For many years, it has been estimated that over 70 percent of adults who are blind or visually impaired are unemployed. This is despite the various training opportunities and assistive technology devices that allow us to be productive and independent. Last week, the Chicago Tribune wrote a piece that illustrates just how difficult it is for people with vision loss or other disabilities to find employment. The story is about Bryce Weiler, a sports announcer who happens to be blind. Like many people in his situation, Weiler spent many years tirelessly looking for job opportunities. It wasn’t that he didn’t have experience – Bryce gained plenty of it during his time in college, in addition to holding a master’s degree in sports management.
After several years and hundreds of emails, Bryce finally got an opportunity to work full time with Connecticut’s New Britain Bees minor league baseball team. In this position – which starts next month – Bryce will create programs at the ballpark for fans with disabilities, as well as help recruit other workers with disabilities.
Although this situation is all too common for people with disabilities, the majority of the time it does not have such a happy ending. Unfortunately, many employers still believe that people who are blind or visually impaired will be a risk to their business. A common misconception is that we require extra help or are more likely than our sighted counterparts to get hurt on the job, for example. As a blind employee myself, I know that nothing could be further from the truth. Like all other employees, those of us with vision loss are competent individuals. With the right training and assistive technology products, we are as independent and capable of contributing to the workplace as all other employees. You can read our previous post on the top reasons for hiring workers with disabilities to learn about these and other common misconceptions.
My hat goes off to the journalists at the Chicago Tribune for their detailed and accurate coverage of Bryce’s story. It showcased his talents, but also gave readers a true picture of the struggles he – as well as thousands of Americans with disabilities – encounter while trying to find jobs. I sincerely hope that more media outlets will shed light on this critical topic. Most importantly, I hope that this and similar stories will show prospective employers that people with disabilities want and deserve job opportunities, just like anyone else.