Getting There and Taking Care: Using the VisionAware Website to Prepare for and Maintain Employment
Developed by Alicia Wolfe
Teens and young adults with visual impairments need to develop a set of skills before interviewing for and accepting a job. Obviously, having the qualifications for the job—along with employability skills and soft skills—is essential. However, there is another set of interrelated skills that directly contributes to a teen obtaining, maintaining, and advancing in a position: “getting there and taking care” skills. Getting there and taking care skills are those that will help the teen land the job and ultimately help him or her to maintain it. The role of the professional is to ensure that these skills are taught in advance of an employment opportunity.
The provision of instruction in career skills alone is not going to be sufficient to prepare teens with vision loss for employment. Consider how confidence in one’s home life and personal health is often reflected in a person’s productivity and attitude at work. Basic independent living skills also contribute to success at work. For instance, being able to contribute (by baking cookies, for instance) to a social event at work will help a new hire assimilate into the work place and send positive messages to colleagues. Young adults with vision loss need to schedule and participate in their eye exams. They also need to identify when a change in their vision may impact them at work and how to address this kind of change with their supervisor. Teens need strategies for being able to work under pressure and to know that it is okay (in some situations) to laugh at their mix-ups. Humor is actually an important soft skill, but may be something students need more instruction in.
Furthermore, teens with vision loss need to have strong orientation and mobility skills so they can travel to and for their job. Knowledge of the reasonable accommodations one will need at work to perform the duties of a job—such as asking for a later start time due to public transportation schedules—is essential. Thinking ahead, teens need to know what resources are available for additional rehabilitation training once they’ve graduated from high school and where they can seek advice from successful adults with visual impairments.
These 10 lessons will assist professionals in instructing students in the getting there and taking care skill set. The lessons are based on the American Foundation for the Blind VisionAware website, which provides resources for independent living with vision loss. Students will use the information on the website as a means to develop a career and life planning resource file. Prior to beginning the lessons, students will need to orient themselves to the website and learn to navigate using the website’s six main tabs: Your Eye Condition, Emotional Support, Everyday Living, Working Life, For Seniors, and Get Connected. In addition, each student will need to set up an electronic or tactile resource file in which to store information during the lessons.