A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Using this Website to Help Relatives Who are Blind

The following section covers how to best use this site with 2 different groups. Individuals who are congenitally blind (born with no vision) and individuals who are adventitiously blind (have lost all or most vision later in life). 

Adults who are congenitally blind (born with no vision)

If the person you’re concerned about is congenitally blind, he or she likely has good skills or techniques for performing routine activities without vision. However, if you see that he or she is unable to perform daily chores (housekeeping, shopping, meal planning and preparation) or take care of personal needs (health and hygiene) independently, you may want to review the Living Independently section with him or her. This section also contains information about:
  • Getting around at home and in the community (orientation and mobility)
  • Communication skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking, and calculating)
  • Self-advocacy (speaking up for yourself) to remind individuals who have been out of work or school for prolonged periods of what constitutes good self-advocacy and how to demonstrate those skills

The Learning and Education section is one to review if your friend or family member feels he or she needs further training in order to work. The sub-section on post-secondary programs is most likely to be of interest and you’ll want to review the checklists for gaining entrance into either post-secondary academic or vocational programs. 

Likely the most important section to your friend or family member will be Preparing for Work. For those who are already living independently and have completed their post-secondary education or training, this section will help your family member or friend find out how to evaluate his or her current interests, abilities, values, work personality traits, and challenges to gaining employment. 

For someone who is congenitally blind, the section on Career Exploration may be of critical importance. Without sight, it is very difficult to learn about the vast array of jobs available – most of this information is learned by sighted people incidentally or casually through observation. Please encourage your family member or friend to spend time going through this important section. 

Share your own experiences

You may be able to help by sharing what you’ve learned about different jobs and the people doing them. For example, through observation (or without conscious effort for subtle information) you’ve likely learned about:

  • the environment in which the job likely occurs
  • the types of tools and equipment people use on the job
  • how the workers in that profession tend to dress
  • how much time and effort workers expend in physical versus mental activities
  • how competitive certain jobs and fields are in comparison to other areas of work
  • what the remuneration is in different career fields (which is in evidence by what people can purchase or afford with their salaries)
  • what the observable benefits or perks are in jobs (private cars or jets versus a free meal, for example, as a difference between the CEO of an international company and a restaurant worker)

The job search

This section includes information on finding job leads, producing acceptable applications and résumés or CVs, and interviewing for jobs. This is where you may want to provide direct assistance by reviewing and editing paperwork or electronic submissions before they’re submitted. Be sure to check for formatting, spelling, and grammar – an employer may decide whether to do an interview based on the paper (or electronic) trail a job candidate leaves and this is difficult for individuals who’ve never seen the paperwork (hard copy or electronic) produced by their peers. 

You may also want to share examples from your own job seeking efforts, such as old applications or résumés. You can either read them or reproduce them in braille or electronic text to help someone who may never have seen another person’s job-related paperwork gain an understanding of what such documentation tells an employer about a job candidate. Share how you chose what to include and how to frame what you included with the person you are trying to help. 

You’ll also want to share what you’ve observed and done yourself in terms of finding job leads and interviewing for jobs. Analyse how your vision helped you understand what jobs were available and what to do in an interview and point those kinds of things out to the job seeker. This is not to suggest that you insist your way is the “right” way, rather this is to suggest that your way is “one” way to approach the job search. Encourage your friend or relative to ask the same of others to get a range of opinions.

Working life

Review the Working Life section to learn about job maintenance and career advancement. This section includes information about workplace accommodations for people who are blind. Your friend or family member may be well-versed in the tools and equipment available to help him or her access the materials and information necessary to accomplish work tasks, but a careful review will ensure that that’s the case. Review the resources section for more information.

Adults who are adventitiously blind (all or most vision lost later in life) 

If your friend or relative has recently lost vision, he or she may need considerable assistance with independent living skills and the tools and equipment that people who are blind use to access the environment and information. Therefore, you’ll want to carefully review the Living Independently section, the Learning and Education article entitled Disability-specific Skills Training, and the article in the Working Life section that describes workplace accommodations for people who are blind.  

Growing up with vision and suddenly or even gradually losing that vision can be traumatic and frightening. Individuals who become blind later in life may already have literacy skills, albeit print literacy skills, and they will need to learn new systems and tools for acquiring information – either through tactile (braille and raised-line drawing or tactile graphics) or auditory (speech output on their computers, audio book readers, talking tools and equipment) media. 

The tip sheets in the Communications Skills section that focus on reading, writing, listening, speaking, and calculating will be especially important to review. There are also a number of links to websites with detailed explanations of how to perform successfully in these areas without sight in the Living Indepedently Resources section. If you live in a country with good rehabilitation services, a visit to your local rehabilitation agency may prove advantageous to your friend or relative as they may be able to provide in-home or residential training to assist newly blinded individuals with training in communication skills, orientation and mobility, and home and personal management. 

The Learning and Education section may be particularly relevant if your friend or family member feels that they're unable or unprepared to return to work. The sub-section on post-secondary programs includes content related to disability-specific skills training as well as information about participation in post-secondary academic programs or vocational programs. 

Remember to reach out to professionals in your community and/or other adults who are blind to learn who can teach your family member or friend the disability-specific skills they will need to be successful in post-secondary training or work. Before attending a post-secondary program, the person you are concerned about will want to complete the post-secondary preparation checklists in preparation for attending programs of study. There are two checklists in this section, one for vocational programs and one for academic programs. 

The job search

Although your friend or family member may have worked as a sighted individual, he or she will need to be encouraged to read through the Preparing for Work section, to understand how to perform a job search as a person without vision. This section will help reinforce good work habits and identify any transferable skills the person has, while helping him or her to understand how to present competently as an individual without sight. The sub-sections: finding jobs, producing acceptable applications and résumés or CVs, and interviewing tips are also important to review. You may want to help by reviewing materials your friend or family member produces and role playing interviews with him or her. Your positive engagement in this process will be extremely important.

Working life

The Working Life section provides tips for maintaining and advancing in a career as an individual without sight. You’ll also want to visit the Success Stories section – interviews with workers who are blind or partially sighted and, in many instances, with their employers. You can learn how these individuals without sight have led successful careers, the tools and techniques they have used to be competitive, and what their employers think of them. Often, it’s by listening to how others have overcome blindness that individuals who are adventitiously blinded realize that they too, can succeed at work.​​

Friends & Family Resources

Find useful links to organizations, programs, directories, and more.

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Success Stories

Check out these interviews with people who are blind or partially sighted enjoying meaningful careers.

Visit Success Stories