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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Blog Posts by Shannon Carollo

Finding a Job When You Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Christine Ha is a blind chef; Gary Vermeij is a blind biology professor; Joleen Ferguson is a visually impaired physical therapist, and Bernie Vinther is a blind machinist. How about youwhat is

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

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

Job Applications Inquiring About a Driver’s License? Discriminatory—Here’s Why

Hello ma’am, are you hiring, one can ask relentlessly around town; 'Job opening in _______ field' one can type in the search bar and scour the web with more intensity than a private detective. When determined to find a position, the hunt is on for an assortment of job applications in hard copy and electronic format. As we then fill out form after form after form, it’s easy to spot similaritiesone of which is, Do you have reliable transportation, or worse, Do you have a valid driver’s license, even when driving is not an essential job function. While the former is arguably tolerable, the latter is arguably discriminatory. It’s a lose-lose for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. If yes is

When Your Visual Impairment Is Confusing to Your Coworkers

Perhaps you have retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and you are finding it increasingly difficult to use your vision in low light and, much to your frustration, you are aware of your gradual loss of peripheral vision. Let’s say you are currently reading fine print with ease, yet you are using a cane as you leave work in the evening, and you’ve been told you consistently fail to notice a coworker waving hello from the corner of the room. You’re overwhelmed, and your coworkers, well, they’re puzzled. Whether or not your eye condition is recent or progressive, your coworkers are likely just as confused. They don’t understand the functional implications of vision loss. They don’t know those with

Self-Awareness as the Spine of a Solid Career as a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Hi job seeker, What careers will utilize your aptitudes? What career are you motivated to pursue? What accommodations will you utilize in order to excel in the job? What skills need to be honed in order to thrive and promote in the field? Accurately answering these questions requires keen self-awareness skills. So, what do we know about the benefits of self-awareness? Joe Strechay, Director of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, discusses in the blog post, Self Awareness: Knowledge of

Community Travel Skills—a Predictor of Workplace Success for Individuals Who Are Blind

When you and I take a look at the employment statistics for people who are visually impaired, we wonder what can be done to improve them; specifically, we wonder how to educate potential employers, and we wonder if there are any skills individuals who are employed have that those who are seeking employment may need to master. Hence, I’ve been reviewing research and articles this morning. I’m discerning the research-based benefits of braille use,

The Surprising Advantages of Attending Professional Conferences and How to Get the Most Out of Them

Alright students, job seekers, those who are looking to advance in your career, or even those of us who are looking to learn or improve upon a career skillthat likely includes every last one of us! I come bearing good news and a great resource. Let’s ask ourselves: What exactly is my goal or ambition as it relates to my career? What is it that I want? Maybe your response is to simply and quickly attain a first or subsequent job, or perhaps it’s to enhance your job performance, to

Deteriorating Eyesight and an Increasingly Difficult Workload to Manage

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

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

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

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

Computers Installed with Assistive Technology Offered as Low as $50 for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Job seeker who is blind or visually impaired, You know the necessity of assistive technology in the workplace, but perhaps you are experiencing a recent loss of vision or for any number of reasons have yet to become proficient in blindness and low vision accessibility software enabling you to perform job functions excellently. If the missing link between you and

AFB CareerConnect Message Boards: Why and How to Use Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sprint Is Committed to the Blind and Visually Impaired Community

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

Maintaining Employment As a Person with a Visual Impairment

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

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

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

Pre-Employment Lesson Plans for Consumers with Multiple Disabilities

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

Pre-Employment Skills and Activities for Consumers with Multiple Disabilities

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

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

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

How to Quit Your Job the Right Way

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

How Can LinkedIn Benefit the Visually Impaired Job Seeker?

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

Is Braille Useful on the Job?

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

Who Can Assist Me with Developing a Resume?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The [Polar] Express to Workplace Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Our Veterans Who Are Recently Coping with Vision Loss

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

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

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

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

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

Handling Bullying in School and the Workplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Your Guide Dog Could Talk: Guide Dog Appreciation Month

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

A Head-On Look at Depression and Suicidal Thoughts in Persons with Visual Impairments

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Addressing depression and suicide is painful and messy, yet far too important to intentionally ignore or absentmindedly dismiss. Though not an expert on mental health, I am one who has lived through a season of depression. If there’s anything my experience taught me, it’s that we must look toward the inner beast (even the inclination towards depression) and fight it before it has the chance to take hold and choke the life right out us. You see, according to a JAMA Ophthalmology study in May 2013, there is an increase in depression in adults with

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

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

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

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

Re-Think Leadership, You Already Are a Leader

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

Using a Hobby to Earn Supplemental Income

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's Talk Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlocking the Potential of Your Social Network

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Barbara Corcoran's Recommendation for Finding a Mentor

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

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

If You Are Deaf-Blind, You May Qualify for Free Communication Technology

We need each other. Living in isolation is no way to live. If you (or your loved one, consumer, or student of any age) have qualifying hearing and vision loss, as well a qualifying income, and you desire to increase independence and/ or to further connect and communicate with others, you can obtain free communication technology. But who provides the technology? The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), a product of the Communication and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, provides an iCanConnect representative in every U.S. state, in D.C., and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sizzlin' Summer Travel Tips to Get Your Rest-From-Work On! (For Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired)

We made it! We practically made it to summertime that is. I think a vacation is in order. I’m feeling a little warm, how about y’all? Sure we didn’t have to wait until summer to break from work, but with our children on summer vacation and the warm sun shining, I always find summer an inviting time for respite. Where will you vacation this summer? As for me… We are moving to Delaware this month [Another move! This time last year we moved to Texas from Japan.] and have decided to road trip to our destination, stopping in large cities (Dallas, Nashville, D.C., etc.) along the way. Our vacation will include

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

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

Hey Teens, Let's Talk Summer Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of a Strong Social Network


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

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

How to Successfully Transition from High School to College and Work As a Student Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I’m really proud of you. Here you are reading about your upcoming transition from high school, which means you’re taking initiative in preparing for your future. You’re on the right track; taking initiative is, in my opinion, the biggest predictor of workplace success. So here’s what you can do to prepare yourself for a smooth, exciting transition into adulthood: Continue on your journey of self-awareness. Figure out your interests, values, goals, abilities, and how you come across to others. Learn more by reading

We Discuss the Importance of Excellent Social Skills As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired, But What if We’re Quiet? (Hint: Quiet Is Highly Valuable)

Who else loves Ted Talks? I suppose listening to them is a hobby for me. Now, having recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, I was eager to watch her Ted Talk: The Power of Introverts. In her book and Ted Talk she explains that Americans (unfortunately) tend to praise and value extroverts over introverts. I agree; we esteem animated, charming, and boisterous people. In my opinion, we

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing a Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired with Multiple Disabilities for Work: Utilizing Peers to Provide Guidance in Social Skills

Parents and teachers of teens with visual impairments and multiple disabilities, think back to your 15 year old self. If you’re like most, you cared a great deal about your peers. You cared what they thought about you, you wanted to emulate them, and you desired to fit in. For this reason, if you were told to stop what you were doing because your friends found it unpleasant, there’s a good chance you would discontinue the behavior. Fast forward to today. Most teens, whether sighted, blind, or visually impaired, and with or without accompanying disabilities, care about their peers. Therefore, teachers can train students or peers to provide honest, assertive,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This One Goes Out to the Ones I Love; This One Goes Out to the Ones [Feeling] Left Behind: A Letter to Middle and High School Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Hey guys, It’s difficult to formulate my thoughts because all I am doing is singing “This one goes out to the one I love; this one goes out to the one I left behind” in my head; It’s on repeat; make it stop! Do you know that R.E.M song? You might not; it’s an 80’s song and I’m an 80’s child. I’m thinking about that song because, and this might sound insincere but it is not, I really love you middle and high school gals and guys. Man, this is a difficult season and I care about you as you walk through it. I know 90% of you (I made that percentage up, but I aired on the side of caution) feel left behind, out of place, and like you’re not going anywhere.

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

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

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

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

The Purpose of Transition Goals When You are 14-22 Years Old and Blind or Visually Impaired

I thought that just maybe, with the hustle and bustle of life at home, with the school’s emphasis on standardized tests, and with the often uncertain future plans of teens and adults, it would be easy to lose sight of this year’s “transition goals” or to disregard their importance. Why don’t we take a step back and refocus on the purpose of transition goals. This process of refocusing is simple and, might I add, refreshing. It reminds us of what is truly important, and it allows for your individuality, your strengths and weaknesses. Because at the end of the day, the school day for instance, your flourishing adult life will

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

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

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

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

Better Sleep Means Better Job Performance and Job Satisfaction: Improving Sleep Disorders in People Who Are Blind

Having recently moved from Japan to America, I can attest to the misery of weeklong jetlag. Functioning in social settings was unwelcome; completing job tasks was painstaking; and applying critical thinking skills was laborious, if at all possible. Knowing that many people who are blind have circadian rhythm sleep disorders that feel like bouts of jetlag, I knew I needed to address the struggle. I recognize the recurring or constant battle you may face in falling asleep, staying asleep through the night, and sleeping until morning. Consequently, I recognize the struggle of exhaustion at work, the fight to stay awake and alert in the afternoon, and the

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

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

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

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

Self-Confidence Part 2: How to Foster It As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Vince Lombardi stated, “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.” Much truth, yes? Consider two interviewees who are similarly qualified. One appears uncertain or apprehensive, while the other confidently and clearly states how he will benefit the company. The “man who thinks he can” is the “man who wins”. But for the naturally timid or the inexperienced, how do you cultivate your confidence? Did you read the KJZZ piece about four teenagers who are blind or visually impaired preparing to hike the Grand Canyon?

AFB Resources for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired With Multiple Disabilities

You may have read a blog post here or there with information relevant to individuals with visual impairments and multiple disabilities, and you may have missed just as many. If you have multiple disabilities, or if you are a parent or specialist of a person with multiple disabilities, these posts are too valuable to overlook. Below is a compilation of American Foundation for the Blind's career-related articles and blogs pertaining to individuals with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Guidelines for Establishing an Effective, Healthy Mentorship

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

What I Learn From Avraham Rabby’s Story As a Diplomat Who Is Blind

I am in awe of the great resource that is the Our Stories section of Career Connect. It is a tremendous gift to read profiles and interviews of people who are blind or visually impaired who have fully blossomed in their careers. As I sit looking out my back window at an unassuming tree, I know in three weeks it will bloom its magnificent Japanese cherry blossoms. You may recently identify as visually impaired, or you may have been blind since birth; either way or anywhere in

The Frustration of Being Visually Impaired Without Looking Visually Impaired, and How to Handle It on the Job

From childhood classrooms and playgrounds to adult workplaces and social settings, there seems to be a common struggle for those who are visually impaired but don’t appear to be visually impaired. You guessed it (or you’ve lived it): Many people think you’re pulling a fast one on them, are intentionally selective of what you don’t see, or are exaggerating your visual impairment. To those who live with the effects of this fallacy and frustration, goodness sakes, I’m sorry. This must be insulting and frustrating and tiring. Of course, strangers, coworkers, employers, or fellow club members simply do not understand how one can read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Who You Are As a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

What if there was one shade of green? One variety of tree; one texture of leaf; one type of forest; one season per year; one cry of a baby; one song of a bird; one scent to discover. What if people were the same? What if your story was the same as mine and the same as your neighbors; your experiences a mimic of all who run beside you and came before you? There would be little to learn; even less to appreciate. The world would be a predictable arrangement; your story would offer no weight or distinct experience. Your strengths would be invaluable as they parallel the masses. Today in this vibrant, season-revolving,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employment Options for People with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Ways to Lose a Job: What Not to Do As an Employee Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

In an effort to provide tips for maintaining employment, I decided it would be far more engaging to read a "what not to do" list. Enjoy the list and please don't try these at home… or at work! Without further ado: In order to lose a job…. Prove to be dishonest. Lying, cheating, stealingtake your pick. This includes lying on a job application or resume. Make a habit of showing up late for work and/ or meetings. Choose the snooze button instead of ensuring you make the bus and definitely don't have a plan B for getting to your location of employment. Miss deadlines and skip important meetings. Go on, delete your virtual calendar. Demonstrate poor communication skills. You can do this any number of ways. Ideas: Forgo eye contact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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