Employment with Vision Loss: What are the Chances?

October 8, 2015 | Leave a Comment

by Kathy Austin, CVA

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Graph showing employment rates for people with vision loss rising from 27% in 1997 to 37% in 2007.

Bell, E. C. (2010). Competitive employment for consumers who are legally blind: A 10-year retrospective study. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, 47(2), 109-116.

Finding a job that pays a living wage (or more) when you have vision loss can be tough, but things are looking up. Rates of employment for people with vision loss have been steadily increasing from 27% in 1997 to 37% in 2007.

What are some factors that can improve the outcome for someone to find stable employment with a competitive wage?

A recent literature review in the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research and recent survey conducted by the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University provides some interesting insight into the factors that have shown to be important in a person’s chances of finding and maintaining employment.

 

Traits of a Successful Employee with Vision Loss

Employers, of course, are half the equation. Here are some traits they feel make a successful employee with vision loss:

  • being comfortable with their visual impairment,
  • having the ability to eliminate the awkwardness that is sometimes felt by fellow sighted co-workers,
  • having a desire to be held to the same standards as his or her co-workers,
  • being proficient in blindness skills including orientation and mobility, braille and adaptive technology, and
  • possessing strategies to cope when something goes wrong.

 

Other Factors that Can Increase Success

The research also noted other factors that contribute to successful and sustained employment:

  • having a college degree increases the chances of finding employment and the amount of wages earned,
  • having positive role models who also have vision loss are important in providing advice and mentoring through professional endeavors,
  • acquiring orientation and mobility skills and using a white cane contribute to successful employment outcomes and a higher income, and
  • using braille on a regular basis increases employment rates with a higher wage.

If we can help with any of the skills above or advice on getting started with vision rehabilitation, give us a call at Second Sense. We’re here to help you reach your goals!

Kathy is the Community Engagement Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator at Second Sense.

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