What Kinds of Jobs do People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Do?

What Kinds of Jobs do People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Do?

A common question the Lighthouse’s Employment Services Department gets is what types of jobs can people who are blind or visually impaired do? I too get this question from curious individuals, who are in awe when I tell them about my work at The Chicago Lighthouse as a radio producer and development assistant. Today’s technology, as well as using different adaptations, allows people with vision loss to do just about any job you can think of. The following list, although not exhaustive, is meant to give a general idea of the different careers and jobs done by people who are blind or visually impaired

  • Teachers, college professors and guidance counselors
  • Social workers and psychologists
  • Doctors, nurses and occupational and physical therapists
  • Masseuses and chiropractors
  • Rehabilitation teachers and counselors
  • Customer service representatives
  • Restaurant and store workers
  • Factory workers
  • Freelance writers, journalists and TV and radio broadcasters
  • DJs and musicians
  • Attorneys, judges and politicians
  • Executive directors and managers
  • Coaches and athletes
  • Authors and motivational speakers
  • Chefs
  • Architects
  • Researchers, engineers and scientists
  • Artists and photographers

Just like people with sight, individuals who are blind or visually impaired have different interests and skillsets. For a long time, the unemployment rate among people with vision loss has been over 70 percent, and it is due in large part to the numerous misconceptions that still exist. Thanks to equipment like screen-reading and magnifying software, Braille displays and various other tools, people with vision loss can hold different jobs. When employers have doubts about how we will accomplish a certain aspect of the job, chances are we have already given careful thought to it and come up with solutions.

If you would like to learn more about the different jobs done by people who are blind or visually impaired, visit the American Foundation for the Blind’s CareerConnect website. The site provides different resources and other information for job seekers with vision loss. It also includes blog posts from successful professionals who are blind or visually impaired. You can also read our popular post about the top 5 benefits of hiring employees who are blind or visually impaired.

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Commentary: On 10 Years of the iPhone

Commentary: On 10 Years of the iPhone

On January 9, 2007, the Apple iPhone was unveiled by the late Steve Jobs in front of thousands of curious spectators. The launch of this new and entirely touch-screen operated cell phone changed the way in which people across the globe interact with technology. For me and countless other individuals with vision loss or other disabilities, the iPhone and similar mobile devices not only gave us greater access to technology, but they also afforded us more independence that previously seemed impossible.

My brother and several friends were among the lucky ones to own that first iPhone from 2007. I always heard excited chatter from them about the cool features it had. “I can even check the weather,” my brother told my relatives in Mexico. At the time touch-screen devices like the iPhone were completely inaccessible to those of us with vision loss, so I could only dream of enjoying that technology. That all changed in 2009 with the launch of the iPhone 3GS, when Apple incorporated Voiceover, its screen-reading software into this and future versions of the iPhone.

Like most of my friends who were blind, I was skeptical and didn’t know if the iPhone would work for me. The thought of being able to use a touch-screen without sight seemed daunting and impossible. It was not until 2012 that I decided to switch to an iPhone after constantly hearing rave reviews from my friends, who were extremely pleased with the accessibility. Their feedback did not disappoint. For the first time in my life, I was able to send and receive text messages on my own thanks to the iPhone. I could also check the weather and email on the go, something that my family and friends took for granted.

Today, the iPhone not only helps me stay in touch with the world, it also gives me more independence. Apps like LookTell Money Reader and TapTapSee allow me to identify things without needing someone’s assistance. With the Bard Mobile and NFB NewsLine apps I can download books, newspapers and magazines in a matter of seconds to listen on my iPhone. The kNFBReader app quickly scans printed documents and reads them out loud to me. Thanks to Voiceover and the built-in accessibility of the camera, I can even take pictures! Finding last minute transportation has become easier thanks to apps like Lyft and Uber, and I can easily find my way to unfamiliar locations with the phone’s GPS.

Without a doubt, the iPhone and other mobile devices have dramatically enhanced the lives of everyone, but even more so for people with disabilities. Technology has changed significantly since 2007, the time when I and other people with vision loss could only dream of being able to use these devices. Kudos to Apple and other manufacturers who are constantly trying to make their devices accessible to everyone. The possibilities with technology are endless, and I am sure it will only continue to help people with and without disabilities connect to the world and live more independent lives.

Commentary: Using Virtual Reality to Cure Blindness

When I think about cataract surgery, the first thing that comes to mind is a simple procedure available practically anywhere. Unfortunately, that is only true in countries with adequate access to health care services. People living in third-world countries and remote regions have limited, if any, opportunity of even seeing an ophthalmologist or any type of eye care professional. Simply put, a cataract is a clouding of the lens that can impair someone’s vision. Sadly, this causes many people in the developing world to unnecessarily lose their sight. Over 20 million people are affected by cataracts, and according to the Rand Corporation, another 12 million will be affected by 2020.

 

The alarming statistics of those losing their sight due to cataracts in underdeveloped nations were shocking to say the least, and maybe it’s because I’m fortunate to live in a country where most patients with cataracts have immediate access to the latest developments in medicine. Typically, someone with cataracts can go to their eye doctor and take care of this problem in a matter of days or weeks. Unfortunately, many people in third-world countries will never have access to a general care doctor, let alone a cataract surgeon.

 

Several nonprofit organizations hope to reduce these numbers by teaching aspiring doctors in underdeveloped nations simple but effective cataract removal procedures. HelpMeSee and Cure Blindness are two such organizations, and both plan to teach medical students and doctors cataract surgery using different virtual reality methods. They hope that by combining this technology with hands-on experience, more physicians will be trained in these simple but important procedures. Most importantly, they hope to make the difference in the lives of countless individuals by preventing blindness and even restoring their sight.

 

As a long time technology user, I admit I’ve reached a point where I take these tools for granted. Of course, the fact that I’m blind allows me to appreciate the independence it gives me, but I rarely think about how it can help those who don’t have access to even basic medical care and other necessities. Learning about how these two nonprofits are using virtual reality to help cure a basic ailment really puts things into perspective. I am once again amazed at how modern technology can be used to help those in need have a better quality of life.

 

In contrast, not everyone utilizes technology to benefit mankind. All too often, the media reports stories about hackers and how they threaten our safety and security in today’s technologically driven world. I sure am glad to learn that others are using technology for what I think was its initial purpose: to make our lives better and easier. I find it extremely unfortunate and even disturbing that so many people with cataracts are still losing their sight unnecessarily. On the other hand, virtual reality and other technological and medical innovations give us all hope that these individuals will one day see a brighter future.

Watch Out World, I May Soon Give Car Racing a Try!

Imagine this: a group of 19 car racers that happen to be both deaf and blind!! Sounds like a bad joke, but a group of deaf-blind individuals in Poland recently got the chance of their lives to do some car racing under the watchful eye of driving instructors. While a few of the racers drove at one point in their lives, the majority had never driven before, let alone raced in a car! Racers who still had some hearing or sight were given helmets and masks to level the playing field. The instructors made up a code of special tactile gestures so that racers would know when to start, turn, stop, etc.

I can only imagine the amount of trust the racers had to have on their sighted companions — I know I would really have to trust my companion if I ever decided to give car racing a try! I only have some light perception in my left eye, and cannot see anything else. Still, I can see (no pun intended) how this activity can boost someone’s confidence. The fact that you can drive by simply trusting someone else to be your eyes and ears can easily build up confidence!

Many technological advances – such as Google’s self-driving car – may possibly allow blind people to get around with more independence in the near future. Assuming that these vehicles are one day deemed safe for passengers, they have a lot of potential. I dream of the day when I can hop in a car and it’ll take me wherever I want whenever I please – I love the idea of no longer relying on public transportation or on others to get around!

You can read the full article about these racers here. I’d be more than thrilled to get the chance to do some car racing! This idea seems more amusing to me given that I’ve never driven before. If anyone’s interested and brave enough to give me this opportunity please let me know – I’m up for it!