three photos of people using technology at work -- a woman using a laptop, a man wearing a suit and glasses, using a traditional keyboard and a large monitor, and a woman using a high-contrast keyboard and magnified screen

At AFB we are committed to supporting blind and low vision individuals who are in the workforce or are striving to join the workforce. We know that for job seekers who are visually impaired, there are often technology obstacles that affect their obtainment of employment and that once employed, they may encounter accessibility barriers that make doing their job challenging. We want to shed light on these challenges, and mitigate them, through our Workplace Technology Study.

What Are Our Research Questions?

What are the technology experiences (training, tools used, required job tasks, barriers, wishes) of workers with visual impairments?

What mainstream and assistive technology tools will allow workers with visual impairments to be more successful in their work?

How Are We Going to Answer Our Research Questions?

To answer our questions, we are taking a multi-pronged approach by doing the following:

  1. We reviewed the literature to learn about how those with typical vision do their jobs and effective practices and barriers for those with visual impairments. We learned about the responsibilities that employees have in these fields and the tools they use, whether sighted or visually impaired.
  2. We conducted focus groups to hear from sighted and visually impaired employees so we better understand their experiences. We asked questions about training, onboarding, IT support, and other topics. Based on our conversations with more than 40 individuals we identified 10 themes.
  3. In February, we will be launching and analyzing data from a survey. In order to gather data from a broad cross-section of workers, our accessible survey will collect data on a wide range of topics related to the use of both mainstream and assistive technology in the workplace, training, accommodations, etc. The questions in the survey will be based on the information we learned through our literature review and focus groups.

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  1. We will be diving in deeper through interviews of a sample of workers who are visually impaired who took part in our survey. We will look more in-depth at the experiences of these workers.

Who Will Find the Study Findings Valuable?

We will release a report before the end of 2021 that we know will be of value to assistive technology companies, employers, vocational rehabilitation professionals, adults with visual impairments, and anyone who has an interest in how we can create a world of no limits for people who are blind or have low vision in today’s workplace.

What’s the Timeframe for the Research?

We have completed our literature review and focus groups. We are planning to conduct the survey in February 2021 with the interviews to follow. We will release a report before the end of 2021.

Who Can I Reach Out to For More Information?

Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, AFB’s Director of Research, is heading up this study. Please email her at prosenblum@afb.org.