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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

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

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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 help—that 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.

Asking for help is something all of us do (some more than others). However, when you are an individual who is blind or visually impaired in need of assistance, taking the initiative to ask for help may not be something you are comfortable doing, and depending on the situation, it may seem daunting.

Overcoming preconceived barriers about asking for help is essential for your success as a job seeker or current employee who is blind or visually impaired. Do you find yourself contemplating asking for help? If so, let's start by conquering some of the fears you may have, so you can move past your personal debate of whether or not to ask for help when you are at work, at home, or in the community.

Businesswoman sitting at a computer looking confused with her arms bent up at the elbow

Common Concerns About Asking for Help at Work

  • Do you fear others may view you as incapable because you don't know the answer or know how?

This is not the time to let your ego get in the way of asking for help (and secretly pretend to know it all). Asking for assistance might make you feel vulnerable, which can be frightening, but being vulnerable is what makes us human. What's the worst that could happen when you ask your question? As an employee or job seeker who is blind or visually impaired, asking questions are a strength that may set you apart from your co-workers as someone who wants to understand their job duties and maximize their performance at work. Remember, employers value employees who are self-assured and comfortable asking questions when necessary.

  • Do you fear a loss of independence or control when you ask for help?

Asking for help will often facilitate your independence if the information received is applied, and you learn from it. Give yourself permission to ask for help. When you do, you'll get something in return such as learn a new skill or simply receive new information that you can use in the future. If you need to inch your way towards overcoming this fear, review how to solve problems at work for additional strategies you can apply.

  • Do you lack self-confidence in your skills to communicate you need assistance?
Two businessmen talking, one facing the camera and the other one facing away from the camera

As a blind or visually impaired individual, you need to know how to tell others how they can help you. This skill may be particularly difficult if you are an introvert where asking for help doesn't feel natural or easy. Practice asking for help in a manner where your request is specific. For additional practice, review Tips on Negotiating Assistance to boost your confidence in this area.

  • When you ask for help, are you concerned people will only agree to assist you out of feeling sorrow for you because you are visually impaired?

Interacting with a sighted person is your opportunity to debunk any misconceptions that person might have about individuals with vision loss and prove you are more like them than different, especially at work.

  • Are you worried you will inconvenience the person you are asking for help or that you will be a burden?

The fact of the matter is most people are willing to help one another and are glad when presented the opportunity to do so. Don't you feel good when you help someone?

If you need assistance while you are at work, a good strategy to utilize is to schedule an appointment with a colleague or supervisor to ask your questions. Track your questions as the day goes and don't spend too much time trying to solve a problem you could easily get the answer to by asking. Frequent interruptions that impact productivity at work will not be well received. And lastly, I should mention, asking for too much help can be a problem, but I'll save that topic for a future blog.

It takes courage to ask for help. However, when you recognize you need assistance and ask for help, you will grow personally and professionally as you seek employment or work to Maintain Your Job and Succeed at Work as a person who is blind or visually impaired.

If you're still debating whether or not to ask for help, use these additional resources to further build your skills:

Interviewing Tips: The Best Response to "What Is Your Greatest Weakness?"

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

Assertiveness Training: Introduction

Self-Confidence: How to Foster it As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired


Topics:
Employment
Low Vision
Planning for the Future
Social Skills