People who are blind or visually impaired already hold professional leadership positions — every president of AFB since its inception being a notable example. Studies suggest that the benefits of hiring people with disabilities include improvements in profitability, competitive advantage, and inclusive work culture, to name just a few. Yet, few blind and visually impaired Americans are in top levels of leadership in the workforce. Creating the widespread systemic change AFB is pushing for requires an even more significant presence of people with vision loss at the highest levels, which is the idea behind AFB’s Blind Leaders Development Program.

Every year, AFB will select a class of blind or visually impaired individuals: 50% emerging leaders as fellows and 50% established leaders to act as their mentors. Over the course of this 12-month program, fellows will:

  • Follow The Leadership Challenge curriculum by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Attend the AFB Leadership Conference in person if possible, and virtually if not
  • Participate in a series of webinars addressing how blind and visually impaired individuals can strengthen interpersonal skills
  • Engage with a blind mentor already in a leadership position

The Blind Leaders Development Program will increase the fellows’ effectiveness at higher levels of leadership, influence, and responsibility. The program will expand the fellows’ networks across sectors, creating opportunities to engage in leadership roles. As fellows rise to greater levels of influence, they will be able to hire and mentor other blind individuals, creating a positive, upward trend.

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