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

Two employees who are visually impaired, hard at work at their desks.

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.

Fate 2, the blue pill: Step it up and alter your course, springing forward (my seasonally-themed term for advancing) in your career. While there is no 100% effective route to job security or promotion, this is as close as it comes.

You chose the blue pill? Good. Here’s the instruction manual:

  • Cultivate a good reputation. Be a reliable worker, be a provider of excellent work, be a team player, be thoughtful of others, be humble, and be kind. Think through how you can improve your reputation, and invest the effort.
  • Pursue leadership opportunities. In most occupations, career advancement involves supervising teams of employees. Practice this skill. When leading, cast a vision for the team; display genuine care and concern for each team member; verbally acknowledge and utilize each person’s strength; give each team member the freedom to own a specific portion of a project; and provide clear expectations.
  • Set personal goals for improving your job performance. I don’t know what it is you are paid to accomplish at work, but I do know advancement will involve accomplishing whatever work you do with excellence. Goals you may set in order to improve your performance include: pursuing up-to-date research and skills, utilizing a mentor, seeking insight from peers in your network, learning new skills through volunteer work, and taking calculated risks to increase your work experience.
  • Occasionally re-evaluate your accommodations. The accommodations you use to minimize or eliminate workplace barriers are not guaranteed to be the best accommodations for the entirety of your career. You may acquire new job tasks that require a change of accommodations; you may realize you could be more productive with an updated or different accommodation; or your workplace technology may evolve, necessitating a change in your assistive technology. I recommend staying informed of available assistive technology by periodically perusing AFB AccessWorld Magazine, and I recommend remaining willing to adapt your workplace accommodations to meet shifting needs.

You and I must heed this advice; for if we are not actively pursuing excellence in our job roles, another applicant will. Don’t feel discouraged, CareerConnect wants to help you on your journey. In fact, be on the lookout for CareerConnect’s newest accessible, self-paced, and free online course on maintaining and advancing in your career. Coming soon to a website near you!

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