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for the Blind

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Browse By Topic: Getting Around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Drivers, in Celebration of White Cane Day, Here’s What to Do When a Blind Pedestrian Is Crossing an Intersection or Street

Since President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress passed its resolution in 1964, we celebrate White Cane Safety Day or more simply, White Cane Day every October 15th. The purpose of this exhilarating day (Yes, for those of us who are blind or visually impaired or who work in the field of blindness, this day is thrilling!) is to celebrate the independence of those who are blind and to educate drivers on white cane laws. In honor of White Cane Day 2016, let’s discuss a driver’s protocol when he or she sees an individual holding a white cane or using a dog

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

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

Why Should Blind or Visually Impaired Individuals Practice Orientation and Mobility Skills?

By Neva Fairchild Are you thinking, “What’s the Point? I’m not in school, and I don’t have a job. Where do I need to go, anyway?” Has your Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructor asked you to practice what you have learned between lessons? Do you have trouble thinking of reasons to get out or places to go? Are you reluctant to grab your cane and be adventurous? Well, there’s an

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

Money Management: How Do You Teach It to Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?

Let's play a game my children love: "Would You Rather?" Would you rather enter adulthood with a firm understanding of how your parents managed their money (including earning money; paychecks and taxes; budgeting; wise spending; saving; loans and debt; credit and debit cards; savings accounts; giving; and investing) or would you rather enter adulthood with minimal knowledge of how your parents earned, saved, and spent? Of course, I already know your answer. Though as a parent I know it's easier to independently purchase our family needs than include the children in the process. After all, money management is a private and

It Takes a Village to Raise a Dog Guide for a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired. Are You Curious About the Process?

How does a person who is blind travel to work? People who are blind travel to work using Orientation and Mobility skills and tools. Some individuals who are blind or visually impaired prefer using long canes as they tap their way to the bus stop and office. They don’t want the commitment of a dog guide, they aren’t fans of dogs, or they simply prefer using long canes. Others may prefer a dog guide for the boost of confidence, as well as the companionship, increased walking speed, set of eyes, and “pep in

Newly Blind or Visually Impaired? Read These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding Transportation to Work

You have come to the conclusion, though difficult to swallow, you’re a non-driver due to your blindness or significant visual impairment. One of many questions likely conjured up include, “How can I get to and from work reliably?” I’m assuming you’re here in search of answers. Answers: First, there’s walking to work if you live close enough. If you haven’t started already, you should work with an Orientation and Mobility Specialist who is trained to teach you how to safely move about your environment. You’ll learn to use a white cane as a tool to detect obstacles in your path; you’ll learn to pay attention to landmarks you

Keep Rockin’ Around Your Tree By Improving Your Orientation and Mobility Skills As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

It’s a lighthearted title, but it’s not a lighthearted matter. If you are blind or significantly visually impaired and have minimal Orientation and Mobility (travel) skills, you have a choice to make. You can attend a residential program and/or pursue local training to learn: Cane techniques Route planning Problem-solving

Thoughts on My White Cane and What It Means to Me

October 15 is designated as National White Cane day. The purpose of White Cane Day is to bring awareness to people who are blind or have low vision and to show what the cane means to them and how it helps facilitate independence. White Cane Safety Day was signed into law in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, when he recognized the importance of the white cane as a staff of independence for blind people. The presidential proclamation said “the white cane in our society has become one of the symbols of a blind person’s ability to come and go on his own. In 2011, White

White Cane Day 2015: Let's Go Back to the Future with Slim, My White Cane

That is right, it is White Cane Day 2015, and Slim and I wanted to celebrate with a little trip down memory lane. I can remember my first white cane lesson in New Jersey where my instructor told me I was a natural. That is right, I was meant to use a white cane. The purpose of the white cane is to provide a tool to utilize for orientation and mobility. One of my professors from Florida State University's Visual Disabilities program told me that there are three purposes to the white cane: The white cane is used for mobility and clearance as you travel through your environment safely and efficiently. The white cane

When Your Eyesight Is Declining and You Need Help with Work and Daily Living Activities

If you’re like me, asking for considerable assistance has never been an activity you particularly enjoy. In fact, it can be downright wearing-jeans-two-sizes-too-small uncomfortable, or at least the social equivalent. Furthermore, if you are newly visually impaired or your vision is declining, you are probably finding yourself in need of more and more assistance with activities that were previously effortless. Instead of focusing on any embarrassment or discomfort in asking for help, focus your attention on creating a plan to relearn independence and negotiate assistance with tact and grace. Game-plan time! In effort to relearn

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

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

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

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

Celebrating White Cane Safety Day As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

White Cane Safety Day or White Cane Day is celebrated on October 15, and I felt this was the perfect time to tell you about traveling as a person who is blind of visually impaired. I have a white cane nicknamed "Slim" that travels with me everywhere. It isn't always easy, but I wouldn't do it any other way at this point in time. I have been a cane traveler for a number of years now, and it isn't always perfect. I choose to use a heavier and more durable white cane as I travel a lot and my cane takes a beating. Recently, I was traveling through Grand Central Station in New York City when I hit something with my cane. There was

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: 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

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

Travel Independently and Interdependently As a Professional Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I have been using my orientation and mobility skills in typical and more complicated travel situations a lot lately. You really have to get out there and use your skills to keep them up to a high level. I have been a bit too complacent about my skills lately, and I knew my skills needed some sharpening. I have been putting my skills to the test quite a bit over the past month in New York City and New Jersey. Because I've been in the area doing work and such, I've been taking a lot of trains, subways, and generally navigating through different communities in the New York City area and boroughs. I can tell you that I have become more comfortable with

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!

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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