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Browse By Topic: Planning for the Future

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


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


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


Students with Visual Impairments, College Is Different from High School!

Did you wake up in your dorm room during your first few weeks of college and think, College isn’t anything like high school! For many students with vision loss, this can be a rude awakening. You no longer have a teacher of students with visual impairments to adapt materials, make sure you have your textbooks on time, or intercede with your teachers when you need an accommodation. It’s essential that you know your


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


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 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.


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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 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.


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


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,


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


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


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


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


Your One-Stop-Shop for Back-to-School Resources As a Student Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

The entire community of American Foundation for the Blind is rooting for you! We so want to see you succeed in your educational pursuits. In thinking how to support you, I decided to gather a comprehensive list of blogs, articles, and videos geared to getting the schoolyear off to the finest start. So review the following resources and garner the counsel you need: Let's Talk Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairments


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


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


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


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


AFB Launches an App for AFB CareerConnect and It's FREE!

You might be excited or just ecstatic that the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has just launched the CareerConnect App with some of your favorite features of the CareerConnect resource center. Hold your applause and high-pitched sounds of jubilation for the full deal on this momentous occasion. Am I hyping this app? Oh, yes! But I will tell you that this launch is just the beginning of more great things to come. AFB has worked hard to include some of the new and exciting features that vision professionals, job seekers, youth, and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired use from CareerConnect. The CareerConnect App includes four main tabs, and it follows the model of the


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


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


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


Pursue Your Passion! Career Exploration Advice for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

I'm a photographer on the side. Four years ago I purchased my first DSLR (or high quality digital camera), ferociously unpacked it, and clicked away. Practically non-stop. Seriously, to the extreme. I saw those rolled eyes when I daily opened my camera bag. I took the camera everywhere! I uploaded the digital files to my desktop and was disappointed with the results each day. I had the equipment, but could not produce the results. I have been on the brink of throwing in the towel on at least fifty occasions. Four years later, what changed? Four years, that's what changed. I captured moments with my camera almost daily for four years in order to develop my photography skills. I learned to use my tool, the camera, by Googling, “How do I...(fill in the blank).” I was


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


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


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


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


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


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


Thank You to Alpha Point in KC!

I enjoyed getting the opportunity to speak to the teenagers from the Alpha Point Technology Camp in Kansas City, Missouri today. I spoke to a group of about 40 participants through a conference call line for about 20 minutes. I was asked to speak about the impact of technology on my life and work. I think this topic is tremendously important, as technology has allowed me to compete at a high level via access technology software and assistive technology. I was asked to speak about the work of the American Foundation for the Blind and my story. AFB does so much, and we make a large impact in so many different areas. I explained about the AFB family of websites including AFB CareerConnect, AccessWorld, FamilyConnect, VisionAware, and AFB.org. I mentioned work of our Public