I just had to say “happen to have a visual impairment.” While an important piece of you, we both know a visual impairment doesn't define you. I happen to think it makes you more interesting.
What does an employer think of a visual impairment? Most employers don't 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 employers is presented, which will be a future blog topic, as well as a seven-step module for employees.
Allow me to present Golub’s “Seven Steps to Empower Your Own Success:”
Step 1: Your comfort is contagious
Be comfortable with your visual impairment and needs. Others will naturally follow suit.
Step 2: Blindness competencies
Be competent in orientation and mobility, braille (if needed), and assistive technology. Know how to access information and relay information to others, and make sure to demonstrate these abilities.
Step 3: Be an ambassador for blindness
Consider it your responsibility to let others know you are human! Focus on your similarities with others, and let others know you are more than willing to answer blindness-related questions.
Step 4: Positive attitudes
Work hard and be a contributing member of the team. Never use blindness as an excuse for not performing well and do not allow a sense of entitlement to creep in.
Step 5: Work etiquette
Display genuine care for others. For example, ask if it is a good time to meet before initiating a discussion with your employer or coworkers.
Step 6: Insist on being held to the same standard
After receiving accommodations, take full responsibility for job tasks.
Step 7: Mutual accommodation
Work with your employer and team to decipher accommodations that enable equal access to information and resources required to perform successfully.
I hope you found these tips as golden as I did. If you are looking for more information and resources on succeeding at work, you’re in luck! Check out CareerConnect’s Succeed at Work Section.
If you are a teacher or professional working with youth who are blind or visually impaired, please make use of CareerConnect’s Your Employment Story lesson series. This series is designed to teach employment-related skills using CareerConnect’s resources.
The Journal for Visual Impairment & Blindness is the only peer-reviewed journal for the professional field of blindness and visual impairments. You can find research and practical information such as the content referenced in this post through this journal. Check it out today and subscribe to the journal.