


Turn Fear into Action, Part 2: My Story of Losing a Job and Changing Careers

In the first post of Turn Fear into Action, I wrote about a possible scenario where job security evoked fear and how to handle it proactively. This time I will share a personal story of turning fear into action. Can you pinpoint the elements from part one in this story? My Story of Turning Fear into Action In early 2008, one of my biggest customers sent word to me that they would be ending a sales and service contract by the end of the year. This customer accounted for 60 to 70 percent of my self-employment income. A significant chunk of revenue. From the moment I heard the news, my stomach began turning, and my head


Turn Fear into Action, Part 1: Dealing with Job Insecurity As a Visually Impaired Employee

A Primer for Overcoming Fear The power of fear is a well documented emotion. Scientists and researchers have studied its effects on our bodies and minds for decades. Every one of us will experience it during our lifetime in one way or another. How about handling fear at work? Numerous examples of fear-causing events exist in the workplace. None more fearful than a threat to your job security. Let us start with an example of how to turn fear into action in the workplace as an employee who is blind or visually impaired. Scenario: Fear for Your Job Security You fear for your job security because


Preparing for Home Based Work As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Millions of Americans enjoy the comfort and convenience of working from home. Specifically, those who are self-employed, and those employees who work remotely for a company. Maybe you are one of them. Self-employment has been my primary income generating activity for the last 15 years. Working from a home office has been a cost effective, convenient option for me too. Plus, no long commutes, no walks in bad weather, and no stress about packing lunch.


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.


Developing the Confidence to Succeed in the Workforce As a Person Who Is Visually Impaired

Editor's Note: Today's blog post is by Steve Cardenas. Steve has a combined 22 years of corporate, small business, and nonprofit experience. His personal mission is to help blind and visually impaired individuals unlock their potential and attain employment and career advancement. Developing the Confidence to Succeed in the Workforce By Steve Cardenas Do you feel frustrated about entering the workforce? Do you talk yourself out of pursuing job opportunities? Do you feel like your skills and accomplishments are inadequate? I confess. I answered “yes” to those questions a few times during the last 20 years of living with retinitis pigmentosa. I am guessing, because you are a CareerConnect reader, you know


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


Free Instructional Resources for Preparing Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired for Summer Work

Summer, we’re coming for you! As we anticipate summertime as the beloved sunshine and vacation time, let us also anticipate summertime as the perfect time for our teen clients who are blind and visually impaired to attain work experiences. Whether you are a teacher for students with visual impairments working in the school system and you have but three months left with your teens before summer break begins, or you are a transition specialist who is now gearing up for a summer program, my hope is you can utilize one or more of these lesson series to prepare your clients for successful summer volunteer or paid work. Resources


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


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding Telecommuting As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

The idea sounds pretty heavenly, doesn’t it? Working from the comfort of your own home without the hassle of commuting with a visual impairment. Yes, just about everybody likes the idea of it! While I can see the appeal and I do think telecommuting is a solution for transportation issues for folks who are blind or visually impaired, I do not think it’s the solution for all work-related issues for our population. Regardless, it may be a good fit for you or it may be worth considering for a


AFB CareerConnect Message Boards: Why and How to Use Them

As an individual with a visual impairment who is seeking employment, successfully maintaining employment, or ascending the career ladder, you’re no stranger to confronting workplace barriers. The good news is you don’t have to navigate the barriers independently, you can learn from others. It’s true. AFB CareerConnect created a space to support and connect with other professionals with visual impairments. Here’s the space: AFB CareerConnect message boards. Why the Message Boards Are Useful Bring your questions and concerns. Perhaps the topics include


Returning to Work After a Traumatic Brain Injury (and Subsequent Cortical Visual Impairment)

Whether you are an individual who is healing from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a family member of a person with a TBI and related brain-based visual impairment, or a service provider, you are here needing direction. You, your loved one, or your consumer is planning to return to work, though currently unable to perform all former job functions. I have put together a rough plan of action to assist in preparing for a successful return to work: Physical healing is obviously of utmost importance. The recovery process may take years; follow the physician’s recommendations for rest and time away from work. Coping with


Ms. Fairchild Asks, “Is Braille Relevant in the 21st Century Workplace?”

Is braille relevant in the 21st century workplace? It’s the million-dollar question in our sphere, isn’t it? Adults want to know, “Can’t we get by without it? It seems so daunting to learn.” Teachers of students with visual impairments and vision rehabilitation counselors want to know, “Can’t we teach magnification? There isn’t enough time to teach braille to all the students or clients with low vision.” I hear you. There is truth to these points of view. But take it from Ms. Fairchild, who grew up with low vision and made increased print size and magnification work, that is, until she realized it didn’t work well. A lack of braille, the


Two Blind Brothers: A Company Seeking a Cure for Blindness in Children and Adults

Bryan and Bradford Manning are designing a new business model to cure blindness, and it comes in the form of designer clothing. Their brand, Two Blind Brothers, is on a mission to donate one million dollars to life-changing research one t-shirt at a time. With each article of clothing sold, they are closer to finding a cure for blind children and adults around the world, and in the meantime, they are giving us something that feels as good as it looks. Meet Bryan and Bradford Manning Bryan and Bradford Manning, the co-founders of Two Blind Brothers, were diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease when they were kids.


What Jobs Can People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Have?

It’s a question I hear regularly. “What jobs can people who are blind have?” If you’re asking this, perhaps you are futures planning as you recently received a diagnosis of a visual impairment, and you’re increasingly needing assistance at your job; your spouse is losing his or her vision and is afraid of losing a job; your


Blind Ambition Author and Champion Paratriathlete Shared Leadership Principles at the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference

When keynote speaker Patricia Walsh took the stage at the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference (AFBLC), it seemed all were fully engaged and unquestionably riveted. This year’s conference had a record number of attendees, and I’m confident I’ve never heard any AFBLC audience as quiet as when Walsh shared her anything-but-dull Paralympic adventures of epic proportion. I have the mental image of Patricia laying on top of her bike in the back seat of a mini SUV [rear hatch open, mind you!] with her running guide [yes, she is totally blind] speeding to the triathlon. You see, her bags, which held her uniform and disassembled bike, had been lost by the airline, and Patricia and her guide, wearing makeshift, piecemeal “uniforms” which were almost prepped with


Your Power Outfit—Why It’s Important and How to Assemble It As Someone with Vision Loss

You enter the office, first day on the job; the big meeting, your nerves accompanying; the interview, for the long-awaited position; or you enter a routine day at the office. Are you picturing yourself? Good. What was your outfit of choice? I’m hoping it was one that makes you feel assertive, self-assured, and distinguished because what a difference an outfit makes. Wrinkled clothes? You may feel a bit self-conscious. Clothes too tight? You may feel stiff. Uncomfortable shoes? You may feel preoccupied. Clothes too casual? You may feel sloppy. Self-conscious, stiff, preoccupied, and sloppy? No thanks.


An AFB AccessWorld Article the Job Seeker Won’t Want to Miss!

Job seeker who is blind or visually impaired, what questions or concerns are all-too-familiar as they relentlessly trouble your mind? I want to know, so I can address your concern, direct you to an expert on the topic, or provide you with a helpful resource. I recently read an AFB AccessWorld article and immediately knew it needed to reach your hands. I think it will address many of the concerns you have as you embark on your job search. Perhaps you are unsure of the following: Where can I find articles aimed to prepare a visually impaired person for the employment process? What online or correspondence courses are available to prepare me


Smart Questions to Ask at Your Next Job Interview

I’ve heard it said many times, “When the interview panel asks if you have any questions, make sure to ask something!” This advice is important and helpful, but it begs the questions: What information do you actually want to know? [Think: What will help you recognize if this is in fact a company you want to work for?] What questions are appropriate to ask? [Think: Don’t jump to vacation time and salary questions; they can be negotiated later.] What questions let the team know you’d be a good employee? [Think: Let the questions reveal your values.] These aren’t easy questions, but


Self-Awareness Is Essential to Career Success As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

If career success is likened to a well-built building, thorough self-awareness is the foundation. In engineering, it should be noted, the taller the architectural structure, the deeper the required foundation. So, how prepared for a well-built career are we? To thrive and progress in our careers, we’ll need a careful understanding of: Our strengths and how to leverage them on the job Our limitations and how to work around them on the job including job


Meet Will Ursprung: Visually Impaired Collage Artist

Have you ever wondered how someone who is blind or visually impaired could find success as a working artist? Are there really accommodations out there that can turn this visual field into a realistic employment option for someone without sight? The answer is "Yes". Meet Will Ursprung. Will is one of our many visually impaired artists who have found employment success. He works with different pieces to create something new and intriguing. Read his process as a


Sprint Is Committed to the Blind and Visually Impaired Community

“We want to be the best wireless provider for those with visual impairments; We want blind and visually impaired consumers, and we want to support them at every level,” stated definitely by Kelly Egan, Sprint’s customer relations manager for the blind and low vision community. I recently spoke with Ms. Egan, who enthusiastically expressed Sprint’s commitment to building a relationship with the blind and low vision community. And it’s not just talk. Sprint hired a team of five contractors with visual impairments to work with Ms. Egan, who is also blind, as members of its growing accessibility team. The team includes individuals with a variety of


Maintaining Employment As a Person with a Visual Impairment

We recently discussed landing a first job as a person who is visually impaired. We reviewed what it takes, from sound blindness-specific compensatory skills to sufficient interview preparation, and I mentioned we would continue the conversation to discuss what it takes to maintain employment as a person who is blind or visually


It’s Valentine’s Day and You’d Love to Secure a First Job

Happy Valentine’s, my friend. Maybe your mind is on your special date this evening or perhaps it’s on Singles Awareness Day (It’s legit, look it up!). Regardless, allow me to turn our attention from that ever-so-cute and chubby cupid to that ever-so-overwhelming and important job hunt. Take heart, folks who are blind or visually impaired can be successfully employed. Case in point—browse AFB CareerConnect’s success stories and note the variety of jobs held by people with visual impairments. Yes, it’s possible for people with visual impairments to


Pre-Employment Lesson Plans for Consumers with Multiple Disabilities

We previously discussed occasionally wishing we had a lifeline (in “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” terms) when it comes to teaching our students who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities. We want to ensure we’re not overlooking important skill sets, we wonder what practical skills are imperative for students with multiple disabilities succeeding in the workplace, or we’re new teachers and want a starting place. As a lifeline, I offered pre-employment skills and activities for consumers with multiple disabilities. Today, I’d like to bring


Pre-Employment Skills and Activities for Consumers with Multiple Disabilities

Throughout my years as a transition specialist in Tallahassee, Florida, I remember introducing myself to a number of incoming students with multiple disabilities, getting to know them, assessing their pre-employment readiness skills, and working with teams to establish individualized career-related goals. Often the process was straightforward. Other times I wished there was (as “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” hosts would say) a lifeline. Call a friend, poll the audience, anything. Teachers of students with visual impairments, VR counselors, and transition specialists, if you too need an occasional lifeline, may this be the starting place. Here


Common Job Accommodation Questions and Their Answers for Employees with Visual Impairments and Their Employers

Whether you are a job seeker or new employee who is blind or visually impaired or an employer who is considering hiring a person with a visual impairment, I know job accommodations are a significant concern. You want to ensure equipment, workspaces, and processes are accessible; you want an efficient workflow, and you want to minimize the cost of assistive technology and adaptations. To ease your mind and put you on the right track for accommodating accessibility issues, review this list of common job accommodations questions and their answers: Job


Meet Jasmyn Polite: An Aspiring Teacher Living with Glaucoma

Born with bilateral cataracts and diagnosed with glaucoma as a child, Jasmyn Polite has faced her fair share of adversity, but she hasn't let a visual impairment stop her from working toward her dream of being a teacher. Jasmyn has created an educational plan, found volunteer and work experience, and connected with a mentor to help further develop her skills. She is well on her way to accomplishing her goals. Aside from teaching, Jasmyn is also interested in becoming an artist and published author. This 22-year-old has big ambitions.


How to Quit Your Job the Right Way

So, you’re waving farewell to your job? I hope you’re coveting the idea of resigning because you’ve learned a great deal on the job and you have your eyes set on a more challenging position. You’re ready to advance your career; in fact, leaving your job behind is one step toward pushing your limits and taking a measured risk. I realize that may not be the case. Maybe you’re finished because you


How Can LinkedIn Benefit the Visually Impaired Job Seeker?

Perhaps you are a blind or visually impaired job seeker and you’re ready to create a LinkedIn account or you have a LinkedIn account with an underdeveloped profile and connections. First, you’re going to want to know how to utilize LinkedIn as a person who is blind or visually impaired. Yes, LinkedIn and its general features are accessible! Second, you’ll want to read AFB’s reprinted article


Is Braille Useful on the Job?

The year is 2017… and wow, our third-grade selves would be shocked to see those digits. Speaking of digits, it seems the world has gone digital. Text messaging is preferred over post-it notes. LinkedIn is the networking tool of choice. Auto draft is the way to bill-pay. Fly to San Francisco for a job interview? Not necessary. There’s a video conference call for that. You get the picture. So, in this information and technology age, is print outdated and irrelevant? No way! I still jot notes, read books and magazines, create labels, use maps, and more. Same goes for the usefulness of


Who Can Assist Me with Developing a Resume?

I wonder how many job seekers feel similarly to my good friend, Jaci, a military veteran who paused from the workforce for several years as she reared her young children. Today, while working part-time in their school, she is finishing her degree in Human Resources and looking forward to jumping back into a full-time career. Needless to say, she has concerns with her resume. How can she explain her gap in employment? How can she generalize all the knowledge and skills she acquired in the


Visually Impaired Adults, Let's Talk Braille with Parents of Visually Impaired Children

You likely know January 4th is World Braille Day, as it is the late Louis Braille’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Mr. Braille. We think you’re pretty great.) For the past several World Braille Days, I have written to parents of blind or visually impaired children via the FamilyConnect Blog in hopes of educating them (particularly parents of blind babies who are recently immersed in our community) on braille and its value to folks who are blind or visually impaired. I talk about the


A Practical New Year’s Goal: Making the Most of Your Commute to Work As a Visually Impaired Person

Many would say the most significant inconvenience for workers with visual impairments is limited transportation. Yes, it would certainly be easier if you could simply drive yourself to and from work. I’m sorry this isn’t an option…I hate that it’s not. Perhaps self-driving cars will be a safe, yet expensive, possibility of the future. For today, the reality is walking, carpooling, or public transportation. If you live close enough to work that you can walk, what a time-saving option! Many envy you, I’m sure. If you catch a ride with your spouse, parent, friend, or coworker, you have the opportunity to


Roll the Final Credits: Recap of CareerConnect's Employment Advice Adapted from Film for Job Seekers with Vision Loss

We've come to the end of our movie lineup. We hope you've enjoyed CareerConnect at the Movies, the perfect mix of holiday films and career-related advice. Did you get a chance to check out each of our December features? Here is a recap of our employment-related tips and tricks learned from popular holiday movies. Now Showing on the CareerConnect Blog Theatre 1:


Don't Be Left Home Alone, Develop Winter-Weather Orientation and Mobility Skills

Northerners with recent vision loss, southerners with upcoming vacations in winter wonderland, and curious Floridians want to know, “How do you O&M in the snow?!” You’re likely quite nervous about getting around in upcoming frosty, or worse, icy, conditions. Don’t let the snow keep you cooped up or completely dependent on sighted help… It’s time to acquire winter Orientation and Mobility (O&M) skills! So, experts, what tips, tricks, and guidance do you have for those who are planning to travel in the frigid air, snow, and/or ice? My research (much of which is found on


When You Need a [National Lampoon's] Christmas Vacation!

It’s the end of the year—how are you holding up? Me? I am struggling to keep my eyelids open! Adding a brand new pup (Goldendoodle) to my regular workload and family responsibilities has proven to be tiring [ahem, absolutely exhausting] task. Thankfully respite is drawing near…a holiday break! I’ll be using it to enjoy my immediate family and rest; how about you? In the event you’re venturing to visit family or explore a new area on vacation, here are some things you may want to consider as a traveler with a visual impairment: Tips for Easy Holiday Travel Read up on the airport layout


Social Media Is Not a [Bridget Jones's] Diary! Instead, Use It As a Career Asset

Listen, social media can easily be an asset to your job search and career, but it can just as easily be an enormous liability. You must use it smartly. There’s a place for rants and airing grievances. There’s a place for embarrassing holiday-party pictures. There’s [perhaps] a place for announcing you went to the gym…again. Let’s just say, for job seekers and career-minded folks, it isn’t on social media! Instead, consider how you can use social media to positively impact your job search and


Rudolph's Lessons in Rejection: How to Persevere As an Individual with a Visual Impairment

Dear discouraged job seeker, I see you. You want and need a job, but it feels like no employer is looking your way. You’re starting to think you either aren’t cut out for the working world, other applicants are far more qualified, hiring personnel aren’t interested in you because of your visual impairment, or there are simply no good, available jobs in your field. Whichever describes your situation or fear, it is not a barrier you can’t overcome. Here’s what I mean: If you presume the problem lies with you not being cut out for the working world, it’s time to


The [Polar] Express to Workplace Success

So, you’re looking for the fastest track to job success? Maybe you are gathering information to excel in future work, you have your sights set on leadership opportunities, or you simply want to perform well to benefit your organization’s team. Either way, you want on board; you like where this train heads. Don’t we all! Only problem is we don’t always analyze what we can do to get on board. Let’s do just that. I assure that I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll bet if I share my suggestions and you share yours, we’ll all be much wiser and more prepared to succeed in the workplace. You must continuously focus on


Are You "Home for the Holidays"? Read These Success Stories of Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Take advantage of this season’s respite from school and work, and dare to dive into career exploration. Reflect on your interests, values, and skill sets; recognize there is hardly a “perfect job”, but there are jobs that work with your natural proficiencies and that allow you to polish skills you enjoy polishing. Next, peruse these 15 jobs and ask yourself if any of your interests, values, and skill sets align. If so, click on the job title to read a success story or interview of an individual who is blind or visually impaired working in the field. Without further ado:


It's a Wonderful Job Interview: Tips for Job Seekers with Visual Impairments

Job seekers, I hope this season you are not only enjoying the magic of the holidays (including watching the classic It’s a Wonderful Life!), but you are also networking, applying for a handful of jobs, and prepping for future job interviews. When it comes to job interview preparation, my hope is that you consider how to make every moment of the interview count to your advantage. From the confidence and friendliness you exude upon entering the room, to the way you engage the group, to the crafting of your responses, each second can indeed allow you to shine.


CareerConnect at the Movies: Employment Advice Adapted from Film for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If you're looking for the perfect mix of holiday festivities and practical career-related advice, you've come to the right place. Over the years, we have celebrated the holiday season by providing you with the job search advice and career resource skills you need to land your next job. And this year is no different! From the creators that brought you The Twelve Days of CareerConnect and


Questions to Ask a Mentor Who Is Also Blind or Visually Impaired

If you could sit down for an hour with any individual who is blind or visually impaired and successfully employed, to ask any career-related mentor advice…I wonder who you’d choose to glean from, and I wonder what questions you would ask. Topics may include his/her education, ongoing training, challenges, skill sets, accommodations, mentorship, transportation, the hiring process, networking, setbacks, disappointments, goals, and both positive and negative experiences. I suppose if I could sit down with an individual who is blind for mentor advice, I would engage one of the


I Want Your Input: What Challenges to Career Advancement Do Employees with Visual Impairments Encounter?

Imagine we’re all at a vintage style diner, enjoying lunch and a conversation about folks who are blind or visually impaired in the workforce. [You wouldn’t be here, reading, if this wasn’t an important matter to you.] Heads turn toward you, mine included, and you answer the question, What challenges do young employees with visual impairments encounter in maintaining jobs and advancing in careers? What is your response? Please take a minute to write in the comment section. The greater the number of responses, the more complete picture we’ll have of issues that face our population. I am eager to hear from


When You Just Don't Know the Right Career for You (As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired)

You grow up thinking you will be instinctively drawn to a certain profession, and therefore your path to employment will be relatively straightforward… as if the map to a career is a straight line. Listen, that’s just not the case for the vast majority of people, with or without visual impairments. Finding the right career usually takes testing the waters in a variety of career fields; accumulating a plethora of job skills in volunteer work,


The 411 on Finding Job Leads As a Visually Impaired Job Seeker

Hello, job seeker. I see you’re ready to obtain your very first paid position or are ready to attain a subsequent, new job (whether in pursuit of career advancement or a career change). No matter, this can be an overwhelming task. Where do you turn when you know the type of job you’d like, but you’re unsure of the companies who are hiring and you’re unsure of the company who will best match with your skill sets?


Where Are They Now? Alexis Read's Forensic Science Adventure

Are you a fan of CSI or NCIS? Have you ever wondered how law enforcement determines whether a crime has been committed? Perhaps you have a taste for forensic science! If so, you are not alone. Remember CareerConnect mentor, Alexis Read? A few years ago she shared her CSI Experience in her Our Stories article, Exploring Forensic Science As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired. Well, she's back at it again! Alexis recently


To Our Veterans Who Are Recently Coping with Vision Loss

Coping. Maybe that word elicits anger. After all, one two-syllable, calm-sounding word cannot convey the road you are on: the depth and complexity of your loss, weariness, disappointment, fear, resentment, and rage. Besides, Who can cope with vision loss? You ask yourself. Before I attempt to answer this question, thank you, veteran. I know, I know...if you’re like my husband (active duty USAF chaplain), you don’t even want the recognition. I’m giving it anyway. I am beyond thankful for your sacrifice, your dedication, and your willingness to serve us; to serve me. You are strong and brave and valiant. It’s a good thing you are too, because you’re going to need those characteristics to move forward and let yourself


Your Resource for Studying, Volunteering, or Interning Abroad with a Visual Impairment

The goal of The Clearinghouse is to empower people with disabilities to take advantage of the same international exchange opportunities as everyone else. Whether studying, volunteering, or interning abroad, they want to support people's goals for international exchange, navigating any disability barriers along the way. Read more about The Clearinghouse at MIUSA: Mobility International USA. That's right, if you are blind or visually impaired, you are eligible to receive free services and resources for pursuing international study or work programs from the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, a project sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. So, if your interest is


Do You Have the Qualities of a Good Employee?

Do you have the qualities of a good employee? Before you answer this question, you probably need to know what qualities employers value. The new checklist in the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide will help you self-evaluate the personal qualities you have that all employers look for in employees. Your teachers, family, and friends can also give you feedback on how they perceive you, but you must ask them to be honest to help you improve. It’s not


The Most Valuable Resource of a Leader Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Recently we acknowledged we already are leaders; leadership isn’t a position, but a quality. Leaders, remember, are ones who influence others. So dear leader who is blind or visually impaired, I thought we should discuss your most valuable resource on the job. Is it your assistive technology that enables you to work efficiently and at least as quickly as your sighted peers? Is it


Handling Bullying in School and the Workplace

Unfortunately bullying is an issue within most schools and some workplaces. Why? It seems human nature is wrought with self-consciousness, anger, envy, and pride. When these characteristics aren’t properly identified and skills aren’t learned to handle them appropriately, or when one has been emotionally beaten down for any number of reasons, it can become enticing to put others down in order to build oneself up. Hence, frustrated, wounded, angry, self-critical, or all-together emotionally immature individuals can seek the feeling of dominance found in bullying someone who they think will cower to their authority. Unfortunately, individuals with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers according to the


Meet Blessing Offor: Visually Impaired Contestant from NBC's "The Voice"

All month long we have been talking about National Disability Employment Awareness Month and how #InclusionWorks in the workplace. We’ve covered resources for finding a job, the use and importance of the white mobility cane, steps in the employment process, and what employers need to know about


Thank You, Mentor! Happy National Disability Mentoring Day

It’s National Disability Mentoring Day! Established by the American Association of People with Disabilities in 1999, this day of recognition and appreciation has become a year-round initiative. But today, we are especially excited to acknowledge the support, guidance, and advice our mentors provide. We are thankful for our AFB CareerConnect mentors who have dedicated their time and expertise to helping job seekers who are blind or visually impaired find gainful employment. Mentors, you have provided us with so much. You have offered us: Insight from your first-hand experience in the workforce Knowledge of workplace accommodations and assistive technology Advice during the disclosure process Clarification by answering our


First Steps in the Employment Process for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is the perfect time to jump start your path to gainful employment as a student who is blind or visually impaired. But how do you begin to take control and move toward your goal of having a job? Simple! The best way to learn something is to do it. Working while you're in school is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the workforce as an adult. It's hard to imagine that a part-time job after school, during the summer, or on weekends is so important for your future, but research tells us it is the single best predictor of being successfully employed once you finish school.


What You Need to Know About Hiring a Person with a Visual Impairment (#InclusionWorks)

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and as such, I want to speak to employers and highlight #InclusionWorks. Let’s assume you recently interviewed an individual who disclosed he is blind or visually impaired. His education and experience point to his know-how, but you’re (let’s be honest) very hesitant about hiring the individual. I hear your concernblindness and low vision are low incidence disabilities; hence you likely have no experience working with an individual with a visual impairment. You’re wondering: Can an individual who is blind complete the essential job functions? How


White Cane Safety Day Is October 15!

White Cane Safety Day, or White Cane Day, is this Saturday! It’s hard to believe we are already in the middle of October (and National Disability Employment Awareness Month). Before you know it, it will be Halloween and then the holiday season! Because I’ve been so busy lately, I thought the best way to celebrate this year’s White Cane Day would be to slow it down with a Throwback Thursday of my favorite posts about the famous white mobility cane.


Help Your Students Successfully Transition to Work During National Disability Employment Awareness Month

It's finally National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), CareerConnect's favorite time of the year! It's time to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and raise awareness about the value of a diverse, inclusive workforce. The successful employment of people with vision loss requires awareness on many fronts. Parents of children with low vision or blindness, you need to know that people who are blind work in a wide variety of careers and jobs in order to dream for and encourage your child to strive for all they can achieve. Teachers of


Resources You Haven't Thought of Before As a Visually Impaired Job Seeker, Part 3

Editor's note: This is part three of a blog post written in response to an article published in the Huffington Post by Marilyn O’Malley, Fifteen Amazing Job Resources You Haven’t Thought of Before. Read part two to learn how you can find a job by utilizing your personal experiences and available resources. Job Resources You Haven't Thought of


Resources You Haven't Thought of Before As a Visually Impaired Job Seeker, Part 2

Editor's note: This is part two of a three part blog post written in response to an article published in the Huffington Post by Marilyn O’Malley, Fifteen Amazing Job Resources You Haven’t Thought of Before. Read part one to learn about Neva's work experience in high school and discover the first valuable resource you might not have thought of for finding a job. Job Resources You Haven't Thought of Before by


Resources You Haven't Thought of Before As a Visually Impaired Job Seeker

Resources You Haven't Thought of Before An article by Marilyn O'Malley published on August 3 in The Huffington Post, Fifteen Amazing Job Resources You Haven’t Thought of Before, made me think back on how I found the jobs I’ve held throughout my six decades of life. You’re probably thinking, You had a job in your first decade of life? Yes, indeed. My parents believed in earning your keep and expected me to do everything a sighted kid could do. I washed dishes (long before there were dishwashers); set the table; emptied trash


Make No Mistake, Reduced Vision Is Not Equivalent to Reduced Quality of Life

You've heard it said, Where there's a will, there's a way. When it comes to life after vision loss, let it be heard 'round the world, I say, Where there's vision rehabilitation services and a will, there's a way. From a young child born with no eyesight to an older adult who is adjusting to blindness, there is life- quality life- on the other side of the door. The door being services which teach individuals with visual impairments to lead independent lives (more accurately


How to Stay Current in Best Practices As a Professional in the Field of Blindness

September marks the arrival of autumn—brilliant swaying leaves, invigorating crisp air, warm drinks soothing our chilled hands, and chunky cable-knit sweaters adorning us all. (That is, unless you live in Florida! Shout out to that great state I once called home.) Regardless, I think I speak for all when I say this change of season and accompanying weather is welcome. I’m reminded of our ever-changing field of blindness and visual impairments. As time progresses, our students/consumers become more diverse, as does the world into which they’re integrating. So, how do we become more knowledgeable on the unique needs of our recent clients (think: the rapidly growing population of individuals with brain-based visual impairments)? How do we keep up with today’s


"Go for the Gold" As a Visually Impaired Athlete: Paralympic Games 2016

Watching the Olympics always inspired me as a kid. Maybe, just maybe, I could be an Olympic athlete someday. With the advent of the Paralympics, that possibility is more attainable for a person with a disability today than ever before. Have you been following the Paralympics in Rio? The USA has won 49 medals, behind only China, Great Britain, and Ukraine. But, in what events could someone who is visually impaired hope to be competitive? You decide. Will it be a sport designed for blind players like Goal Ball, or will it be an equestrian event? Is swimming your passion? How about judo or


If Your Guide Dog Could Talk: Guide Dog Appreciation Month

If only we could write an eloquent thank-you to our service animals for Guide Dog Appreciation Month; let them know we appreciate their assistance and the freedom of independent travel the guide dogs enable. Maybe we’d discuss the smiles they put on our faces, the heaping confidence they provide, the instant-connections with others they facilitate, and the off-duty companionship we adore. If only… But if we did (and that’s a hearty if), I think this is the response your guide dog would provide. Quotes from Your Guide Dog You’re thanking me?! I should be thanking you. I see those neighborhood pets (and I didn’t fall


Those Who Labor Hard for the Betterment of Society, We Thank You and Wish You a Happy Labor Day

On this Labor Day, we celebrate those who turn the gears for America. Some of you work grueling, overnight shifts and others, tiring day shifts. Both imperative for our country to run. Some of you work in fast-past environments. Perhaps you work in the most critical, fast-paced environment: the hospital. I met you as you, quite literally, saved my daughter in the NICU. [How can I ever adequately thank you? I can’t, but I’ll live my life trying.] And others, slow-paced environments are your territory. Some of you work to cast visions, hire and train employees, and guide teams through trials and to success. I’ve


Meet Casey Harris, Visually Impaired Keyboardist for
X Ambassadors

by Neva Fairchild If you haven’t heard of the X Ambassadors, you are missing out. In the last couple of months, the indie rock band has had several hits including Renegades and Unsteady that have put them in the spotlight. But one member of the band has really caught our attention. Not only is Casey Harris the keyboardist for the X Ambassadors, but he is an ambassador for musicians conquering disability in the image-conscious world of alternative rock. Despite having to confront ignorance and prejudice in his early days, Casey has never refused to let visual impairment deny him a career in


When You Don't Feel Worthy of Employment (or Relationships for that Matter) As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Listen, this is a hard topic. I know it will not apply to all readers; many of you are already confident (or as I like to say, “ humbly-confident”). But it will apply to some; if it applies to you, it was worth every word. Don’t know if it applies to you? Take the three examples and see if any describes you. You don’t want to pursue training in Orientation and Mobility or


Re-Think Leadership, You Already Are a Leader

Can I have ten minutes of your time? First, listen to a six minute TedTalk entitled, "Everyday Leadership" and second, let's chat. In the talk, you'll hear Drew Dudley share his opinion on leadership. Here's a summary, which omits his engaging story and in no way encompasses his full scope of thoughts: Most people think leadership is currently outside of their reach and is something to one day step into, when in fact, they already are


Using a Hobby to Earn Supplemental Income

We once talked about the work-related benefits of hobbies for employees who are blind or visually impaired. Remember that video blog? I sure appreciated your blog comments; you discussed the hobbies you have pursued and how they have expounded your work skills and creativity. One of you ("dmolino21" to be precise) stated that you enjoy your artistic hobbies and you sometimes get paid for them. Impressive! Thank you for sharing and steering the conversation. We have you to thank for this blog (smile!). Whether you’re looking


Making a Remarkable First Impression As a Student Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I’m going to assume you’ve read AFB’s Cheat Sheet for Self-Advocating As a College Student Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired; if you haven’t, you’ll want to read it ASAP. The foundation of the abovementioned blog, as well as this blog, is: the responsibility of advocacy has now been passed to you. Congratulations are in order actually; your family and educational team of cheerleaders deem you ready to assert yourself and request/ decline


You're Heading Back to School (High School or College) and You Need a Dose of Confidence

Is it just me or does this summer hold the record as the shortest ever? Where. Did. It. Go?? Ah, no use focusing on the blink-of-an-eye speed of summer I suppose; let’s look ahead. Before stepping into the role of student for the last or nearly-last time, it occurs to me you may need a boost of confidence. A lot rides on your final year(s) of school, after all, and it


Let's Talk Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairments

Whether you’re 14 entering high school or 40 entering graduate school, I’m certain you have assistive technology on the brain. After all, a successful student who is blind or visually impaired will master methods to access written material, access electronic material, and produce text. This begs the question: What assistive technology do you utilize in the classroom? I know it would be helpful for others to read what works well for you across a variety of academic situations. Share your helpful resources and tools in the comments section. If you are in need of AT guidance, in addition to reading the comments


It's Open Mic Night: When Should You Jump Back into School for a Second or Advanced Degree

Truth be told, it’s always open mic night at the AFB CareerConnect blog. We encourage your input because we want discussion. We learn from each other; even, and maybe especially so when, we disagree. Maybe you read To Jump or Not to Jump Back into School As a Career Seeking Adult Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired and you felt irked. To recap, I stated, “There’s a chance additional schooling is not the answer [to your


#LearnedInTexas: Employment Advice Absorbed in Texas for Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

You may remember I blogged Employment Advice Learned in Japan about a year ago, days before moving from Japan to Texas. Well, one week ago my husband completed his year-long military training program in San Antonio and we moved to Delaware. [Any Delawareans reading this? Let me know!]. As I sit here in my hotel room in Delaware, my mind transports me to Texas, my home state. Vast land, many a cattle ranch, helpful people, big hair [not knocking it, I'm currently


Meet Belo Cipriani: Visually Impaired Author, Teacher, and Freelance Journalist

Beaten and robbed of his sight by childhood friends, Belo Cipriani was unexpectedly thrown into the world of blindness. He suddenly found himself learning how to walk, cook, and even date in the dark at age 26. But instead of letting vision loss defeat him, Belo has triumphed in his new world of contemporary blindness as an author, teacher, and freelance journalist. When Belo first lost his sight, he struggled to find stories similar to his for encouragement and advice. He suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD because of his attack, so his therapist suggested he journal to help him cope. And it worked! As a result, Belo released a book, Blindness:


Where Were You 26 Years Ago?

By Neva Fairchild It may be hard to remember where you were personally on July 26, 1990 and perhaps you weren’t even born yet, but to identify where people with disabilities were prior to the signing of the American’s with Disabilities Act is fairly easy to do. There were few protections for access to public services such as cabs, restaurants, or stores. Elevators didn’t have braille, apartment complexes


Americans with Disabilities Act: Why We're Thankful and Where There's Room for Improvement

Think about the last time, maybe as a child or teen, you fought against seemingly-monstrous ocean waves. You were pummeled backward by their overwhelming power; adrenaline pulsed through your veins; salt water threatened to choke you time and again. Yet you stood up, refused to relax on the shore, and determined to remain on course. This is the mental imagery I have of those involved in the disability rights movement; those who have fought tirelessly against the thrashing current of


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


Growing Your Career

Now that we are entering into the gardening season, I think of many analogies relating to employment. Just as one needs to cultivate and care for a garden, we all need to cultivate and build upon our own areas of career development. It is always good to reassess your career and/or career goals and to refocus. Some tasks relating to this may include cleaning up your resume, learning some new skills that will add to your value in the job market, and developing new job contacts. It is a good idea to review your resume periodically, looking for outdated entries, adding new skills or experiences you may have gained since your last


Unlocking the Potential of Your Social Network

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Barbara Corcoran's Recommendation for Finding a Mentor

Have you tuned into a Facebook Livestream? It's super cool. You can watch and/or listen to an individual speaking live from their home or office (or from the playground for that matter!) as you type comments or questions for the speaker. In addition to listening to American Idol winner Trent Harmon on Facebook Live because his voice is nothing short of spectacular, I recently listened to Kelsey Humphreys, a motivator on achieving success, interview real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran. If you watch Shark Tank, you know the assertive, sharp, and kind Ms. Corcoran. The


Home Safety Tips That Work at Work for Blind and Visually Impaired Employees

By Neva Fairchild The same principles for safety and ease of access that you employ at home can go with you into the workplace, and yet how many of us have really taken a look around the office with safety and efficiency in mind? Here are some work safety tips to get you started: If you have any usable vision, contrast, lighting, and other


Who's Responsible for Your Job Search When You're Blind or Visually Impaired

As a person who is blind or visually impaired… A transition team goes to bat for you while you're in high school. They aim to instill the skills you need for future success as an adult. A Vocational Rehabilitation counselor may further train you and assist with purchasing


To Jump or Not to Jump Back into School As a Career Seeking Adult Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Say you’re one of the many individuals who are blind or visually impaired who have attended a university for an undergraduate degree and who are having a difficult time achieving employment, landing a dream job, or keeping a decent job. While you have the minimum school requirements to enter your career field of interest, you may think the missing link to career success is additional schooling. It’s easy to convince ourselves a second Bachelor’s degree would provide the knowledge needed to obtain employment. It’s easy to convince ourselves a Master’s degree would provide the credibility and authority needed to promote. It’s easy


Hey Teens, Let's Talk Summer Jobs

Want to earn cash this summer, prepare for adulthood, and be part of a team? Yes, you say? Then it's time to look for summer work. To start, consider the needs in your neck of the woods. My high school years were spent in Orlando; additional summer employees (including myself) were hired in restaurants and theme parks. The same is true in coastal cities and other summer-vacation destinations I'm sure. If you live where farmland abounds, I'll bet your town has unique work that needs to be done by willing, hard-working folks like yourself. Career Choices has an


10 Resources for Transitioning from High School to College or Work As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

How are you feeling about your upcoming transition from high school? Can college “not come soon enough” or are you hoping time will slow down because you appreciate the support of home life and you don’t want to say goodbye to your local friends? Maybe you’re feeling a little of both, and that’s normal too. While your time in school will forever be full of memories and nostalgia, your future is just as exciting and worth preparing for. Let me help with that. Check out these 10 resources from CareerConnect to get you ready for tomorrow: Peruse our


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

May is National Photography Month (whatever that means!). I’ve mentioned I’m a photographer hobbyist, but have I mentioned I also capture memories in my journal? More than giving me creative outlets, photography and journaling give me opportunities to record moments and re-live them each time I flip through my images or journals. Take for instance the photo in this blog; it’s my younger daughter walking through the woods last year when we lived in Japan. I remember the exploring we did that day; the frigid air we endured, the fingernail-sized red insects we watched, and the fenced-in ponies we were surprised to come across. Another good memory I


Red Lobster’s CEO Talks to CareerConnect Readers About Leadership and Career Success

AFB CareerConnect's focus as of late has been on career advancement for those who are blind or visually impaired. We prepared a free eLearning course entitled Maintaining Employment and Advancing Your Career and offered several supplementary blog posts such as, It's Spring, Let's Focus on Growth. [Your Career Advancement, That Is.]


Where Are They Now? Visually Impaired Nurse and Blogger, Audrey Demmitt

If you are a frequent follower of AFB blogs, you probably have heard of Audrey Demmitt, VisionAware peer advisor and blogger extraordinaire. But did you know that Audrey worked as a nurse for 30 years before she became a writer? Better yet, did you know that Audrey is also a mentor of AFB CareerConnect? In honor of the upcoming National Nurses Week, we decided to take some time this month to learn more about Audrey to see how she is inspiring others through her continued workplace and personal success. Check out this preview of


Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part One

Are you interested in pursuing a career in healthcare? Pursuing your dream job can be an arduous process, but it is one that can really pay off in the end. But what if you are visually impaired? Or what if you develop vision loss during your pursuit? No matter your visual impairment, you have to believe in yourself. With enough hard work and motivation, you can achieve your goals. Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities by Detra Bannister For some odd reason when I was growing up I never thought about nurses or doctors being sick or having disabilities. I guess their association with treating the sick and


The Link Between Effective Orientation and Mobility Skills and Gainful Employment for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired (And What To Do with the Knowledge)

I'm certain I won't be alone in my excitement of Jennifer L. Cmar's research findings. Listen to this: “Results [of her research]: Youths with high community travel scores were significantly more likely to be employed...up to six years post–high school." This is good information (and that’s the understatement of the year). What can we do with this knowledge? Here’s what: Young adults who are blind or visually impaired: Be motivated! Not only do you gain independence (and general “he’s/she’s awesome points”) from traveling in your community all by your lonesome (and when accompanying a


You Are Employed, Now It’s Time for a Financial Plan

I hope I’m catching you while you’re young. Maybe you’re fresh out of school and ready to work. Maybe you just landed a job and you’re, for the first time, faced with the excitement and responsibility of a paycheck. If not; if you’ve been at this work-thing for many years, it’s not too late. An early start is absolutely ideal, but all you have is now. The nest egg will not have as many years to accumulate or work for you, but implementing a financial plan is necessary for retirement and peace-of-mind nonetheless. So how can you begin, today, to manage your money in a way you will appreciate 5, 10, 20, or even 40 years down the road?


The Strength and Momentum of Social Capital: Where to Focus Your Attention As a Career-Minded Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired. Plus, Chickens.

I just listened to Margaret Hefferman’s TED Talk: "Why It's Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work" and I am sincerely inspired and enlightened. It’s a must-watch. Margaret shares research conducted on (none other than) groups of chickens measured for productivity. The researcher gathered the most productive chickens from each group (meaning, the chickens who laid the most eggs) and created a new group with these “super chickens”. Six generations of chickens later, the researchers examined the “super chickens” and found that all but two were


It's Spring, Let's Focus on Growth. [Your Career Advancement, That Is.]

She looked to be in her early thirties and is running a successful company. She had our full attention at the AFB Leadership Conference, that's for sure. Most interesting to me were Erika Arbogast's, CEO of Blind and Vision Rehab Services of Pittsburgh, tips for young leaders. She communicated principles enabling her to quickly advance in her career. The principles resonated with me, and a few left me challenged. I wondered if they'd do the same for you. Principle 1: You want to move up the career ladder? Talk with your supervisor. While you clearly won't say, "I want your job" or "One day I hope


Resources for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired and Over Age 50

Have you seen the 2015 film, "The Intern"? If so, you remember Ben Whitaker (played by Robert De Niro) pursuing an internship after finding retirement rather lonely. He interns with a young professional (played by Anne Hathaway) who gradually recognizes Whitaker to be a source of wisdom, chivalry, and sound business principles. She realizes Whitaker's know-how and insight are profoundly valuable, not to mention she genuinely enjoys his company. You, yes you, are also valuable in the workplace. Your experiences and knowledge bring a richness, depth, and perspective that cannot be duplicated. If you are ready to


Motivate an Employment Team By Recognizing Their Personality Colors: Information for Work-Oriented Individuals Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Fully Sighted

You may remember I went to “The Four Lenses 4-Temperament Discovery”, an “understanding your personality color” workshop. To recap, I learned my personality color order: blue (characterized by connection, empathy, and care), orange (characterized by variety, fun, and adventure), gold (characterized by order, methods, and leadership), and then green (characterized by analytics, details, and logic). We all display all four colors, but in any respective order. To learn more about personality color, check out


Your Personality Color and Where You Shine: Information for Work-Oriented Individuals Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Fully Sighted

Last night I went to an “understanding your personality color” workshop and soaked up the information as much for myself as for the purpose of relaying it to you. Okay, it was technically entitled “The Four Lenses 4-Temperament Discovery”, but that doesn’t sound exciting or personal enough for the likes of my personality color combination. While there, I answered a series of questions about how I would respond to various situations, and my score tally revealed my personality color order: blue (characterized by connection, empathy, and care), orange (characterized by variety, fun, and adventure), gold (characterized by order, methods, and leadership),


Top 3 Ways to Find Gainful Employment As an Older Worker with Vision Loss

Are you an older job seeker looking to return to work? Deciding if you want to continue or return to work after vision loss is a great first step to regaining your independence. You can earn additional income, learn new skills, and develop a sense of accomplishment. In fact, there are many reasons why older workers can benefit from reentering the work force. But after deciding you are ready to get back to work, you have to go through the process of finding the right job for you. So how can you find gainful


The Real Gold at the End of the Rainbow: Leadership Tips from CEOs

There I was at the recent AFB Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., typing what felt like a million words per minute. The guidance was spot-on and I had to record each utterance for myself and for you. It was a morning session and sitting side-by-side on the central platform was current president and CEO of AFB, Carl Augusto, and former president of the American Printing House for the Blind, Tuck Tinsley. Who better than to provide leadership tips, and that they did exceptionally well.


Before We Spring Forward, We Must Look Back: Aaron Preece’s Inspiring Employment Story for Job Seekers with Vision Loss

My commute to the office the last couple of days has been surprisingly pleasant. The sun has been shining, the birds have been singing, and the temperature has reached a refreshing 55 degrees. I am starting to think Punxsutawney Phil had the right idea; an early spring seems to be upon us. Regardless of the accuracy of his prediction, I am looking forward to a few extra hours of sunlight and warmer weather. But before we spring forward, I think we should take a look back. Despite my eagerness to fast forward the seasons, I do find value in reflecting on the past. It is nice to see all that we have accomplished, the challenges we have overcome, and


Why Older Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Should Continue to Pursue Employment Opportunities

What drives someone to want to find gainful employment? Is it the financial return, the contribution to society, or finding success in meaningful work? There are millions of reasons we should want to pursue employment, but there are also many obstacles that can stand in our way, including age-related vision loss. As an older worker, you should not let your age or vision loss prevent you from pursuing gainful employment. There are tons of reasons why you should continue to work and there are tons of reasons


5 Necessary Actions to Take When Waiting for a Job Callback As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

After reading U.S. News’ 5 Things You Should Never Do While Waiting to Hear Back About a Job, I felt compelled to write what we should do when waiting to hear if we are selected for positions. Maybe you’re not currently in that seemingly-drawn-out, giving-me-ulcers circumstance, but if you’re looking to change positions or are hoping to secure a position, I’m sure that high-stakes time will come; and along with it, high blood pressure. And when that time comes, congratulations will be in order for making it far in the hiring process. Your job-seeking


Leap Day Means Extra Resources for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired with Multiple Disabilities

It’s Leap Day! That magical day that only comes along every four years. It’s the time for following the old Irish legend of women proposing to men and everyone having fun with frog and leaping puns. And while February 29 doesn’t call for much celebration, it does give us an opportunity to share some resources for job seekers who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities. If you are a teacher of the visually impaired or a parent of a child with multiple disabilities, it can be difficult preparing your teen for employment. Make the most out of February by utilizing these free resources: Employment and Multiple Disabilities


Where Are They Now? Preview of Visually Impaired Doctor, Joe Fontenot

You might remember him as the successful cardiologist or maybe you know him as the Medical Director of Community Services for Vision Rehabilitation in Mobile, Alabama, but did you know that Dr. Joe Fontenot is also a long time mentor of AFB CareerConnect? We decided to take some time this month to reconnect with our friend and mentor, Dr. Joe Fontenot, M.D., CLVT, to see how he is continuing to achieve workplace success. Dr. Fontenot started his career as a medical doctor almost 50 years ago, and while he explained to us that he is semi-retired, we know that his work is never finished. After working as a cardiologist for years, Dr. Fontenot decided to transition into


Effective Time Management Advice for Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

As I sift through piles of work and school assignments, I find it ironic that I am writing a post about managing time. Often there are times when we are overwhelmed with unexpected work and begin to fall of track. Life can get hectic for everyone, but it is important to remember that embracing time management tactics will help us be more successful not only at work but in our day-to-day lives. By better managing your time, you are less stressed, better organized, and have more time for the more enjoyable moments of life. Being organized is beneficial to everyone. If you are unemployed and looking for a job, being unorganized can hinder your process,


Preparing a Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired with Multiple Disabilities for Work: Provide the Teen with Opportunities to Be the Helper

Your teenage son, daughter, student, or consumer who is visually impaired with multiple disabilities has likely been “the one the classmates help”, “the one the siblings help”, and “the one the parents help”. Thus, he internalizes “I am the one who needs help” and “People are here to help me.” Let me be the first to say I need help on many activities. When my internet goes down, I quickly ask my husband for help. When I’m rearranging furniture, I ask for a hand. When I’m learning a new skill, I ask for guidance and feedback. Everybody needs help, and that is more than okay...it’s healthy. What becomes


Don’t Quit, Develop Grit: Acquiring a Trait Necessary for Career Success (Whether Blind, Visually Impaired, or Fully Sighted)

We previously discussed Dr. Angela Duckworth’s research on grit. She identified this trait of “sustained practice and performance toward very long-term goals” as one that is as important as raw talent in achieving success. Interestingly, Dr. Duckworth notes that some are born grittier than others. [“Grittier”, yes, I can’t make this stuff up!] How about you? Are you one who is naturally determined to excel, who won’t abandon your goal when setbacks arise, and who won’t lose interest or momentum when practicing over time? If so, you’re awfully gritty, and Dr. Duckworth would predict you will succeed in an area of


Seeking Success After “Failures” on the Job for Those Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If you feel like you’ve blown it at work or you fear you aren’t cut out for work, I’m talking to you. You made a sizable mistake on the job; you received unsatisfactory performance feedback; you don’t think you have what it takes to learn assistive technology, therefore you work slowly and it is noticed; or you were recently let go. I know it hurts. It’s embarrassing. It’s intimidating. It’s stressful. Let’s face those emotions; name them, but don’t get stuck there. Chin up; look forward and pave the way for success after disappointment or misstep. And just how is this done? Glad you asked. Seek


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

Job seekers and employees who are blind or visually impaired, do you understand the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act? If you’re a little fuzzy on the subject, read on. First, understand that the ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual based on his or her disability. This means that you, as a person who is blind or visually impaired, can file a complaint if you think you were not hired, were not fairly compensated, were not considered for promotion, or were not given job training opportunities solely because you have a disability. ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations needed to perform job tasks and trainings.


A Trait As Valuable As High Intelligence in Propelling and Predicting Workplace Success

If your goal is maintaining and advancing in your career, it would be wise to identify predictors of workplace success. I’m thankful for bright and motivated individuals who study and research this very topic. I’ll present their findings to you. Before I share the research, what would you hypothesize as the most significant traits contributing to career excellence? I assumed workplace success is contingent on high intelligence, general likability, and keen self-awareness. None of which is wrong, but my hypothesis overlooks a recently identified and researched trait. By now the suspense is torture, so without further ado: Dr.


It’s One Sharp Tool! Browse Jobs by Career Clusters As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

If you’re a student contemplating a career path to pursue, or an adult considering a career-change, I want to be certain you have this tool in hand. Browse Jobs by Career Clusters. It’s as simple as that; one click away. There you can select interests from the many career clusters listed below. Art, Entertainment, and Pop Culture Business Communications & Media Corporate Jobs Culinary &


Today is Thank Your Mentor Day! Celebrate Your Mentor Relationship As a Mentee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

If you needed an extra reason to show appreciation for your mentor during National Mentoring Month, today is the day. Today, January 21st is “Thank Your Mentor Day”. Today, mentees from all over are encouraged to reach out and honor the individuals who have guided them. I personally have had many mentors during my educational, career, and personal life paths. I have been fortunate to be connected to such inspirational people who have helped guide me over the years. Reflecting on “Thank Your Mentor Day” I am reminded of my tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. Underwood. Although it has been years since I have spoken to her, Mrs.


So You Think You Can Dance? I Mean, Mentor? Yes, You Can. Here’s How.

One of my favorite experiences with my transition students was summertime dance instruction. Along with acquiring dance skills and physical strength, the teenagers (who were blind or visually impaired) learned confidence, poise, grace, and teamwork. When the students partnered in ballroom dancing, they practiced effective leading and following. This has me thinking. A mentor, like the lead in a dance partnership, kindly directs the mentor relationship. The mentor recognizes the skill and comfort levels of the mentee; the mentor determines the next steps, based on the goals and interests of the mentee; the mentor


New, Self-Paced, and Free: Our CareerConnect Course, Maintaining and Advancing in Employment

Did you catch the blog post where I announced the arrival of our new baby? She’s freshly born, all 8 lbs 6 oz of her. Healthy as can be; Mom and baby are doing great. But seriously, did you visit her--err, it? It’s our newest online course and, I’ll be honest, we’re kind of like proud parents. You see, the content is a big deal.


Why Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Should Be Career Mentors

I am convinced it would be enormously beneficial to you (and all recipients) if you who are blind or visually impaired and successfully employed (or retired) would volunteer as career mentors. [Please note, if you have not been successfully employed, you can mentor or influence others in your areas of strength.] The personal benefits received from career mentoring include accountability, leadership skill acquisition, personal reflection, personal satisfaction, and creating a legacy. There are, of course, multiple benefits to the recipients of your career mentorship. I will highlight three. The first


National Mentoring Month: Get Involved As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Happy National Mentoring Month! With self-improvement goals in the air, January is the perfect time to get involved in a mentoring program. Join us for the next two weeks as we celebrate our CareerConnect mentors, encourage students and professionals to get involved, and share the benefits of developing a meaningful mentorship! But in case you didn’t know that January is National Mentoring Month, I will let you in on a little secret. Mentoring truly can make a world of difference in all aspects of your life. Whether you are a student, young adult, or a working professional, mentoring is linked to improved academic, social,


New Year, New Challenges: Dealing with Vision Loss on the Job

Every year we are faced with new, unexpected challenges. Whether we are struggling with our resolutions, finding a new job, or going back to school, we can never quite know what the year will hold for us. This is especially true if you are experiencing vision loss. Imagine you go for your usual eye exam and the doctor tells you that you have lost 40 percent of your vision. Where did it go?


Universal Expectation for Employees with Vision Loss: The Importance of Improving Your Braille Literacy Skills

When you think about the “Top 10” skills employers look for, what comes to mind? What about communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills? Maybe even time management or leadership ability. While all of these skills are important to employers, there is one universal skill that is necessary for all employees-to-be regardless of the position. Can you guess what it is? What skill set do you think that all employers expect in a potential employee? Literacy skills! Literacy skills help you gain the knowledge and know-how to perform your job, and while this means reading print and using media and technology for your sighted peers,


Tips for Working with a Recruiter or Headhunter As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Often times a company will refrain from publicly announcing a job opening, opting to utilize a professional job recruiter (sometimes named a Headhunter) to search for 4-10 ideal candidates. The company will then examine the recruiter’s recommended candidates and choose several to interview. If the company chooses to hire a recommended candidate, they will pay the recruiter for his services. There is certainly an art to attracting and working with a recruiter. First, visibility, a good reputation, and a strong social network are fundamental. Recruiters generally begin their search for candidates by asking trusted contacts and associations for


Have Yourself a Merry Little Work-Related Celebration As an Employee Who Is Visually Impaired

Congratulations to all of you who have succeeded in taking career education and exploration courses, transition classes and other work-related workshops, tutorials or lessons. Anything like this you’ve done is going to help you do better at finding and succeeding at work. And, another hearty congratulations to all those who have just landed a job for the first time. Way to go! We know it wasn’t easy but you’ve done it, so let’s celebrate and add a few tricks to your trade! (Or, in other words, let’s add a few more work-related tools to your toolbox.) For starters, I’m going to list a few tips for those of you who are in a


Do You Hear What I Hear? How to Master the Phone Interview As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

If you have an upcoming phone interview, you have come to the right place. I’d like to give you a blueprint that proposes how to best prepare for the occasion. Here’s where I’d start. Do you remember my Mildly-Awkward Poem Filled with Resources for Preparing for a Job Interview? Well, it may have been more than mildly awkward, and I do hope it never makes the Google search under my name, but it’s a good place to get your bearings. After identifying


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Time to Sharpen Your Social Media Skills As a Job Seeker with Vision Loss

Continuing with the Top 10 Holiday Hits, I present to you my favorite holiday song paired with my favorite “reputation” advice! You’ve heard it a million times…no, not the song, but that your social media presence matters! Whether you never post on any networking site or forum or if you are a social media guru, there is always room for improvement. Looking for a new job? Trying to grow your professional network? This much and more can be accomplished online by creating the right type of profile. Check out my latest favorite social media “rules” to sharpen your skills this season: Rule #1: Stay


My Only Wish Is to Better My Weaknesses As a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

So you have a job-related weakness? You’re in good company. So does…every single job seeker (and living human). In fact, if you “don’t have a weakness”, let me be the one to tell you that your weakness is none other than pride. Now about that weakness. After identifying it (and if that’s troublesome, remember to seek constructive criticism), it’s time to shift your focus onto an action plan. For example, I’m just a wee bit shy. I remember working as a transition


These Cover Letter Secrets [Jingle Bell] Rock! Get Your Resume Noticed As a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Do you struggle with writing a “noticeable” cover letter? I do! I always spend forever writing my cover letter. I struggle to find the balance between interesting and on topic. I mean, how do I show that I am a good fit for the job and that I am not a stick in the mud? How do I portray myself as a unique asset to the company in just a few short paragraphs? I am sure we have all been there. We have the skills, education, and work experience, but somehow, our cover letters just don’t measure up. It’s time for that to change! It is time for you vamp up your cover letter and land that interview. After researching through the


You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch: Dealing with Rejection As a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Oh, rejection! Why must you be so cruel? Be it the moment I realized my first serious crush was completely disinterested in me, the time my name was [heartlessly] omitted from the list of accepted members of the cheerleading squad, or the dreaded job rejection…it hurt! Any and all lightheartedness aside, my ego was crushed and I questioned if I’d ever be “good enough” for love, for a sport, or for job success. If that’s where you are today; if you are facing job rejection and fighting against depression, I want to point you to wisdom. I want to remind you of what you already know, and I want to provide you with an action plan that you can customize.


Make Tonight a “Silent Night” to Catch Up on the Latest Success Stories of Employees with Vision Loss

Whew! This time of the year we are all planning or going to dinners and parties, looking for the perfect gift for someone, cramming for finals and running here, there and everywhere. So much to fit in to our already crowded schedules! While these activities are fun, still it is very tiring mentally and physically. So why not plan a night this week for some down time to relax and enjoy reading about the great successes of people who are blind or visually impaired doing jobs not too many thought they could do. Chances are you will find someone doing a job you are considering too. Find over one hundred first person accounts of individuals successfully working in many


Baby, It’s Cold Outside; Warm Up With These Hot Jobs for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Whether you have known what you wanted to do since you were a child or if you are just now exploring your options, deciding on what career path to pursue can be a life-changing decision. Before making your choice, it is important to explore your options. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons, determine the future prospects of the field, and figure out if this line of work is really right for you. Once you have given it some thoughtful consideration, you should begin your job search. But what if you aren’t sure on what career to pursue? Or what if you are not sure where to begin? Simple! Start by exploring growing careers that


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Step Up Your Job Search: Advice for Job Seekers of All Ages with Vision Loss

I hope this most wonderful time of year brings you the feel of cold air against your flushed cheeks; the scent of pine wafting from your living room; and the taste of warm gingerbread cookies, still half-melted from the oven. I hope this season also provides you the time to reflect on 2015, and you look back with gratitude. I hope you are inspired to look forward to 2016, and you feel moved to press in to your career dreams and goals. If a successful job search is your 2016 goal, utilize the following advice to step up your job search, no matter your age: Take advantage of


AFB Holiday Hits: Top 10 Pieces of Career Advice for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Here at AFB CareerConnect, we love the holiday season! It is a great time to reflect on your past and learn to better your future. In fact, it’s a great time to gear up your job search and improve your career resource skills! But the chaos of buying all those presents, cooking that big dinner, and going to party after party can leave you without any time to better yourself. So this year, CareerConnect invites you to take a little time to simply sit back, relax, and brush up on your skills while singing along to our favorite holiday songs with “AFB CareerConnect Holiday Hits!” For the next two weeks, we will be posting our most


My Favorite Piece of Career Advice (and How I Tailor It to Job-Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired)

I don't know if you follow the CareerConnect Pinterest Board, but I must say it's quite entertaining to peruse. We've posted blog posts with topics ranging from general career advice to counsel specific to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Basically it's a one-stop-shop when you're in the mood to glean career guidance. Today I "pinned" (that's the term for adding an image and accompanying web link) a Forbe's article entitled, 20 Things 20 Year Olds Don't Get. I've noticed that title on many occasions when I


Applying for a Job and You Have No Prior Experience? Suggestions for Those Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

When you’re ready to find work, but you have no related work experience, it’s time for a game plan. To begin, consider which prior skills from jobs, volunteer opportunities, and life experiences are transferable to the new job. In addition to technical skills listed on the job description, identify soft skills such as flexibility, communication, organization, leadership, perseverance, teamwork, ingenuity, and problem-solving abilities. Explain that you are motivated and eager to learn the technical skills necessary for the job. Communicate in your cover letter and/ or interview that you have the foundation of


Read and Heed: 5 Resources for Navigating a Successful Job Search for Those Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Like a gift, assembled, wrapped, and presented to you, is this list of CareerConnect resources. You will receive encouragement, guidance, recommendations, professional opinions, tools, and empowerment to be used on your journey of discovering successful employment. Open, read, and heed the following resources: Ten Steps to Start Your Job Search


Commence the [Super Fun] Discussion: Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired?

We usually cover heavy topics, I know. Today let’s kick back, relax, and discuss a downright-fun topic. Who is your favorite fictional employee who is blind or visually impaired? I can’t wait to hear about your favorite character from a book, TV show, or movie, and the accompanying reason he or she was chosen. As for my favorite fictional employee who is blind or visually impaired, I have to choose the character of Auggie Anderson (played by Christopher Gorham) from USA Network's Covert Affairs. He works in the CIA as a technical genius and a guide (called a “handler”) for the


Constructive Criticism and How to Apply It As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

So you bit the bullet and asked a supervisor, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend for constructive criticism on your job performance and people skills. Or perhaps you never asked, but “got an earful” regarding your need for improvement. You were given any number of suggestions for enhancing your social and work skills. Now what should you do with this hopefully- valuable and hopefully-well-intentioned feedback? After listening to the feedback, recording it, and thanking the individual for their input (Yes, thank them. They are helping you!), practice the following in order to apply the constructive criticism:


National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the United States Business Leadership Network's Career Link Student Mentoring Program

Well, yes, it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and this is a month that we celebrate the movement. Yes, the movement to get disability employment to be on the mind of the public and employers. Truthfully, I spend my whole year doing this, but this is the month with a big national and international push for inclusion. During this month, you will see many blog posts on AFB's CareerConnect Blog and from our family of websites. AFB CareerConnect plans on bringing it hard, so stay up with us. We have already brought you a slew of new content and advice on the CareerConnect Blog and from the


Do Young Adults Have Role Models? Qualities to Look for in an Inspirational Role Model As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

As a child I can remember writing about my role model in grade school. I can remember describing how I wanted to be just like… you guessed it, my mom. Cheesy? Yes, but I can remember how I wanted to be smart and successful like her. I can recall how I wanted to be a teacher just like she was. While I might not have become a teacher, I know that my life was influenced by many role models I developed throughout the years. But the big question is: do we stop having role models when we “grow up”? Can adults still have inspirational role models? Although I have “grown up” and graduated college, there are still people I look up to. There are


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

I have this theory; bear with me. After somebody says or does something that causes my eyes to bulge in surprise, I remind myself, “He doesn’t know how he is coming across. He needs to clean his mental filter.” What I mean is, I am convinced all people go about their business doing what they know to be normal or acceptable, and on occasion it is not normal or acceptable or even good, and the person hasn’t the slightest because his “mental filter is clogged”. Filters get clogged. It happens to me; it happens to my husband; it happens to my parents (sorry, Mom and Dad, should you ever read this post); it happens to my friends; it


Following Up with National Disability Employment Awareness Month; Let Me Tell You a Story

Held each October, and marking its 70th year, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a month long occasion to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. We hope everyone took note of and enjoyed this important occasion. NDEAM and the intense highlighting of the abilities of workers with disabilities may be over, but AFB CareerConnect is still here! AFB CareerConnect is like New York City; it never sleeps, never goes away, is super populated, up and running 24/7 teaching and


Our Stories Interview with Statewide Assistive Technologist, Laine Amoureux

Are you interested in the latest inspirational and educational workplace success stories? Are you looking for career advice from someone who is blind or visually impaired who knows what it takes to be gainfully employed? Meet Laine Amoureux, a vivacious, energetic woman who uses technology and time management to live a well-balanced life of work and play, and how this balance makes her a better employee who happens to be visually impaired. We couldn’t have picked a better candidate to feature in the Our Stories section for National Disability Employment


What to Expect for Your New Job As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Everyone loves that phone call, email, or handshake with the wonderful phrase, “You’re hired!” But now what? Now that you have landed your new job, what should you expect in the coming months? How will you be able to succeed in your position? A simple way to stay employed is to meet your employer’s expectations. As you grow in your position, your job responsibilities and your employer’s expectations will change. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your progress to ensure that you will not only keep your job for the years to come but land a promotion. What to Expect During the First Week:


Mentoring Enhances Meaningful Outcomes in Career Education and Exploration for Those with Disabilities

This month is a celebration of the community of people with disabilities and the workplace in which they rightly belong. As National Disability Employment Awareness Month moves forward this October we’d like to pay a warm, deserving tribute to the many wonderful mentors in our AFB CareerConnect program. It’s deeply satisfying knowing that these hard working blind and visually impaired individuals are committed, of the highest caliber and gladly connect with any other person with vision loss who is working to find employment or to climb the career ladder. They can also advise professionals who work with blind or visually impaired


Cue the Applause: Celebrating Our Mentors on Disability Mentoring Day

Thank you mentors! Today we celebrate our AFB CareerConnect mentors for their dedication and continued support in the e-mentoring program! We couldn’t do it without you! You have provided guidance, advice, and inspiration for students and job seekers who are blind or visually impaired. You have made us realize that we too can find gainful employment and succeed at work. When I first started my internship at AFB CareerConnect, I was amazed at how many mentors in over 300 different fields were offering their time and expertise to help job seekers. It has been a pleasure to talk with you over the phone, read your success stories,


It's What I Can Do at Work That Matters, Not My Disability or Blindness

As National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) continues, we are going to keep pumping out the most relevant advice possible. When I meet people in the public or employers at meetings, there is typically an “elephant in the room”. I have to be prepared to address my value as a professional. When I walk into the room with white cane and my snazzy suit, I have to be prepared to address the “elephant in the room”. That is right, it is a lot like I walk into the room with a big purple elephant. The elephant is my blindness or visual impairment. I think my great looks and smooth personality breaks the ice quickly. Most people don't have


Forget the Major League Baseball Playoffs; It Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

I know the Major League Baseball playoffs are really heating up now that it is October, but so is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. AFB’s AccessWorld and AFB CareerConnect staff have teamed up to create this month’s employment focused issue of AccessWorld. Each month, AccessWorld comes out with a new issue of evaluations, commentary, and interviews related to the latest technology and trends for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. I spend a lot of time reading each issue in my travels via my


Get Your Disability Disclosure On and Embrace Your Diversity

Okay, it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and I am passing the message about disability disclosure. I spend a lot of time traveling the United States speaking to youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired, their associated professionals, and employers about specific topics. Disability disclosure is one of my passions, as so many don't understand the right way to disclose about their disability to an employer. I ran into this recently, as I was getting my thing on with my "Tell me a little bit about yourself" and being practical about your disability. I was mentioning that a young lady around ten years old once said to me, "Keep


I Found a Treasure: A Resource for Job Seekers and Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Do you enjoy perusing the AFB CareerConnectwebsite looking for personally relevant tools, articles, and resources as a job seeker or employee who is blind or visually impaired? If not, I’m afraid you may overlook one treasure of a resource that offers links to an assortment of job listings; career information for adults and young people; tools that prepare job-hunters and career-changers; forums for networking and brainstorming; employment advice; employment-related articles; and various resources for job seekers and employees with disabilities. Here she is, in all


8 Guidelines for Working with a Difficult Boss As an Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

If you have a boss or supervisor, even a coworker, who is particularly challenging, I am sorry. I’m sure this makes your time at work discouraging, uncomfortable, or even agonizing. Before you resort to searching for a new job (though conducting a job search is always an option), it’s a good idea to consider how the individual is feeling and how you can improve the situation. Before we begin with my suggestions, be aware that as a person who is blind or visually impaired, you may be missing


Overcoming Failure: It’s What You Do With It That Matters

I tend to look at everything in my life as black or white, a success or a failure. If I accomplish my goals, I am on top of the world. I feel empowered, self-confident, and ready to take on anything. But when I don’t succeed, I feel overwhelmingly disappointed in myself. I convince myself that I will never succeed. I tell myself that I am not good enough or smart enough to accomplish my goals. Some might say I don’t cut myself enough slack, and my blood pressure would agree with them, but it is hard to pull yourself out of that cycle. It is difficult to tell yourself that this one failure does not determine who you are or your


Self-Confidence Part 3: Encouraging Work-Confidence in Teenagers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Consider seventeen year old Jessa. Jessa enjoys science classes and hopes for a career in a laboratory, hospital, or veterinary clinic. She’s actually never stepped foot into a laboratory, and has only briefly visited a hospital and a veterinary clinic. She isn’t certain of a specific job she’d enjoy, and she feels nervous to pursue any job because she doesn’t feel like she has any talents or valuable skill sets. After high school graduation, she feels paralyzed in making career decisions. Now consider sixteen year old Miguel. Miguel also enjoys science classes and hopes for a career in a laboratory,


Where Are They Now? David Block, Blind Documentary Producer and Director

Whether you have watched one of his inspirational documentaries or have read one of his articles in the New York Times, you can’t forget about David Block! As a blind documentary producer, director and freelance journalist, David is always hard at work on something new and exciting. Get the inside scoop on David’s latest projects with AFB CareerConnect! He is at it again! For the last few years, David Block has been working on his seventh documentary, Mirror of the Soul! Following the words of the late Winston Churchill, “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man,” David’s new film focuses on


Using E-mail in the Workplace As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

As you know, the primary mode of communication between many coworkers, particularly within offices, is e-mail. Convenient? Most definitely. Personal? Not quite. Yes, e-mail has its advantages and disadvantages. For that reason, there is a time to send e-mail and a time to schedule a face-to-face or phone meeting. If your message could be easily misunderstood because it’s complicated or intended to be sarcastic, schedule a meeting or make a phone call. I’d also recommend a meeting if you’re about to share unpleasant news, provide significant constructive criticism, and when you need an immediate response. For the many occasions e-mail is appropriate, apply


Ending August Artist Appreciation Month: Celebrating Blind and Visually Impaired Artists

When you think of art what comes to mind? For many people, they think of the bright colors or textures that they can see with their eyes, but what about artists or art enthusiasts who are blind or visually impaired? Art is more than something you can see. It can be something you feel and experience without sight. Art is also something that individuals with vision loss are turning into a career. John Bramblitt and Jeff Owen Hanson are just two examples of blind or visually impaired artists who are making a career out of painting. John Bramblitt is a blind American artist living in Denton, Texas who has been featured on CBS Evening News, ABC, NBC, FOX, Discovery Channel, and BBC Radio and TV. His art has received much recognition including the “Most Inspirational Video


Self-Confidence: How It Increases Your Employability As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

You know that guy or gal who [thinks he] knows everything about everything? The one whose confidence is overpowering and maybe just a tad nauseating? That is not, I repeat not, the self-confidence I am referencing in this mini blog series. Instead, I’d like to coin a new term that illuminates and more clearly defines the confidence I want us to achieve: humble confidence. Oxymoron? I think not. The balance of humility and self-confidence is imperative. It means you’re sure of who you are and certain of your abilities and limits, yet you do not value yourself over your team members. You recognize others have their own skill-sets


Can Happiness Happen at Work for Someone Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired?

Imagine this: You are working overtime for the third week in a row, and you are having difficulty completing your latest project. No one is helping you met your quickly approaching deadline, and you feel extremely overwhelmed. You have missed your favorite TV show, your best friend’s birthday, and your weekly R&R all week because of this one task at work. You are frustrated and ready to give up. So, is it possible to turn it around? Can you make happiness happen at work despite all of the chaos? Can you manage to find ways to be positive and stay focused during the busiest week yet? I bet you can! We have all


Educating Sighted Students As a Teacher Who Is Blind

There is a saying which goes, "Those who can't, teach." But what if you are fully able and still want to pursue a career in teaching? The new saying should be, "Those who care teach." At least that should be the case for Brian Quintana. Brian Quintana exceeds classroom expectations of a middle school teacher. Teaching English and Social Studies classes to sighted students, Brian is an educator who is blind. So what is it like being blind and maintaining an educator's position in the school system? AFB CareerConnect had the chance to catch up with Brian, one of our outstanding mentors, in order for him to share his story. Brian is a great example


Get Pumped Up: The Work-Related Benefits of Exercise for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Could you use an increase in energy? How about a boost in mental clarity? I thought so! If you exercise regularly, you’ve noticed not only a strong body (the typical focus of exercise), but also a strong mind. If you don’t exercise regularly, you’ve likely recognized a need for a fit body and a fit mind. Those who identify with the latter, I am right there with you. You see, I go through bouts of prioritizing exercise, and then I, well, get a bit lazy. Those months drag on, as I weed through each day, feeling mentally sluggish and physically sapped. Not cool. Currently you ask? I am not exercising and I definitely do not like how I feel.


When It’s Time to Relocate for Work: Information for Those Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If only we lived in a world where promising employment opportunities were situated on every block and public transportation systems were established in every size city. Unfortunately, that’s just not reality. Many of you live in small towns and have exhausted all employment opportunities in your area, or at least ones that pay a living wage. Public transportation is pivotal for maintaining employment as a person who is blind or visually impaired, and maybe in your city it is absent or minimal at best. Remember when I suggested it could be


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


Spoiler Alert! Like Peanut Butter Found a Counterpart in Jelly, the Beloved Transition Toolkit Has Found its Counterpart in Our Newest Self-Paced Curriculum

What could possibly enhance AFB CareerConnect’s The Job Seeker's Toolkit? You know it well, I hope; the electronic curriculum that navigates users who are blind or visually impaired through the process of gaining employment. The answer: its complement, Maintaining and Advancing in Employment. While users navigate through self-awareness, discover the process of career exploration, learn routes to finding employment, and absorb interview advice within The Job Seeker’s Toolkit, users can now attain counsel in continuing and


Think Like A Boss: What It Takes to Move Up in Your Career As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Go here with me. You’re the owner of a downtown, trendy juice bar and are looking to promote a current employee to manager. What are you looking for in a potential leader? Might I suggest a few key attributes? A person of integrity. An individual with a kind, firm disposition. One who can do more than follow orders, but can identify issues and invent solutions in effort to reach end goals. I don’t want to spend much time on the first two attributes. You know dishonest tendencies are a “fatal flaw” in the work department. And to learn more about a kind, firm temperament, read


Six Guidelines for Establishing an Effective, Healthy Mentorship

Perhaps you have an official mentor whom you meet twice per month to seek


Social Media Struggles: Clean It Up Before It’s Too Late

We all use it. We all upload, post, share, and comment with it every day. But do we truly realize the impact our social media sites have on our ability to get that new job? Now more than ever employers are researching their potential employees online. They are searching for us on Google and looking through months of Tweets, Instagram selfies, and Facebook rants. And you better believe they will find that one post you don’t want them to find. Once they discover that undesirable post, you might as well fill out a new job application because employers are rejecting more potential employees than ever


The Americans with Disabilities Act: 25 Years of Celebration

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)! This great accomplishment has helped people all across the country in employment, housing, health care, education, public transportation, and parks & recreation. Although ADA covers many aspects, I am especially excited to celebrate how Title 1 of ADA has helped blind and visually impaired job seekers achieve gainful employment. Since it was signed on July 26, 1990, ADA has helped calm the concerns of employers and employees when it comes to addressing a disability or accommodations in the workplace. So in honor of this landmark anniversary, I am encouraging you to find a way to


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


Summer Challenge: Take a Vacation

More than 50 percent of Americans take vacation time in the month of July, and of that 50 percent most will travel in the second week of July. Welcome to the second week of July, and welcome to our next summer challenge: Vacation. You may think that while summer challenges are to keep your mind and energy focused on the work place and job efforts, taking a vacation away from work would be the last thing to advise. Well, lucky for you and the rest of us science tells us that vacation time away from work is not only good for you, but will increase productivity and well-being. A few selling points on why a


Summer Challenge: Get Mentally Fit As a Person With a Disability

Being healthy can mean a lot of different things. It can mean exercising regularly, cutting out the sugary drinks, eating three square salads a day, or even getting enough sleep. When you really think about it, we do a lot to improve our physical health, but what are we doing about our overall well-being? What are we doing to become mentally fit? When work becomes overwhelming and life gets stressful, what are you doing to overcome these obstacles? This week we are challenging you to discover what makes you mentally fit to succeed in any aspect of life. Mental fitness is about keeping your brain and emotional health in the best possible shape. This could


Preparing for Your First Month at Work As an Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Oh, the complexity of emotions that take hold when anticipating the start of a new job! I remember well the weeks leading up to each position I’ve undertaken, from serving tables to teaching teenagers. The feelings were a combination of excitement, worry, gratefulness, pride, fear, exhilaration, and a hefty pinch of "What have I gotten myself into?!" Thankfully, as weeks and months progress, work routines are established, coworker relationships are formed, and anxiety generally subsides. You’re awaiting the start of a new job? I’ll try to quiet your nerves by helping you prepare for a successful transition into the workplace. Keep in


Standing Out and Standing Tall in the Workplace As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Here’s a fact one can’t refute: As a person who is blind or visually impaired, you already stand out in your workplace. When you’re walking with a white cane or guide dog, when you’re accessing your computer with a screen reader or screen magnifier, and when you’re reading braille or print with the aid of a magnifier, people notice you. Why not use this sometimes-annoying-sometimes-awesome truth to your advantage? You definitely can. Your social skills and your work skills are noticed. I liken this to my husband’s job as a military chaplain. A chaplain is a counselor and pastor, and for that reason I’m acutely aware that our family life is examined. People take


Preparing for a Public Speaking Engagement As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Chances are you are on team "I am terrified of public speaking". You're far from alone; I'm on the same team, as are the mass majority of humans. So why are we troubled by the notion of sharing knowledge, opinion, and expertise with a large audience? I think the very thought of public speaking ignites the burn of insecurity if we are self-conscious about, well, anything. I get it. I'm right there with you. Additionally, we recognize our bodies physiologically freak out when we walk to the podium, leaving us forgetting what we memorized, speeding up our words, shaking, or short of breath. (Boy, doesn't that sound fun.) Whether


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

Good news: I will not be asking you to take a quiz that will quantify your emotional intelligence. Nope, not a chance. I only wish to open your eyes (and mine) to understand our own emotions, to understand how others feel and operate, and to understand a healthy exchange of emotions in relationships, specifically workplace relationships. That’s the premise behind emotional intelligence. I think the idea of identifying and exchanging emotions in relationships is especially important for those with blindness or a visual impairment. If you are unable to account for others’ facial expressions and body language, you must be more in tune with how you or


Tips for Working with an Employee, Employer, Coworker, or Client Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired and Has Multiple Disabilities

I hope you are reading this blogpost because you are anticipating the arrival of a new employee who has multiple disabilities. You likely know I can’t fully prepare you to work alongside the specific individual who is blind or visually impaired and has multiple disabilities, because each person with multiple disabilities is incredibly unique in abilities, preferences, personality, and needs. I can, however, encourage you to clear your pre-conceived expectations and enter the partnership with an open mind and respectful behavior. Here are tips for successfully embarking on your partnership: Even if you have


Attending Professional Conferences: How It Can Boost Your Career

Many of us attend conferences, either as part of our job or conferences that are of special interest to us. Attending such conferences is a great way to make new connections, learn about new legislation or programs, learn about new technology and even get continuing education credits for various certifications. I work in the special education field as a Transition Specialist, and regularly attend several conferences in Wisconsin, where I work. Attending such conferences gives me the opportunity to learn about new trends that are happening in the field of special education, including updates on relevant legislation, new transition and employment


12 of Today’s Hottest, Fastest Growing Careers and How to Pursue Them As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I’m all about coaching folks to pursue a job that sparks their interest, however, it’s important to consider the trends and needs of the labor market. If you’re torn between pursuing a degree in philosophy or science, I’d suggest researching job opportunities available for professionals in the respective fields. I do believe you’d find your chances of employment drastically increase with a degree in science. If you’re pondering a career field to study, are


Show and Tell: The Approach for Discussing Job Accommodations at an Interview When You're Blind or Visually Impaired

I frequently hear about the valuable "show and tell" tactic in job interviews. It makes perfect sense. Why state you're hardworking, a gifted problem solver, and a creative genius, when you can show the above by providing stories, examples, and a portfolio. For instance, instead of simply stating, "I am a good leader," you can show, or prove, you're a good leader by describing a specific successful leadership opportunity, by presenting a leadership award you earned, or by displaying evidence of a group project you successfully oversaw. You can see "showing and telling" is effective, impactful, interesting, and memorable. In my opinion,


The Telephone Interview As Someone Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

More and more companies are now conducting job interviews over the phone or via Skype or a similar type of video conferencing. The many reasons for his include the ease and affordability of interviewing somebody remotely, to narrow down a large number of applicants mostly due to the current job market, the ability to have a panel of interviewers from different locations and the availability of technology to make it possible. I have had several phone interviews over the years, so I will provide some suggestions that will hopefully lend to success with your phone interviews. When you are initially offered a phone interview, you may think great, now I don’t


Strike a Power Pose: Nonverbal Communication That Increases Your Confidence As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

While perusing AFB CareerConnect, you’ll find ample information on using intentional body language as a person who is blind or visually impaired; you’ll even find resources for teaching effective nonverbal communication . We recognize its use presents you as


Engaging in Extracurricular Activities As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Most blind and visually impaired students who attend college receive some type of support services. This often includes student support services, such as those from the student disability center. Such accommodations often include receiving books and other course materials in accessible format, extended time on tests, support with note taking and accessible electronic devices. Students may also receive orientation and mobility services and support from vocational rehabilitation. These services can make it possible for a student to successfully navigate on and around the campus, use available transportation and obtain necessary accommodations in internship


#LearnedInJapan: Employment Advice Absorbed from Japan for Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

It's a matter of weeks before our family relocates from Japan to our home country of America. This experience of 3 years in northern Japan has been enlightening, exhilarating, and precious. The land is beautiful, with well-manicured gardens on nearly every street corner, and the people are easy to love. The Japanese people I have met are almost universally polite, endearing, and put-together. I have much to learn from them. Today I sit in a Japanese cake house, sipping steamy green tea, and overhearing conversations in foreign tongue that have become a rhythmic background masterpiece. This is the perfect location to think. I am here


Lighthouse Works Seeks Individuals to Fill New Employment Positions

Today's blog is from an AFB CareerConnect contact, from our friends at Lighthouse Works! My name is Sharon McDonald, I’m a mother of three, a senior trainer and instructor at Lighthouse Works, and aside for some light perception…I am totally blind. I’m posting in the Career Connect blog today because I want to tell you about an opportunity to work in the customer service industry as a Contact Center Representative at Lighthouse Works. Lighthouse Works is a division of Lighthouse Central Florida (LCF)—Central Florida’s only private, nonprofit agency offering a complete range of services to


How to Say "No" at Work As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

We've established when it is generally acceptable to say "No" at work; now let's focus on the ever-important "how to". As always with assertive communication, view the situation from the perspective of the other individual. How would you want to be told "No"? If you're like most, you'd want to be told "No" with respect and honesty. You wouldn't want to be given excuses, you wouldn't want your request ignored, and you wouldn't want a harsh response. Consider the following guidelines for constructing an appropriate "No", no matter the circumstance. Tips for Saying "No" with Respect: Say "No" face-to-face when possible. An e-mail or


Back to the Basics: The Fundamental Reason You're Hired and How to Use it to Your Advantage

This is foundational. Let's strip away all the nitty-gritty of your specific job tasks and employer expectations. The general, overarching reason you were hired (or will be hired) for any job is (drumroll please) to solve problems. People get sick. That's a problem. Here to solve the problem: doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants. Home appliances malfunction. That's a problem. We need trained repairers. Criminal laws are broken. That's a problem. We need law enforcers. Children need an education. That's a problem. We need teachers. Businesses sell products and/or services. Services need to be provided; products need


Counting Down to Graduation: April, Getting a Job, Part 2

Question: How can you prepare for your “first” job interview? Your resume gets you in the door, but your interview can get you the job. Whether you are the nervous type or not, job interviews can be very stressful. That one moment can determine what you might be doing for the next couple of years, so it is important to come prepared and wow your interviewer. The best way to overcome any trepidation or nervousness is to be well prepared. Job seekers who have researched the company, prepared any disclosure information, and practiced their interviewing skills tend to perform better than those who do


Spring Forward in Your Career: Career Advancement Tips for Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Are you feeling stagnant in the workplace? Are you lacking advancement in your career roles and responsibilities? If this describes you, you're left with two choices. I envision the iconic scene in the movie, The Matrix, when the character Neo is forced to choose between two fates (depicted as choosing a red pill or blue pill). I half-jokingly present you with two fates, yours for the choosing. Fate 1, the red pill: Continue as you are at work. If you're lucky this will end in remaining at your current job. If you're not so lucky, this will end with your supervisor finding a legitimate reason to replace you.


Gaining Volunteer Experience As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Gaining volunteer experience is one way to develop some job skills, make new contacts and help to fine tune your work ethic. There are many options for volunteering, and most will provide you with a chance to help develop skills that can be transferred to a real job setting. The one thing volunteering will not provide you with is a paycheck. Therefore, I do think that volunteering can provide you with many benefits, but I think that it should be used sparingly and not as a replacement for paid employment. According to Employment First, an organization that


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

Dear reader who is currently unemployed and blind or visually impaired, I don't know your specific story. Maybe you're a full time student with graduation just around the corner; maybe you're a stay at home parent who is close to returning to work outside of the home; maybe you are between careers and need to find a job "last week". All I do know is you are currently in the "seed planting" phase of your career search, whether or not you realize it. What are you sowing, tilling, and cultivating now that will help you reap a healthy, ripe career? Maybe your local economy has extremely limited employment opportunities. Perhaps it's


Your First Job As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Starting your first job is almost always an exciting time. For many, it may follow a long hard stretch of searching for job openings, completing endless applications, some of which may not be very accessible, and then finally going to an interview or interviews, which may also be stressful. Feelings that individuals may experience when starting a first job include a sense of accomplishment, feeling worthy that somebody finally realized your potential and had enough confidence in you to hire you, and possibly being nervous about the unknown. Others may just be happy that they have an opportunity to earn some much


Counting Down to Graduation: April, Getting a Job

Question: How can you get that “first” job? There is a light at the end of the tunnel! With graduation just a few short weeks away, it is time to hit the pavement and get that new job. Whether it is your first job out of high school or a new job after college, finding gainful employment can be a challenge. The best place to start when finding a new job is with your resume. Resumes are essential in the job seeking process. Although there are many different types, all resumes provide your potential employer with your education, work experience, credentials, and accomplishments related to a specific job. Even when a


Spring Cleaning: Updating Your Office Wardrobe As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Out with the old, in with the new; it's time for spring cleaning! I've waited all year for this week I affectionately term "purge and splurge". This week I'll give myself permission to throw away the pants I live in that have faded or have otherwise become sloppy, and to donate the ones that have become too tight (they obviously shrunk in the wash, I white-lie to myself). I'll also add a few pieces to my wardrobe that present me as competent, poised, stylish, and chic. Let me explain the importance of maintaining a sharp office wardrobe, and then we'll dive into how to create that ideal wardrobe by "purging and splurging".


I Am, I Have, and I Will: A Message to Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired and Their Families

Recently, I had the opportunity to provide a keynote address at a transition from school to work event provided by the State of Maine at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME. I provided other specific sessions for youth and for families while there, but I wanted to reflect a little bit on my message to the youth and families. As AFB CareerConnect's Program Manager, I get asked occasionally to speak at conferences and events on different topics. Typically, I have an outline for my speech or presentation, but I often will adapt it to the audience and from inspiration. Well, I had some inspiration on my third and final flight of the day on my way


Where Are They Now, Preview: Amy Bower, Oceanographer

Do you remember Dr. Amy Bower? Whether you recognize her from her research, awards, or her volunteer work, Amy continues to impress AFB CareerConnect. Amy has continued to achieve success as Senior Scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, but what does she hope to achieve this year in her work life and personal life? On the work front, Amy has continued to expand her horizons by accepting and graduating her first Ph. D. student, advising her first post-doctoral intern, and undertaking new research projects. She also led oceanographic


Microsoft Creates a Large Impact with Their Accessibility Answer Desk and Seeks Talent

I recently attended a great presentation, Accessibility Support and the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk, at the CSUN Conference in San Diego, the largest disability-related technology conference. I had heard about their Accessibility Answer Desk and their work to provide support to individuals with disabilities. Well, I had an excellent opportunity to learn more about it at the CSUN Conference, as Mary Bellard presented on their program and Microsoft's efforts. I was really blown away with their


Getting LinkedIn As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Like most things in today’s world, more and more of the job search and application process is being done online. Although blind and viually impaired individuals are still too often faced with issues of inaccessibility on various websites and with completing online applications, overall the electronic world makes more information available to us. It is also true that many employers do a web search to check out the online foot print for potential employees. Therefore, it is important to not put things on the internet that can be harmful to your career and to create a positive professional image. One way to create such a positive


Bloom Where You're Planted: How to Thrive and Grow in a Non-Ideal Job As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

So, you have a job you don't love? By all means, pursue a new job. But…while in the process of securing a more fulfilling or higher paying position, I recommend staying right where you are and blooming where you are planted. It may not be your ideal career, but it's what you've got and it is a rich environment for cultivating your employable skills, both hard and soft. After all, it is spring. Spring is for blossoming flowers. Your current job is for blossoming you. Here's how to thrive and grow in your current job, preparing you for a more favorable position: Use your current job as the training ground to build positive work habits


Who Am I, and Why Do I Think Internships Can Benefit You?

Before the start of this year my experience in web coding was only slim. Equally as slim was my interaction with people who are blind or visually impaired. So why am I writing a blog to be posted by a foundation who center on these two things? I guess I should introduce myself. I, Ashley, am currently a junior in college studying online journalism and public relations. I started working with the American Foundation for the Blind this past January for the start of what will be a truly rewarding internship. I wanted to work with AFB to help better the lives of others. I have found that AFB's CareerConnect does exactly


Counting Down to Graduation: March, Furthering Your Education

Question: Do your career goals require additional education? Do you have a personal goal to go to college? Does your “dream job” require additional education? You are not alone! Millions of students each year are flooding college campuses in pursuit of furthering their education and increasing their job opportunities, but going back to school is a tough decision. It is a serious financial and time-consuming commitment that should be given thoughtful consideration. You will need to study for standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT, write college essays, fill out applications, prepare for college


Diversity and Inclusion - A Diverse Workforce That Includes Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Diversity and inclusion within corporations has become an important effort around the United States, and I want to take a few minutes to address this topic. As you probably already know, I am the American Foundation for the Blind's CareerConnect Program Manager. In this role, I manage this program with a great team, but I also travel the country doing workshops for youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired and the professionals who work with them. I feel lucky to also work with the United States Business Leadership Network's (USBLN) Career Link Student Mentoring


Erik Weihenmayer: His Story As a Blind Adventurer

You might recognize him from the film Blindsight, the ABC television show Expedition Impossible, or maybe you know him from the Nature Valley commercials. But did you know that Erik Weihenmayer is a blind adventurer who has summited the highest mountain on each continent?! I have to say that he is one of my role models, not because I aim to climb mountains, but for the fact that he sees no barriers and changes perceptions. He is a former teacher, turned world-class adventurer and athlete, but he is much more than that. He is a husband, a father, and someone who pushes others to aspire for more. Erik Weihenmayer took the time to connect with our AFB


Prepared for My Job Interview: A Mildly-Awkward Poem Filled with Resources for Job Candidates Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Prepared for My Job Interview Put my best foot forward, that's what I'll do. All eyes on me, it's my interview. I'll be prepared; I'll be ready to go. See, here's what I've done and know: I've researched the company inside and out. I know how to give a first-rate first impression, no doubt.


Back to the Basics: The Art of Reciprocating Support and Favors As a Professional Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Last Friday my husband had a dinner function at work. He had asked me to accompany him, and I was eager to attend. We scheduled a babysitter two weeks in advance—Friday morning arrived, and that sitter was sick. I called two back-up sitters, with no luck. At this point the only way I could attend was enlisting the help of a friend. I called my friend who selflessly accommodated my last-minute request to watch our two preschool daughters. I called my husband to tell him our friends would watch the girls and I would be his date after all. His response: "Great! I'll pick them up a bottle of wine on the way home." Um. Wow. My husband was


Recipe for Success: The Secret Ingredient to a Compelling Cover Letter

You know the necessary ingredients for creating a cover letter: 1-3 Clean and sturdy white sheets of paper (if your cover letter will be printed) Internet and telephone for research purposes Professional words and tone You know the recipe for creating a suitable cover letter: Step 1: Find out who the recipient of your cover letter will be, and address the letter to the individual by name. Step 2: Do your homework on the workplace and open position. State how your skills and experiences will complement the workplace and fill the gaps the


Pay Periods, Withholdings, and Deductions, Oh My! A Tool for Teaching Basic Tax Information to Teens with Visual Impairments

The 2015 tax season is upon us. I can't think of a better time of year to begin teaching tax terms and principles to your students, teens, or consumers who are blind or visually impaired. As April 15th draws near, all will hear the related buzz words: taxes, tax day, tax refund, withholdings, and deductions. Give your students the gift of being in-the-know, while preparing them for their first of many contributions to Uncle Sam: the first paycheck. Saving you time and energy, we have written the lesson plan for you. Check out CareerConnect's


When to Say “No” at Work As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I read an article this week regarding the importance of saying “No.” Yikes, guilty as charged, over here. I don’t know about you, but too often I give an instant yes, and slowly grow resentful. I feel resentful that I was even asked to perform such an “enormous favor” for a friend or acquaintance. In actuality, I should feel irritated at myself for saying “Yes”, when I really wanted to say “No.” It’s a “passive person” problem, and I’m over it. I’ve got the book Boundaries on my nightstand, and this year is all about healthy, assertive communication. But, when is it acceptable to say “No” at work?


Counting Down to Graduation: February: Finding the Right Job, Part 2

Question: Is there anyone who can give me advice about finding the right job for me? So you’ve started your career search, but you want something more than numbers and stories. Why not connect with a mentor? Why not try networking?! Networking is an excellent way to open up new opportunities, but it can also help you figure out if the career you are interested in is really what you had in mind. Sometimes the best way to learn about a career is to talk to someone who is currently working in that field. This is where having a mentor comes in handy. Mentors have firsthand knowledge of what it takes


Our Stories Interview with Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs – Constituent Relations for Walmart and Blind, Russell Shaffer

The work of our team at the AFB CareerConnect Program at the American Foundation for the Blind allows us to bring you such great stories about our top notch AFB CareerConnect e-Mentors, and the latest story is no different. The Our Stories Section is packed with inspirational and educational success stories about our mentors and friends who are blind or visually impaired. The latest story is the "Interview With


Person-Centered Planning, the Ideal Route to Discover Meaningful Employment for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired with Multiple Disabilities

When I think about my time as a transition specialist at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend, my mind wanders to the most empowering story. I think about a young man, I'll call him Jay to protect his privacy, who was smiley and kind; a man of few words. Jay was a teenager at the time, is totally blind, and has a significant intellectual disability. Jay's mom and I held a meeting, formally called a Person-Centered Planning meeting, with Jay and many of his teachers and specialists to discuss his strengths, interests, abilities, and aptitudes. We worked together to create vocational goals, as it was clear Jay would benefit from and enjoy part-time, straightforward work. We hoped to find a work experience that would prepare him for adult work and one that would be a meaningful social


Preliminary Skills for Successful Employment for People with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities

If you are working with an individual who is blind or visually impaired with additional, significant disabilities, you may wonder how you can help prepare him or her for successful employment. This blog post is for you. Classroom teachers, rehabilitation specialists, transition specialists, mothers, and fathers, please utilize this list of general skills and experiences as a guide to fostering the aptitudes and proficiencies your child or consumer will use as a foundation for work. Preliminary Skills and Experiences for Successful Employment Social Competencies Friendly disposition through


Employment Options for People with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities

Are you searching for work opportunities for yourself, a family member, or friend who is blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities? It’s not easy to uncover, sort through, and review work prospects for people with severe disabilities who require life-long support. I want to provide a brief synopsis of typical work possibilities for this population, and touch on the benefits and drawbacks of each. Sheltered Workshops: The purpose of a sheltered workshop is to provide employment for individuals with multiple disabilities. The individuals are tasked with specific job duties, almost always repetitive physical


Counting Down to Graduation: February, Finding the Right Job

Question: How do you find the right job? It seems as if I have been in school for forever. I have had math, science, literature classes, you name it, but I haven’t had a class that taught me what I was supposed to do after I move my tassel from right to left. So how am I supposed to prepare myself for getting a job after graduation if I don’t know what the right job is for me? I have a clear understanding of the different options available to me, but I am still unsure of what specific job I should pursue. This is all too common for any student after graduation, but my time at


Yes, It’s Only January but Get Ready to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act This July!

This post comes to AFB CareerConnect from one of our talented and enthusiastic mentors, Katherine Schneider. Twenty-five years. Not all that long ago, but access has really improved in many ways for the 19% of us who have disabilities because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is still a work in progress and involves much negotiating for access in many situations. But, perhaps, you’re someone who’s benefitted over the years from some of the following accommodations:


Counting Down to Graduation: January, Understanding Your Options

Question: What are your personal goals? Can you believe it is 2015? I can’t. To be honest, I thought this year would never come, but I’m glad it did. Like many other students out there, I am graduating in just a few short months, and I couldn’t be happier! Whether you have a plan set in stone or don’t quite know what you are doing, graduation is an exciting and stressful time. Many students will ask themselves, “What am I supposed to do next?” It is important to weigh your options. Although there are many to consider, the most common options are either finding a job or furthering your education. By now, you


National Mentoring Month: Importance of Mentors for Those Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

AFB CareerConnect(r) applauds a telling survey recently conducted by the National Mentoring Partnership which, according to their report, finds that one in three young people reach adulthood without ever receiving help or support from a mentor. This compelling report, The Mentoring Effect, "is the first-ever nationally representative survey of young people on the topic of both informal and formal mentoring.” Simply put, it finds that “youth with mentors experience [greater] significant positive outcomes” than those who do not receive mentoring. Being that CareerConnect, the career education and


Job Carving: Creating a Job for a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired with Multiple Disabilities

A person who is blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities has…wait, hold up. I'm not fond of the term "multiple disabilities". People should not be defined by any "dis-" or any list of inabilities, but should instead be defined by who they are and secondarily by what they do offer the world. To my knowledge a better term for "multiple disabilities" does not exist, but know that I am not looking through the lens of "people with multiple inabilities", but people with unique circumstances and non-standard abilities. Ok, let's continue. People who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities,


Cooking Without Looking Boot Camp for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

You’ve been reading on AFB CareerConnect about the Cooking Without Looking TV Show; now you have an opportunity to attend the Cooking Without Looking Boot Camp in conjunction with the Florida International University (FIU) School of Hospitality. This course will be taught by Cooking Without Looking’s blind chef, Don White. This is an FIU course, which includes specialized tips and


Job Accommodations for People with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities

The value of successful employment should not be underestimated for a person who is blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities.Successful employment, whether volunteer or paid, provides opportunities to engage in meaningful, structured activities outside of the home; offers opportunities to increase social interactions and foster relationships; and provides opportunities for personal and professional growth. All of which contribute to a positive self-concept and a satisfying, emotionally-healthy life; a goal we all strive to attain. There are certainly barriers to employment when you, your family member, or consumer is blind or


Receiving Vision Rehabilitation Services When You Live in a Rural Community for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Desiring the content of the AFB CareerConnect blog to be relevant and useful, I recently asked a group of adults with visual impairments for their career-related concerns and questions. The first question that caught my attention was from Andrew; "How can a person who is blind or visually impaired get training if there is no local support?" This is an important question, Andrew. Please hear my response that is intended for all people who are blind or visually impaired living in rural communities First, don't assume there are no vision rehabilitation services in your area. When I worked as a transition specialist with the


Losing Vision and the Fear of Losing Work As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

My dear friend has Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and is losing her vision. Today she received word that, due to blindness, she is losing her driver's license on January 5, 2015. She is very concerned about her future, particularly her future at work. Maybe hers is a story you know well and identify with. If so, my heart is saddened for your loss of sight. I can't fully comprehend it or understand it; I'd be lying if I said I did. However, I care. I care deeply. I have assembled information and resources to assist you in the process of transitioning and coping with vision loss.


New Year's Resolutions: Considerations for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

It's December. There's no shortage of holiday party invitations strewn around my house. Not because we're wildly popular, but because the military has a number of traditional holiday gatherings. It's a busy, hustle-and-bustle month I appreciate, and yet I look forward to the unruffled and uncomplicated month of January. It's hard to believe 2014 is nearly behind us and the new year is right around the corner. You know what that means! While I'm not one to establish official New Years' Resolutions, I am one to take full advantage of the renewed energy I organically attain come January 1. Who's with me? Let's channel the


Looking Back on Our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect for Job Seekers and Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If you didn't stay up with all of the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect with tips and advice for job seekers who are blind or visually impaired, I wanted to take the time to provide you with a little ESPN Sports Center highlight reel of our own. Each day provided you with new tips, advice, and links to resources that could help with your preparation for employment or that next position. Let us know what you thought about the series and the posts. 12. On the Twelfth Day of AFB CareerConnect, we posted this post from Katy Lewis,


The First Day of AFB CareerConnect: 1 Inspiring Series of Our Stories About Successful People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

In continuing our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect countdown with the First Day of AFB CareerConnect with a dollop of inspiring stories. Here is a riddle just for you. What one thing comes from the north and the south, has eight eyes (but only six of them work), sixteen extremities, four great minds that work in unison ,yet separately, and shares one successful, independent existence? Give up? To learn about one inspiring story head over to AFB CareerConnect’s series on Cooking Without


The Second Day of AFB CareerConnect: 2 Ways to Connect with a Mentor Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

As the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect continues with the second day of tips and advice. With the holidays quickly approaching, everyone is excited to spend time with their friends and family, but don’t forget to make time for your mentors. Mentors often play a bigger role in a job seeker’s life than they realize. It is important to thank your mentors for offering their guidance and knowledge of the field. It is even more important to maintain these relationships as we enter into the New Year. Having a mentor can make all of the difference when looking for a new job, but how do you connect with a


The Third Day of AFB CareerConnect: 3 Free Resources for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Can you believe it? Our holiday countdown is almost over, but don’t worry, we aren’t finished spreading holiday cheer! AFB CareerConnect has provided helpful advice, tips, and ways to improve your job search and work-life, but we haven’t given out any presents! So as we continue to celebrate the 12 Days to Christmas, the holiday season, and the New Year, here are a few free resources just for you from AFB CareerConnect! Job Seeker’s Toolkit. This gift is perfect for any job seeker!


The Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 4 Tips on Disclosing Your Disability to an Employer As a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

The Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect brings us to talking about disclosing your disability. I am quite passionate about this topic and get to speak about it around the United States with youth, adults, and employers. I wanted to take the time to provide four tips specific to the subject to continue our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect. We have covered job search tips, resumés, volunteering, inspiring stories, and much more. Here are a few tips and advice that could help you in the disclosure process. 4 Tips on Disclosing Your Disability as a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Has Low Vision 4. Take the time to think about how


The Fifth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 5 Ways to Turn Volunteer Work into Job Experience for Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

For the fifth day of AFB CareerConnect, we wanted to bring you five ways to turn volunteer work into job experience. The fact is that volunteer experience is important regardless of whether you are employed. But, for those looking for employment, volunteer experience gives a person the opportunity to keep his or her résumécurrent. Besides keeping your résumé current, volunteering offers experience in developing references and connections. Review our tips and advice below on turning volunteer experience into job experience: 5. Treat volunteering like a job, and make the most of your time volunteering. Volunteering can be an


The Sixth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 6 Ways to Relieve or Manage Work-Related Stress As a Worker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

As we continue the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect with our sixth day, we felt addressing stress was appropriate with the holiday season upon us. Depending on your work, you might deal with deadlines, coworker absences, floods of customers, increased hours, frustrated consumers, or stress on your own personal budget. Every worker faces stress on the job at one point or another. You could be working in an office or in fast food, but all jobs have instances of stress. Successful workers typically know how to handle stress in a healthy manner, and I am not talking about hitting your computer or cash register with


The Seventh Day of AFB CareerConnect: 7 Ways to Get Organized As a Worker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

As we continue our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect with our seventh day, I wanted to bring you some new tips and advice on staying organized. During this busy holiday season, it is easy to create clutter in your work space, get behind on projects, and become overwhelmed. Check out how these seven organizational tips can help increase productivity and reduce frustration at work and in life. 7. Keep on top of your filing system: Whether you are using an electronic folder system or a paper filing system, it is important to keep the folder titles straightforward. Common


The Eighth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 8 Thoughts and Considerations on Job Accommodations for Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

For the eighth day of AFB CareerConnect's 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect countdown of great tips and advice, I will be providing you with eight thoughts and considerations on employment accommodations for workers who are blind or visually impaired. As I travel around the United States providing workshops for youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired or professionals, this topic comes up a lot. So, here is a little holiday gift for you: Eight Thoughts and Considerations on Job Accommodations 8. Knowing your own accommodations or possible accommodations: The fact is you should have a good idea about your possible accommodations for work. You


The Ninth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 9 Ways to Wow an Interviewer As a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

As we continue the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect with our ninth day. The ninth day brings you our 9 Ways to Wow an Interviewer. You have read about getting a resume ready, and it is time to wow an interviewer with 9 great tips and a few resources. 9 Ways to Wow an Interviewer 9. Connect with current and past employees from the organization, and be prepared to ask appropriate questions about the organization. With past employees, be aware that information might not be current or accurate (depending on why and when they left the organization). 8. Create a connection with the interviewer. Listen to the


The Tenth Day of AFB CareerConnect: 10 Ways to Improve a Resumé As a Job Seeker Who Is Blind

Continuing with our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect theme, in keeping with the "12 Days of Christmas;" we are providing you with the tenth day. We prefer the 12 Days to Christmas, the holiday season, and the New Year. Here is our tenth day with tips and advice around getting your resumé developed, polished, and ready to submit. 10 Ways to Improve a Resumé 10. Always use a legible, professional typeface (font), no cursive or curly-q’s trying to be fancy and keep to a standard length. 9. If you are new to the workforce a one-page resumé is normal. Keep formatting consistent and make


The Eleventh Day of AFB CareerConnect: 11 Profiles of Successful People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

We continue the countdown of the 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect, like the 12 Days of Christmas, but with our CareerConnect spin on the countdown. Here is the eleventh day of AFB CareerConnect. Are you still unsure of what career is right for you? Check out these eleven popular real life stories about the professions of CareerConnect mentors! Maybe one of them will give you an itch to learn more. Just click on the job title and off you go! 11 Mentors Profiled on AFB CareerConnect 11.


12 Days of AFB CareerConnect Tips and Advice for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Most people are familiar with the song, the Twelve Days of Christmas, but what about twelve days of AFB CareerConnect? Give yourself the gift of being better prepared to get a great job by taking some time this holiday season to brush up on your career resource skills as we countdown to Christmas, the New Year, and the holiday season with a refresher on some of our past tips and advice. We will be posting 12 blog posts up until Christmas. The fact is that the job search is not over during the holiday season. As employers are still looking to fill positions and make decisions. Utilize our 12


Holiday Travel Ideas and Tips for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

After working diligently all year, it's quite refreshing to pause during the holiday season and enjoy a hard-earned vacation. Do you prefer the convenience of a cruise, the cost effectiveness of exploring a nearby city, or the enjoyment of visiting family? Whichever you prefer, review these holiday travel ideas and tips for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. If traveling solo or with other non-drivers, search for destinations that offer a variety of appealing experiences within walking distance, a phenomenal public transportation system, or affordable taxi rides. If the idea of traveling with a group is attractive and not off-putting, browse tour


Where Are They Now? Larry Johnson, Author and Presenter Extraordinaire Who is Blind

Remember Larry Johnson from his Our Stories profile? Last time AFB CareerConnect talked with Larry, he told us about his work as a disc jockey, human resources manager, author, and more! But what has Larry been up to recently? Aside from being an accomplished writer, Larry is still active in presentations and workshops. He was the recent keynote speaker at the state convention of the American Council of the Blind of Texas, and he just


The Gift-Giving Guide for a Career-Minded Recipient Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

'Tis the season for frosty weather, hot cocoa, and gift giving. Maybe you appreciate the frosty weather, adore the hot cocoa, but are anxious about shopping? Do you feel clueless as to what to purchase for your career-minded son or daughter, sibling, spouse, friend, neighbor, or colleague with a visual impairment? It's time to relax; I've done the thinking for you, which means you can spend more time sipping cocoa by the fireplace. Oh, one more thing. While the gift recipient does have a visual impairment, remember he or she is first a person. And people


The Exceptional Nurse Book Highlights Nurses with Disabilities and Visual Impairment

Exceptional nurses go out of their way to provide excellent care for their patients no matter the personal hurdles they must overcome. Whether that hurdle is a physical or mental disability, these nurses have found ways to conquer the odds and continue to provide the best care possible to those in need. In Donna Carol Maheady’s new book, The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities, readers learn of nurses who overcame


Attention, Employers—This Is Employment Discrimination: "Do you have a driver's license?"

Recently, I have been hearing from state vocational rehabilitation counselors, job seekers, and noticed this myself employers are using job descriptions and online application systems with a question similar to this: "Do you have a valid state driver's license?" This question could be introductory or listed as an "Additional Requirement" even when driving is not an essential job duty or task specific to the job. The tricky part is that this question is most likely filtering out applicants who say "no" to the question. What are job seekers who are blind or visually impaired supposed to do? Well, it leaves answering "no" to the question or lying by stating


Aaron Preece, Lessons From Employment Experience at the American Foundation for the Blind

Finding a job or selecting a career path can be a difficult challenge, but job seekers who are blind or visually impaired should not be discouraged. Anyone who is willing to work hard, find available opportunities, and make connections will achieve success. Although it may seem impossible at the time, it is important to remember that there are many other people just like you that have found career success. Internships Internships are an excellent way to gain work experience and make connections. They allow students to gain hands-on experience by working with professionals and provide students a chance to determine which line of work is best for


Providing "Mad Props," Resources, and Thanks to Our Veterans on Veterans Day

The American Foundation for the Blind and AFB CareerConnect appreciate the sacrifice of our veterans on this day and each day. We wanted to take the time to say thank you and let you know about some veteran specific information. AFB's VisionAware offers a great resource for veterans and their families, as veterans could lose vision later in life or experience vision loss from incidents during military action. Our family of websites offers resources and these VisionAware resources developed around the adjustment


Geared Up for the Fall CSAVR and NCSAB Conferences in Miami

I am making preparations for the 2014 Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and the National Council of State Administrators for the Blind (NCSAB) conferences in Miami. No, I am not packing my bathing suit and sunscreen; I am packing my suits, hats, white canes, and my game plan for the week. I am looking forward to connecting with people from different states and creating new connections for future partnerships, workshops, and lines for dissemination of resources. I love getting the inside scoop on the new innovative programming coming out of the states,


AFB CareerConnect® Launches a Halloween Treat: Using AccessWorld® Magazine As a Transition Tool

By now I hope all of you are aware of Lesson Plans for Teachers and Professionals, a special offering from AFB CareerConnect(r). Our newest consultant, Alicia Wolfe, a lead teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) from Pinellas County, Florida, created a Halloween treat that you will not want to miss. No, there are no ghosts or goblins haunting this offering. Rather, Alicia has developed a series of lesson plans on how to use the popular online technology magazine,


Getting Empowered with My Top 12 Job Search Tips As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

AFB CareerConnect(r) has been using the Department of Labor's Office on Disability Employment Policy's theme of "Expect, Employ, Empower" to help celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. As we near the end of the month, I wanted to leave you with my top 12 tips to empower your job search as an individual who is blind or visually impaired. Let's get empowered! Here are my top 12 job search tips straight from Huntington, West Virginia. 12. Get your resume up to par. This might involve having professionals in your field review it,


National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme: Employ

Happy National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! As we continue to celebrate NDEAM, it is important to review the second element of this year’s theme, “Expect. Employ. Empower.” A huge part of why we have NDEAM is because of those employers that provide jobs and those employees who work hard to get hired. After searching through CareerConnect’s Career Clusters, deciding on a career path that is right for you, and seeking advice from mentors online, it is important to put those resources to work. But what if you are worried about your job interview? Or if you aren’t sure how to disclose your


A Salute to Our CareerConnect Mentors: Disability Mentoring Day

I am currently in Northern California, spreading the message of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). I have a meeting with staff from Lighthouse for the Blind-San Francisco this week, and I am speaking at the California School for the Blind, Cupertino schools, and San Francisco State University. As I make the rounds out here, I am also making time to connect with CareerConnect mentors, AFB contacts, and other impressive people who are blind or visually impaired. I am always preaching the importance of having mentors who are blind or visually impaired and mentors who are not. I want to take this time to salute the CareerConnect mentors who volunteer to respond to queries, questions, and surveys for our program. I know for a fact that they are making a


Where Are They Now? Becka deHaan, Award Winning Recording Artist Who is Blind

Have you ever wondered what happened to the AFB CareerConnect mentors from the Our Stories section? After being gainfully employed and achieving success in the field, what is next for these individuals? Simple, more success! With AFB CareerConnect's new Where Are They Now series, you can catch up with all of your favorite mentors and see what they have been working on. The first mentor AFB CareerConnect checked in on was recording and performing


ODEP's 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

It is finally October which means it is officially National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! This year's theme, decided by the United States Department of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, is "Expect. Employ. Empower," and each week CareerConnect is breaking down these elements and providing free resources for job seekers who are blind or visually impaired. This week we are focusing on "Expect." According to Kathy Martinez, the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, this year's theme is about much more than just hiring. "It's about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step in this continuum is


Eyes On Success Hosts Profile Successful People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired and Much More

This is a blog post written by the hosts Peter and Nancy Torpey. Eyes On Success is a weekly, half-hour radio show/podcast that covers a wide range of topics of interest to the visually impaired. In the growing archive of over 200 episodes, one can find shows on new products and technologies, interviews with leaders in the blindness community, as well as human interest stories of visually impaired individuals with rewarding professional careers and fun hobbies. The hosts and producers of the show are both retired research scientists with doctorates in physics.


Bridges From School to Work — Philly Brings You Interview Tips for Teens with Disabilities

During the summer, I had the great opportunity to visit the Marriott Bridges From School to Work location in Philadelphia and meet with the enthusiastic and bright staff there. Bridges from School to Work engages employers, schools, community resources, youth, and their families to help businesses meet their workforce needs while offering young people with disabilities the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed through employment. I believe Bridges does an amazing job preparing youth for employment and creating partnerships with employers. The organization's success rate is top notch because the staff really investigate


Interviewing Tips: WOW the Interviewer by Asking the Right Questions As a Candidate Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

The ball has been in the interviewer’s court up until this critical minute. He’s probed, prodded, and pried his way into finding out what he needs to know about you. His priority has been recognizing the training, experiences, and personality traits that make you a good fit, or lack thereof, for the position. The tables have turned. You’re asked, “Now, do you have any questions for me?” Here’s your chance to let the interviewer know you care where you work. You’re not desperate. You have your options, and you’re contemplating the best fit for you. Asking the right questions can also help the interviewer understand you’re looking for a team to join


Find Resources, Tips, and Updates Related to Blindness, Visual Impairment, and Employment in Our Newsletter

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) CareerConnect staff is excited to unveil the new CareerConnect Newsletter! This newsletter will provide information about updates or changes to the program, introduce new staff or volunteers, share helpful tips, offer options for becoming more engaged in mentoring or the use of the program, and give a peek behind the scenes at AFB’s efforts to expand employment possibilities for people with vision loss. The team has been working hard on this newsletter, and we will be bringing this to you quarterly. Stay tuned to all of the latest news about our program and new resources for job seekers who are


The 10th Annual Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law Feature Story: Jack Chen, Google Patent Attorney & Legally Blind

AFB CareerConnect's latest Our Stories piece is part of the Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law. Each year, a feature is done on an outstanding mentor and individual who is blind or visually impaired and working in the field of law. CareerConnect's Our Stories section highlights the success stories of those who are excelling in their professions. The section is packed with over a hundred pieces and organized for ease of navigation so you can learn about the employment paths and life adventures of these outstanding individuals. Having been an inventor at heart since childhood,


Interviewing Tips: The Best Response to "What Is Your Greatest Weakness?" for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

So, you've been asked to interview for a positionthis is good; no, excellent. As you sit in the chilly room, on the hard, wooden chair, you're asked the dreaded question, "What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?" You feel the perceived spotlight flushing your cheeks. Your strengths, that's relatively easy. You describe your skills and experiences that make you the perfect fit for the job. Your weaknessthat question's just not fair! I know, I know. It sounds like you're being asked, "Now, tell us why we shouldn't hire you." But instead of interpreting the question in that regard and airing all your


The Secrets to Turning Your Volunteer Job into Paid Work for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Have you heeded the insights of The Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job-Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired? Did you Find a Volunteer Position that Is a Good Match for You? Good. Now you're volunteering and you like the people, you like the work, you like the cause. Wonderful. Have you considered the possibility of turning your volunteer


Interviewing Tips: How to Make a First-Rate First Impression As a Candidate Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I'm thinking about the job interviews of my youth and I can't help but smile bashfully. I'm certain my interviewing skills could have used a bit of polish. The information in this blog series is that polish. Read it and apply liberally. I want you to know that I still don't have all the answers. I am, however, not afraid to ask those who do have far more than I. That's where my brother-in-law, Jonathan Kitts, comes in. He's a manager who regularly interviews and hires employees. I asked him to share his interviewing experiences with me, providing insight into making an excellent first impression at a job interview. He obliged with


Finding Volunteer Positions As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Did you read the 8 Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job Seekers Who are Blind or Visually Impaired? Did you find yourself saying, "Shannon" (I'm glad you said Shannon, because we're on a first-name basis), "I like the idea of volunteering, but what kind of volunteer position should I get? How do I get a volunteer position?" I'm glad you asked. This blog post is for you. Read through these helpful tips on finding a volunteer position; it's la carte (just like a pick-and-choose hot lunch in


Do Your Coworkers a Favor: Avoid These 6 Common Workplace Annoyances; This Is Not a Blind Thing!

Bad breath. Work environments involve prime breath-smelling distance with coworkers and clients on a daily basis. I've come to understand two primary causes of smelly breath: poor oral hygiene and eating halitosis-inducing foods. Make sure to practice good oral hygiene. I'm going to assume you brush your teeth twice daily and visit the dentist every 6-12 months, and I'm also going to assume you're a lot like me and forget to floss more than you'd care to admit. Let's both prioritize nightly flossing. As for food, I'd suggest skipping garlic and onions in work-day breakfasts and


8 Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Maybe you are among the vast numbers of individuals who are blind or visually impaired who would like to work, but have been unable to find or retain a full-time job. Don't despair. There is something you can do while you searchsomething that will benefit your community (on behalf of those folks, I personally thank you for giving of your time and talents) and you. Read on to learn 8 work-related benefits of volunteering. Obtaining a volunteer position in a career field of interest can help you to qualify for a desired job. For example, if you are looking to work as a child care provider, you may seek a volunteer


Interview with Christine Ha, Visually Impaired, New York Times Best Selling Author, Chef, Writer, and TV Show Co-Host

Over the past two years, you have seen a number of posts from me about the talented and amazing Christine Ha, winner of the FOX Network's MasterChef Season 3, New York Times bestselling author, and co-host of "Four Senses." Well, I have wanted to give you an update for a while now. I took the opportunity to ask her when seeing her in-person at the Helen Keller Achievement Awards this past June. Christine is busy preparing for the start of season 2 of her show, "Four Senses," which is a television show in Canada. I hope this show gets picked up in the United States in the near future. When I first connected with Christine, MasterChef Season 3 was only a few weeks in. I felt


Let’s Paws to Reflect: Dog Guide Use in the Employment Process

If you are using screen-reading software, you might have missed a phenomenal pun. Note the canine "P-A-W-S" as a replacement for "P-A-U-S-E." Tell me I'm not the only one smiling! Now on to business… You are on the hunt for a stellar job, or already have a (phenomenal, mediocre, or highly-unfavorable-but-you're-keeping-it) position. Now you are considering a dog guide as an orientation and mobility tool. How well do the two merge: full-time work and a guide dog? I personally have never used a guide dog as a mobility aid; I only have textbook answers. But I'm going to do you a favor and refrain from boring you with


Vanda Pharmaceuticals on Working from Home or Self-Employment for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Recently, I have been contacted by a lot of job seekers interested in working from home or self-employment. I have written about these topics a number of times in the past, so I will review and link to my past posts about these topics. The topic of working from home has been highlighted a bit more because many people who are blind deal with the condition Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, or Non-24, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., has developed a treatment for the disorder. I was asked to do a podcast for them specific to the impact of Non-24 on employment and some considerations for those impacted. The fact is that I have a lot of friends who battle with this


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

I am sitting on the Shinkansen, or bullet train, for a three-and-a-half-hour journey from Tokyo to Misawa after a three-month stint in America. I’ve lived in Japan for two years, and after a mere three months away, I am surprisingly experiencing culture shock once again as I travel home (very jet-lagged, but that’s off topic). Across the front screen of the train, kanji characters are scrolling by, which I assume announce each stop. I don’t read kanji. It’s unfamiliar and my lack of knowledge of the writing system puts me on edge. Will I miss my stop? Other questions running through my mind as I settle back to Japan: When I ask culture-related questions, am I insulting Japanese persons? How different are we? How can we relate? I cannot tell you how helpful it would be


A Visit to the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired's Joseph Kohn Training Center, and a Few Mentors

I did a teen employment workshop recently in New Brunswick, NJ at the Joseph Kohn Training Center, which is the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired's vocational rehabilitation training center. I happened to work there for a little while right after graduate school as an orientation and mobility instructor with other duties as "Joe lobbied for." I say that because I was always asking for new responsibilities or to try out new ideas. I arrived in New Brunswick, New Jersey to do a three-hour teen employment workshop for 21 young people who are blind or visually impaired from around the State of New Jersey. I arrived early in


Look Out Davey Crockett, AFB's Crew Is Heading to San Antonio, TX for the 2014 AER International Conference

The Alamo and the Spurs should watch out, as AFB is all set to take San Antonio by storm. I am packing up and preparing for my presentations at the 2014 AER International Conference in San Antonio, Texas. A number of AFB staff will be rolling out to the conference. I am looking forward to the networking, resources, and visiting with friends. I hope to see Amy Guerette (FSU), Dave Henzy (UTSA), Pat Leader (AER), Mickey Damelio (FSU), Sandra Lewis (FSU), Kitty Greeley (FSU), Annie Gallagher (Vanda), my NJ friends (Pura), the AFB Family, the AER staff, my friends from around the United States, and all of you!


Professional Development and Workshops for Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

I am packing up my stuff to head to Maine for a few days of work. I will be doing a session with the professionals up there on transition-related topics, as well as conducting a teen employment workshop and a post-secondary preparation session for youth. I will also participate on some panels. I value getting the opportunity to work with the professionals and youth there. I have now conducted something like 47 teen employment workshops around the United States that reached well over a thousand youth. The workshops have specific components, but they vary a bit by the population and audience needs. As a


How to Beat Work-Related Stress When You Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If you are an adult, think back to the time in childhood when the idea of working to support yourself seemed novel and fun. You could live on your own, come and go as you please, or eat what you like (maybe that was just my dream, as we were a health food household, and I just wanted Cookie Crisps!). Enter the real world. There is such a thing, John Mayer. It's not quite what we had in mind, huh? Sure, we can live on our own, come and go as we please (well, my two preschool daughters make this complicated), and eat what we want (wouldn't you know it, I eat healthy now, too). There is, however, much more to the real world.


The Sweet Smell of Success for Blind Entrepreneur Gerry Leary

I recently read an article praising Gerry Leary for perfecting the roasting of coffee. I was intrigued; my husband and I roast our own coffee. The article explained that Gerry has no vision, and relies on his sense of smell and hearing, in addition to a talking thermometer, to perfect the roasting process. I continued to read. This man owns his own cafe. I was inspired; an entrepreneur and expert roaster. I wondered if he would talk with me a few minutes and give us his story. I sent him an e-mail and held my breath. Gerry spoke with me for an hour. I laughed; I teared up; I learned. He told me how


A Valuable Lesson from Syed Hassan, AFB's Web Intern

I am not the most tech-savvy person in the world. I try my best to keep up-to-date on technology and to fix any problems that come up, but I don't handle it well when it doesn't work out. I usually end up getting into a duel of wits with my computer. Unfortunately, the computer always wins. After I admitted defeat this last time, I found CareerConnect's newest Our Stories piece about Syed Hassan. Syed is a computer science major and a Web intern


What Happens In Las Vegas, Doesn't Stay in Las Vegas: Heading to 2014 ACB Convention

I was able to go and speak at the 2014 NFB Convention in Orlando, Florida, but I wasn't able to make it back to the convention after some storms cancelled my flights. Lee Huffman (AccessWorld), Paul Schroeder (VP of Programs and Policy), Carl Augusto (CEO), and Mark Richert (Policy Ninja) are preparing to head out for the 2014 ACB Convention in Las Vegas. I will attempt to come back with my money and belongings (I joke!). We are excited to see all of the new products in the exhibit hall and network with our friends from around the United States. I know Lee Huffman will be checking out the


How to Improve Your Job Performance As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

While social skills play an enormous role in maintaining and advancing employment, no extent of strong social skills can retain you if your job performance is sorely inadequate. What job tasks are you paid to perform? Perform them to the best of your ability. This is accomplished by remaining current in your field, providing accurate and quality work, and efficiently completing tasks. Remain current in your field by acquiring up-to-date research and skills. You can attend relevant conferences or workshops; subscribe to pertinent newsletters, magazines, publications, and journals; network


What a Long Strange Trip It Was: The Importance of Getting Back to Basics

Yes, I did just reference the Grateful Dead in the title of this post, as I am definitely a fan. I wrote a post recently about how I use my iPhone and apps in many aspects of my life. I was using it last night to take notes on a project that I was reading through on my computer, while sitting on a bed with technology on my lap and all around me. Picture a guy with ear buds running to two different devices at all times. That's pretty much how I spend most of my life. I was traveling to a meeting the other day


Celebrate Independence Day: Accept Invitations to Work-Related Events Without Stress

Are you somebody who dreads getting an invitation to a work party? Almost all jobs are positions held on a team. It is in the best interest of the entire team to be cohesive and unified. Whenever possible, participate in team-building activities and outings to encourage team unity. If invited to a holiday party or recreational get-together, choose to be a participating member. Your superiors will appreciate your effort and you may find your job satisfaction increasing when you take time to get to know your colleagues. Additionally, view these activities as opportunities to enhance your network relationships and demonstrate your loyalty the


Rolling Out Dapper to NFB Employment Day and AFB Breakfast at the 2014 NFB Convention in Orlando!

First of all, happy birthday to Helen Keller! She is an inspiration to us all. I am looking forward to speaking at the NFB Employment Day at the 2014 NFB Convention in Orlando. I feel really lucky to be included in the agenda for the day. I will be speaking a bit about the new developments in AFB CareerConnect, and I will also be addressing some of the recent changes in legislation that impact the employment of persons with disabilities and more specifically people who are blind or visually impaired. There will be many great speakers on employment during the morning at


Research for Employment Means a lot of Homework for Job Seekers Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

In the past, I have done a post about doing your research on your prospective employers. I am a bit of a "geek" and I want to know as much as possible. I probably ask too many questions and spend too much time learning about employers and clients. I think back to when I was applying for my initial job at AFB. They asked for a few sample presentations and pieces of writing. I sent way more than requested. I made sure to know the different aspects of the program, and I reached out to former employees of the organization for insight into the organization. I wanted to make sure I knew the culture and values of the organization. I can tell you my initial


Accessible iPhone Apps That Help Me Manage Work, Life, and Travel As a Blind Professional

I wanted to take the time to write a little bit about how my iPhone allows me more access. I could say to my life, work, but it is so much more than that. I know my wife might argue that I am a bit too much in love with my iPhone, but it provides access through one device that fits in my pocket like I didn't have prior. You might say this post is five years too late, but the fact is the apps and access has changed since that point. I know many people who are blind would agree with me or provide their own insight into the access created. I use Voiceover on my iPhone, and I truthfully wish I could increase the verbosity of it past the current high end. Apple, if


Why Do You Work for AFB?

Are you blind? No, sir; I am not. Oh... Why are you working at AFB then? Believe it or not, this is the most popular question I have been asked during my internship, but I still dont have a simple answer for it. My name is Katy Lewis, and I will be a senior at Marshall University in the fall. I am majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing and history, and I am an intern for the American Foundation for the Blinds (AFB) CareerConnect(r) program. I am not blind or visually impaired. But just because I am not blind, however, does not mean that I am not affected


Insight into Extraordinary Leadership for Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Whether you jump into a leadership role as an entrepreneur, progress in your career field and begin supervising, or simply desire to work for a phenomenal leader, it is beneficial to become well-acquainted with the makings of an extraordinary leader. Strong leadership requires many abilities and strengths acquired through experience and education. One can gather information on managing people, making decisions, inspiring a team, delegating tasks, communicating effectively, and using a sense of humor. Here's the crux: The motivation to execute the above-mentioned skills matters. As a leader, will you be motivated for personal success or for the team's success? Those whom you manage, supervise, or lead will notice and perform accordingly. I have read and


How to Improve Your Organizational Skills on the Job As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

In order to increase productivity, efficiency, and accuracy, as well as reduce frustration on the job, your work space and time should be well organized. Consider the following tips and suggestions, implementing what would ease and streamline your workflow. Organize Your Workspace Remove unused and unnecessary supplies and tools from your desk or work space. De-cluttering your area can greatly simplify your work-life. Systematically file important electronic and hard-copy documents. This will reduce the amount of time you spend searching for papers, records, and files. It will also keep your desk and virtual desktop neat and accessible, while keeping any personal information out of others' sight. Use an organizer in your desk drawer. Make


They See, You Show, and You Share: Words That Equal Employment for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

As I like to say, "perception is reality." The fact is that anyone you meet for the first time will only know what they see, you show, and you share. It is up to you to sell yourself in a job interview or in your general interactions in life. You need to embrace and practice this throughout your life. I know I do, and I encourage this in all of the people who I provide workshops for and teach. These tips are from a person who is blind or visually impaired and aimed directly to professionals and all who are blind or visually impaired. They See You should be dressed appropriately, and I can tell you this is a huge issue. I am not Mr. "GQ," but I try my best to look good and appropriate. It doesn't take a lot of money to nice and professional. I give the example that


Knowledge From the Shark Tank: How to Be Unstoppable in the Workforce As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I just finished reading an article containing some of the smartest advice on advancement in the workforce. Yahoo Finance interviewed Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John, whose names you may recognize from ABC’s Shark Tank. For the record, I love that show. The two highly successful entrepreneurs were asked three questions. Allow me to present the questions and response-summaries to you. Glean on. How did you become untouchable? Barbara and Daymond’s responses reflect the importance of having a passion or drive to compel high-quality job-performance. They discuss what drives them to success. Barbara painfully remembers being labeled stupid while in school. She struggled with reading and writing, and consequently performed poorly in academics. She is driven to


Brandon Solomon, Young Man Who Is Legally Blind, Is Working It Out at a Friendly's Restaurant

During my travels for the AFB Teen Employment Workshop Series, I have the opportunity to meet with a lot of young people and the professionals who work with them. I provided a workshop at the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) in Baltimore during the month of April. The workshops are just one of the ways that AFB and the CareerConnect web program make a large impact around the United States.


Young National Champion Horseback Rider Who Is Legally Blind Brings It In Competition

AFB CareerConnect loves to share the accomplishments of people who are blind or visually impaired and this story is a wonderfully uncommon and individual success. Rachel Sanchez is a 16-year-old girl who became legally blind after being struck in the head by a bullet at age 5. In November, she won the United Professional Horsemen's Association Exceptional Challenge Cup at the American Royal National Championship in Kansas City. The horse Rachel Sanchez was riding at the time of her win is designated a CH, or champion horse. According to Cindy Howerton, an AFB staff member and expert rider herself, "American Saddlebreds win this designation by repeated wins at large, recognized, well-attended competitions. A win is generally worth one


What Does Your Facebook Profile Say About You As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired?

Suppose you are eager to land a new job and have recently applied for 10 interesting positions within your state. You are hopeful that the large net you cast will lead to at least one or two interviews. You smile as you think about your robust resume. You've got the credentials. Surely the employers will see the value you could bring to the companies. But what you don't know is the three employers who are prepared to interview you have visited your Facebook profile. What will they find? What does your Facebook profile say about you? Assume your Facebook profile is visible to the employers; will this extended resume portray you as aggressive, immature, arrogant, or full of complaints? View your profile through the eyes of a potential employer and delete or add


A Game Plan for Work-Related Success When You Happen to Have a Visual Impairment

I just had to say happen to have a visual impairment. While an important piece of you, we both know a visual impairment doesnt define you. I happen to think it makes you more interesting. What does an employer think of a visual impairment? Most employers dont know what to think and resort to feeling insecure. This is where you and your empathy come in very handy and why you should prepare to set your employer at ease. Dawn B. Golub wrote a Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) article highlighting a research-based model for a successful work experience for employees who are visually impaired. A seven-step module for


As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired, Is Your Communication Style Passive, Aggressive, or Assertive?

Do you find yourself getting walked over far too frequently? Do others see you as a doormat or pushover? Perhaps you're on the opposite end of the spectrum and you often demand your way. Maybe you don't quite know where you fit on the continuum. Situations arise daily involving the opportunity to assert one's concerns, rights, or desires. Examples include verbalizing a request, attempting to correct an error, giving an honest opinion, and saying "no" to a request. Three of the most common styles of communicating the above are: Assertive communication, which emphasizes being honest, direct, kind, and respectful. Passive communication, which downplays your desires and avoids disagreements or conflict. Aggressive communication, which makes demands and


How to Be an Effective Leader As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Braille Institute of America's former president, Les Stocker, asked his friend and world-renowned architect, Gin Wong, to name the single most important skill necessary to be effective in his field. Expecting to hear computer or design skills, Stocker was surprised to hear Wong's response: leadership skills. Wong emphasized the importance of a leader selling a concept. A leader casts a vision and assembles a team in order to accomplish what he could not accomplish on his own. That brings us to the question, what makes an effective leader? An effective leader demonstrates personal responsibility, decision-making capabilities, an ability to relate well to others, and effective communication skills. A good leader also maintains a positive attitude, delegates


The Key to Improving Relationships on the Job When You Have a Visual Impairment or Blindness

I find myself an observer of social behavior. I am inherently curious to note what makes relationships, personal or work related, flourish. I notice some individuals are eager to feel validated by the esteem of others. They are driven to gain popularity and importance by showcasing their strengths and successes, ad nauseam. Additionally, these individuals often feel the need to continuously solicit sympathy by advertising every frustrating or painful experience. This type of person comes across as self-absorbed. Regardless of whether this person thinks she is better than most or has a poor sense of self, she is acting self absorbed. What is the key to relinquishing self absorption? I believe it is empathy. Vicariously experiencing situations from


Commentary on Runner's World Essay, The Blind Side: How to Handle a Hurtful, Ill-Informed Comment When You Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Today is Patriot's Day in Massachusetts and the date of the annual Boston Marathon. This morning, I read an article which left me feeling as if I had been punched in the gut. I read The Blind Side, a Runner’s World essay. I hurt. If you haven’t already, consider giving it a quick read (if you can stomach it) so we can be on the same page as I continue with my review. The article is written by Peter Sagal, a marathoner who ran as a guide for William Greer, a runner and completer of 2013’s tragic Boston Marathon. William Greer is blind. Sagal told his marathon story to a group of young students who attend a school for the blind in Louisiana. He recounts


Help! How Can I, An Instructor of Youth Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired, Use CareerConnect?

Are you a teacher or professional working with youth who are blind or visually impaired? Have you tapped into the resource that is CareerConnect? If the answer is yes, wonderful! If the answer is no, perhaps you aren't sure where to begin or you wish to first know the most direct route. I wrote a 10-part lesson series making use of all the rich resources within CareerConnect. As always, the lessons are free and can be tailored to the unique needs of your unique students. It's true, CareerConnect is packed with transition-relevant resources. The lesson series,


A Cheat Sheet to Help You Self-Advocate for Accommodations As a College Student Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I don't know a soul who isn't nervous to make the leap from high school to college or a university. If this is you, you're in good company. A long list of changes is inevitable and exciting. Will you leave home to live on or off campus? Will you enjoy the company of your roommate(s)? Is the meal plan worth the money? Are you confident in your cooking skills? (Hey, let's be honestmost college students aren't known for their cooking skills.) How many classes can you handle in your first semester? Then there are changes in accommodations as you enter college. If you are blind or visually impaired, you had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in high school. Your IEP team, hopefully with you as the lead, decided on necessary accommodations and the school provided


Top 10 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


Maintaining Employment Interview 2: A Café Owner's Perspective for Youth and Adults Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Anyone else obsessed with fish tacos? I'm pretty sure I could eat one every day, particularly one topped with diced red onion and cilantro. Though I don't love to cook, I’m a foodie at heart. My love of fish tacos brought me to a fresh food and smoothie café this week. Commence my second maintaining-employment mission. I sought the business owner and asked him, "What are the qualities of an employee that will ensure he or she maintains employment? He was eager to provide his opinion. Josh, the business owner, stated integrity as the most important maintaining-employment quality. He said an employee who steals money from the cash register or otherwise shortchanges the company cannot maintain employment at his worksite, and I'm guessing the employee would leave


Maintaining Employment Interview: A Salon Owner’s Perspective for Persons Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Yesterday, I was on a mission on your and my behalf. I was determined to ask a business owner what employee-qualities she finds most important in maintaining employment. I had an epiphany as I was getting my semi-annual manicure- what if I could track down and interview the salon business owner. I did. Now in case I’ve lost you at ‘semi-annual manicure’ because you are absolutely not the manicure-type, allow me to reign you back. She is a wise and prudent small business owner and I promise to no longer mention my freshly manicured nails. Read on! Lee needed no time to think. Without hesitation she explained the top three qualities she appreciates and requires in her employees. She said and I quote, “The number one quality I need in my employees is honesty. If I have a very


The Work-Experience Ladder: Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Can Start Climbing

I'm thinking back to my first paid work at Tex-Mex Restaurant. I was 15 years old, scared out of my mind, and was hired for the summer as a counter attendant. I had two days of job training and proceeded to work the counter by myself, my anxiety and me. I had heard, "fake it 'til you make it," and so I did. I put on my smile, took orderspainfully slow the first weeksreceived cash and provided change, brought food to seated customers, and tidied the front of the restaurant. At the completion of day one, my feet ached. At the completion of week one, I wondered if I could ever memorize the menu or provide accurate driving directions to lost customers who called. At the completion of month one, I realized I didn't have reason to be so anxious. I rather liked serving


Advancing in Employment: Solving Problems and Filling Gaps As a Professional Who is Blind

There are many paths to advancement on the job and in the workplace. Many people are happy enough when they get the job. Many persons with disabilities or who are blind or visually impaired don't find the road to advancement as clear cut. But, if you set the standard, meet or exceed your employer's expectations, and there is a path for advancement from other employees leaving or retiring, you will generally advance up the ladder. However, not everyone wants to wait years and years for an opportunity to advance. I currently manage the AFB CareerConnect Program, but I have ambitions for advancement in the future, and so should you. If a higher position isn't immediately available, you can create your own opportunity by increasing your


Even Nursing Careers Can Be Adjusted to Vision Loss

As a former school nurse I was very excited to see CareerConnect Mentor, Audrey Demmitt, post her story about working as a nurse with vision loss on AFBs VisionAware. Although it has been many years and a career change later, by reading Audrey's experiences I was easily able to relive my own experiences of adjusting my career to vision loss through hers. For the longest time I thought I must be


AFB CareerConnect Is More than a Website; It's a Resource for Success

This past week, I participated in the American Foundation for the Blind's 2014 Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY. I arrived early in New York to conduct a teen employment workshop at the Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, which holds a special place in my heart. I did my student teaching at Edward R. Murrow after completing my graduate work at Florida State University. I worked with 15 high-school-age students on self-awareness related to navigating the employment process as a person who is blind or visually impaired. A lot of the workshop is me asking the participants questions. All of the information is relevant to career exploration, interviewing, and succeeding in life. Throughout the workshop, I provide youth with real-life examples related to the main points. The


Albert Rizzi, an Advocate and CEO, Who Flys High

After returning from the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn and recovering from two weeks of travel, workshops, meetings, and a wonderful conference, I am all kinds of excited to push a lot of information out to you. My partner in crime, Detra Bannister, wrote an Our Stories piece about Albert Rizzi. She posted her story right before the conference, and if you attended the conference, you might have met him. Mr. Rizzi spoke at the AccessWorld Technology Summit during the preconference. I can report that Mr. Rizzi is the real deal, and he is making a difference for persons


Basics Behind Maintaining Employment As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

In today's economic climate, it's not only be difficult to find gainful employment, it can also be a struggle maintaining a job once hired. This becomes an even bigger issue for people who are blind or visually impaired. There are many individuals (with and without disabilities) who might be recycling into unemployment and the job hunt. There are many reasons for this, but it’s my belief that it comes down to three main issues: compensatory skills, interpersonal skills, or proper training. There are other factors of course, but I'd like to address these specific issues. Below,


Happy New Year and Eleven Lesson Plans that Could Help Students Save Some Cash

I know I am digging myself out of the post-holiday landslide of work. Yes, I did take some time off to celebrate the holidays with my beautiful wife, Jen. I did try my best to avoid work during that time. That doesn't mean that AFB CareerConnect wasn't busy posting new content. That is right; we have some new resources to help you prepare for the year ahead. Get your students started early on their Money Management and concepts with this great series of lesson plans. If you haven't been


Determining Your Market Value, Know Your Current or Future Value

Recently, I wrote about the importance of keeping your resum up to date and current with trends. This is all relevant as I am currently preparing content specific to advancement in employment. I would say another important aspect to advancement in employment is knowing your current market value. Is your current organization valuing you at an accurate level? Not every position has the same mobility or ability for advancement, and nor does everyone have the need to move up. Before you begin this process, you should think about whether you are happy with your current role in your business or organization. Do you believe that you bring a greater value to your organization than your current role? Would you be willing to move to another organization? Would you be


Resumés Need to Be Updated More Often than Your Wardrobe!

Many people submit the same resumé time after time, with little updates or changes. This is a mistake, you should customize your resumé for each position that you are applying for. I would also say that the formats for resumés change over time. What was a common format for a resumé might now be considered out of date. I spent the weekend updating my resumé, as I have to use my resumé for AFB when we apply for grants, subcontracts, and also when nominated for committees or boards. I am pretty good about keeping it up to date, but I spent hours changing the format of my resumé to make


Social Media: A Powerful Tool for Job Hunters and Career Climbers

Online social media is well known to help you build personal connections and relationships. But what about career building or job-seeking? Today, many human resource managers, recruiters and headhunters are looking to see if you have an internet presence and what is being said about you on the Web. If they find a negative message or none at all, you could lose an opportunity without even knowing it. LinkedIn provides an accessible way to create a professional brand and build connections. Learn More About Social Media Grow Your Connections Through LinkedIn


AFB CareerConnect Brings You "Conducting a Successful Job Search"

As we get towards the end of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), AFB CareerConnect has added a new subsection to the Explore Careers section. The Conducting a Successful Job Search section offers needed job seeker advice and tips for teenagers and adults navigating the employment process. This series of articles provides useful and practical information


Transition Lesson Plans for Teachers and Professionals

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with high school and middle school students who are blind or visually impaired. I love getting the opportunity to work with youth specific to self-awareness, career exploration, and navigating the employment process. Patricia Leader, a program coordinator in Cupertino Public Schools, made this visit possible. She is a shining example of a great teacher who is quite passionate about guiding youth to success. They have a number of great teachers in Cupertino. This visit is relevant because it is October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month.


A CareerConnect Mentor Broadcasting Great Music Through Public Radio

For National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we felt it was time to present to you a story about our good friends from West Virginia: Ed and Karen McDonald, long-time friends of AFB and CareerConnect. In fact, Ed is a CareerConnect mentor! They produce a popular syndicated radio show, Sidetracks, right from their West Virginia home. Ed likes to call the show’s format "handmade music." It's the difference between sitting in a handmade, one-of-a-kind wooden chai, or a plastic stack chair. They describe the program


AccessWorld's October Issue Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Break Out Your Noise Makers!

AFB's ever amazing monthly online technology magazine, AccessWorld, brings you an employment focus for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, October. AccessWorld is like the trusted older brother who knows about the accessibility for mainstream and assistive technology for persons who are blind or visually impaired. Well, every October, I team up with AccessWorld's Lee Huffman to bring you a few articles that relate to employment in some manner. In this year's employment featured issue, I provide the annual Employment Resources article and an update on the AFB CareerConnect website and program. I am bringing you


Insights on Employment from the Hadley School for the Blind

You may have seen my post on the AFB Blog about the "kickoff" of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Well, I am pretty excited about all of the exciting news, content, and resources that will be provided throughout this month. Have you heard about the free seminar from the Hadley School for the Blind celebrating NDEAM by bringing a session with career building advice from successful people who are blind or visually impaired? The session is being moderated by Larry Moffet from Hadley. The successful persons who are blind or visually impaired are being


Packing Up My Hats and Canes and Heading to the United States Business Leadership Network in California

As I prepare for the United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN) Conference in Los Angeles, CA, I have to pack up my hats and canes for the trip. Yes, I wrote hats and canes. I love wearing a nice hat with my suit, and I don't leave home without "Slim," my long white cane. I am looking forward to hearing about all of the new initiatives and efforts by some great corporations to include people with disabilities in their workforce. I haven't been able to attend since the 2009 conference in National Harbor, MD, right outside of Washington, DC. I was truly impressed with the conference the last time, and I came back with a lot of information about mentoring projects, employer contacts, and a ton of connections for our organization. I go


Are You Looking for Funny and Educational Multimedia About the Employment Process for Youth?

Well, AFB CareerConnect has offered the Aaron's Adventures in Employment Series for a while now. I just wanted to reintroduce you to AFB's great friend, "Aaron." The truth is the star of this series lives in Huntington, WV. He is a young man who is visually impaired or blind. Aaron attended a science camp through our Huntington office a number of years ago, while he was in high school or even middle school. This was all prior to my joining the


Push Your Limits and Take Measured Risks

Disclaimer: I wrote this post on my day off; I took the day off for the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting board meeting. It is actually my first board meeting and orientation to the board. I serve on other boards, and I was truly excited to be voted onto this one. I really care a lot about public broadcasting, and West Virginia has a great public broadcasting system. In October, on AFB CareerConnect, we will be profiling a couple that has their own radio show on WV Public


Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law: Meet Angela Winfield

Every September, we feature a new Our Stories edition as part of the Samuel N. Hecsh (SNH) Window on the Working World of Law series. In this series, CareerConnect highlights a mentor working in the field of Law to commemorate a great man and lawyer who was blind. I go back and read Samuel N. Hecsh's story each year, and I never seem to be less amazed by his journey. He succeeds in many areas, and later chose law as his field. He benefited from mentors and continues to provide inspiration to others thinking about law, even years after his


Kicking Off September with Some Labor Day Employment Resources

Did you enjoy your Labor Day? As September opens with football kicking off throughout the United States, I thought I'd "hand off" some thoughts. All I can say is that East Carolina, Marshall, and Florida State won their openers. We will see what the rest of the season brings. Can you tell that my Labor Day Weekend involved some laboring over these college football teams, and it was well worth it? I know the college season started officially in August, but the National Football League kicks off on Thursday night. I would like to "kick off" this month with a nice post with some employment preparation resources. If you haven't


Dress and Impress: Not Just a CareerConnect Video, a Must for Interviews

I'd like to talk to you about the fact that professional dress when on an interview is a must! Even for interns, no exceptions. (Heck especially for interns.) If you want to impress someone, you should show up professionally attired. Period, end of story. Well, not literallyI actually have a bit more to say. While speaking to people around the country, I keep hearing that people still show up to interviews dressed unprofessionally. I just don’t get it. I consider that just one of the real simple and basic components to interviewing. I am not talking about interviewing to be an underwear model, and then professional dress might


Introducing Dr. Jamie O'Mally from MSU's NRTC on Blindness & Low Vision

I feel lucky to have the opportunity to introduce a friend and colleague from a partner organization of AFB. Dr. Jamie O'Mally from Mississippi State University's National Research & Training Center (NRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision, has been a big supporter of AFB CareerConnect, and we feel the same way about their program and staff. They continue to research, identify, and work to create tools to address the issues specific to employment and persons who are blind or visually impaired. I cannot stress


Find Out How Sharon Fridley Connected People Throughout Her Career: Read Her CareerConnect "Our Stories" Piece!

Are you still trying to decide what to do for a career? You're not alone. Many youth and adults spend time contemplating different careers and jobs. AFB CareerConnect(r)'s "Our Stories" section provides an opportunity to read about successful people who are blind or visually impaired. Find out about their employment, job accommodations, and use of technology. For our latest addition to "Our Stories," I connected with Sharon Fridley, and I hope to give you some information and referrals inspired by her line of work. Sharon Fridley, now retired from the


Experience Drives Inspiration for the Future: Reflecting Back on My Inspiration from the FSU Visual Disabilities Program

As I prepare for the Florida Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Conference in Tallahassee, Florida, I started thinking about the inspiration that brought me to AFB CareerConnect. I did my graduate work at Florida State University, and the conference is combined with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Visual Disabilities Program at FSU. Attending the FSU program has impacted my life tremendously. While involved in the program, I was able to


Sharing the Latest News: AFB CareerConnect Connections Newsletter

In case you are not subscribed to our "Connections" list, we wanted to share the latest scoop with you. AFB CareerConnect has not done a newsletter in a long time, but it felt like it was time to let you all know what is going on. You may not have known that AFB CareerConnect launched the CareerConnect Blog last week. That is right, AFB trusts Joe Strechay and Detra Bannister with a blog. The CareerConnect Blog will bring you employment related information and advice with a touch of humor and style. The blog will also provide updates on the program, mentors, and other relevant news. Posts will come from Joe Strechay, Detra Bannister, mentors, and


A Great Tip for Professionals Working with Youth or Adults Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

By now, chances are you have used or at least heard of the American Foundation for the Blind’s CareerConnect website, which is a free online career education and exploration program. Especially since you are on our CareerConnect Blog, but I want to make sure you get the full picture. The program incorporates e-mentoring, is fully accessible, very informative, and highly interactive. AFB’s CareerConnect is the perfect source for finding job readiness skills, peer and mentor support, and self-advocacy guidance for blind and visually impaired individuals. These tools help empower blind or visually impaired students and job


Newly Reorganized “Our Stories” Section Has Launched: Find Success Stories by Career Cluster and More!

Hello CareerConnect Friends, AFB CareerConnect has been busily preparing to launch the reorganized "Our Stories" section. The section has always been packed with tons of great success stories about mentors and other persons who are blind or visually impaired. Now, you will be able to find stories of interest by career field and other categories from the right-side navigation. If you have contacted CareerConnect, you probably know me, Detra Bannister. I am the Employment Specialist within CareerConnect. I have been writing the "Our Stories"


Do Your Research on Possible Employers: Putting in the Work Pays Off!

Finding a job is a full-time job, and most people don't put in the necessary time in the process. The commitment to getting a job requires more than a few hours here and a few there. During the job search, doing the research on employers makes a large difference. Invest the time to know about the organization, the specific field, and the current trends. Check out information on the specific business of interest, but also investigate the competition. No employer will tell you that you are too informed about their business or the current market. I can give some examples of this in practice. I was applying for internships in communications and public relations at the end of my undergraduate education. I was interviewing with a communications firm. I did my homework on


Self-Awareness: Knowledge of Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses Offers an Employment Edge

I feel like I am constantly explaining my belief that self-awareness offers an advantage for any job seeker. It is even more important for people with disabilities, and specifically, people who are blind or visually impaired. The concept seems pretty simple, but I can tell you that most teenagers and adults attempt to navigate life without truly understanding their own strengths and weaknesses. Being self-aware offers an edge when trying to navigate the employment process and probably the education system. I would bet it has a big impact on the success of relationships, too, but I will try not to make too many vast generalizations. You know, this isn't "Vast Generalization Day," but that was always a fun day. (Off topic: "The Douger" and my brother Dan created "Vast


The Road to Employment Can Be a Rough Trail, But It Is the Best Path

This post is about the road to employment for job seekers with vision loss, and it is actually an excerpt from a correspondence with an adult who is blind or visually impaired. It includes some of my key messages, while trying to address some of his concerns. The issue of not finding employment has been a battle for many. In a tough economy, we have to be even more qualified and skilled. You have a lot of training and experience as an accountant, and I am hoping you have kept up those skills. I saw that you have offered your skills as a volunteer, have you offered these skills to local organizations? I would bet there are a number of organizations willing to take your help locally. Are you engaged in your community? Are you a member of any professionally related


Christine Ha Releases Her Cookbook and Works It on the Fox Network Show, MasterChef Season 4

If you don't remember, I wrote a lot about the FOX Network MasterChef Season 3 winner prior to winning and after. Christine Ha was the contestant who was blind or visually impaired. Christine Ha lives in Houston, Texas, and she was finishing up her graduate program in creative writing. She is also a blogger and a regular through social media. You might have read the AFB CareerConnect interview with Christine Ha, but if you didn't, you should check it out.


Dealing with the General Public Is Typically a Great Experience: Just Bringing a View of the Positive

My last post gave a glimpse into the rare negative experience when traveling. I wanted to let you all know about some of the amazingly positive experiences I have encountered when traveling. Experience 1: A number of years ago, I met an amazing person named Elsa in Austin, TX. This person met me when I was speaking to a group of teenagers about college preparation. Elsa asked me about my plans while in Austin, and I really didn't have any. She asked if I would like to join her, her husband, and possibly her two sons and daughter for dinner. I ended up having dinner with them on two nights, visiting a Presidential Library, and taking in some great music. I make an effort to see Elsa and her family when I am in Austin, and they have always treated me like I was an old


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

When I speak around the United States (as also referenced in my commencement address post), I try to mention the fact that we are always disclosing about our disability. I do this constantly when traveling, as I meet many people in all kinds of situations. I vary the information that I provide depending on the situation. This is all my own judgment on the amount of information to disclose. My last trip was a short vacation for some much needed relaxation and unplugging from the electronic world, which was quite nice. My wife and I have discussed one of my


Congratulations to the Class of 2013: A Message to Our Future

Recently, I was provided with the opportunity to speak at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) graduation as their commencement speaker. This was a great honor; it was my first commencement speech, and hopefully not my last. But, who knows! Either way, I tried my best to be funny, motivational, and provide a few pieces of advice. I want to take this opportunity to bore you with a little recap from my speech and experience. It all started out really well, I received a standing ovation. That is just how impressive I am; it wasn’t that I asked them to do that. Well, I actually did ask everyone to stand and give a round of applause, and then I said, “Well, at least I can say my speech started out well


AFB CareerConnect Launches the "Lesson Plans for Professionals" Section

AFB CareerConnect is proud to announce not just a new blog, but an entire new Lesson Plans for Professionals section on CareerConnect! That is right, CareerConnect heard the requests from professionals to have lesson plans based around activities for career education, exploration, employment, and navigating through the employment process as a job seeker who is blind or visually impaired. AFB CareerConnect is working with our good friend Shannon Carollo to develop this series. Shannon Carollo is a talented professional who worked for the Lighthouse of the Big Bend in Tallahassee, Florida. Shannon is a transition specialist, and she did her undergraduate and graduate work