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

Using this Website to Help Clients Who are Blind

The following section covers how to best use this site with two 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) 

Clients who seek you out and are congenitally blind likely have good skills or techniques for performing routine activities without vision. However, if you’re new to the field of visual disabilities, or if you see that one of your clients 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 your clients. This section also contains information about:

  • Getting around at home and in the community using orientation and mobility skills (a long cane, dog guide, or other travel aids) 
  • Communication skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking, and calculating)
  • Self-advocacy (speaking up for oneself)
The Learning and Education section is for your clients who feel they need further training in order to work. The subsection on post-secondary programs is most likely to be of interest to adults; however, if you’ve never worked with individuals who are congenitally blind, this section will teach you how they’re taught and some of the underlying challenges to learning without sight. Review the checklists for gaining entrance into either post-secondary academic or vocational programs if your clients are considering further training. 

The Preparing for Work section will be the most useful if your clients are living independently (or inter-dependently) and have completed their post-secondary education or training. These materials are designed to help individuals find out how to evaluate their current interests, abilities, values, work personality traits, and challenges to gaining employment. 

Share your experiences

For someone who is congenitally blind, the section on Career Exploration may be of significant importance. This is because without sight, it’s very difficult to learn about the vast array of jobs available – most of this information is learned by sighted people incidentally (casually) through observation. You can help your clients by ensuring they know what jobs are available. You may also be able to help by sharing what you’ve learned and observed about different jobs and the people doing them. Consider sharing information such as:

  • details about the environment in which a 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 that is physical versus mental
  • how competitive certain jobs and fields are in comparison to other areas of work
  • what the remuneration is, which may be evident by what people can purchase or afford with their salaries
  • what the observable benefits or perks are (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

The Preparing for Work section includes information on: finding job leads, producing acceptable applications and résumés , and interviewing for jobs. This is where you may want to provide direct instruction and feedback to your clients. By reviewing and editing paperwork or electronic submissions before they’re submitted, you can help your clients learn what employers are looking for and ensure that they’re able to do the job search tasks independently. Be sure to check for formatting, spelling, and grammar as these can be tricky areas for individuals who’ve never seen the paperwork produced by their competitors for jobs. Your feedback will be critical. You may also want to share examples from your own job seeking efforts, or examples of fictitious job candidates’ applications or résumés that you either read or reproduce in braille or electronic text. A heart-to-heart discussion of how a job candidate chooses what to include and how to frame what is included on such paperwork with your clients may also prove beneficial. 

Also consider sharing what you’ve observed and done yourself in terms of finding job leads and interviewing for jobs. Analyze how your vision helped you understand what jobs were available and what to do in an interview and point out those kinds of things 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. If you’re a service provider who is blind or partially sighted, consider sharing how you’ve navigated these waters without the benefit of good vision.

If you’re interested in establishing a small group-learning experience to guide your clients through preparation for work, find out more about the train-the-trainer curriculum, Pre-Employment Programme.

Working life

Finally, you’ll want to review the section that deals with job maintenance and career advancement, Working Life. This section includes information about workplace accommodations for people who are blind. Your clients may already be well-versed in the tools and equipment available to help them access the materials and information necessary to accomplish work tasks, but a careful review will ensure that this is the case. For further information and useful  links, visit the Service Providers Resources section.

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

If you have clients who have recently lost vision, they may need considerable assistance with blindness-specific skills. In addition, many of the tools and equipment people who are blind use to access the environment and information may be unfamiliar to them. Encourage them to review the Living Independently section and the Disability-specific skills training article within the Learning and Education section. 

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 for acquiring information – either through tactile means (braille and raised-line drawing or tactile graphics) or auditory media (speech output on their computers, audio book readers, talking tools and equipment). 

The tip sheets in the Communication Skills section that focus on reading, writing, listening, speaking, and calculating will be especially important to discuss with your clients. You can reach out to other specially-trained professionals in your community (rehabilitation teachers or vision rehabilitation therapists, orientation and mobility instructors, assistive technology trainers, etc.) and adults who are blind to teach or reinforce these disability-specific skills to your clients. There are also a number of excellent resource links to websites with detailed explanations of how to perform successfully in these areas without sight in the Living Independently Resources section.

The Learning and Education section may be particularly relevant if your clients feel they are unable or unprepared for employment. The subsection on post-secondary programs includes information about participation in post-secondary academic or vocational programs. (This is also where you’ll find the information about disability-specific skills training that was mentioned previously.) Before attending any post-secondary program, you’ll want to encourage your clients to complete the checklists for gaining entrance into programs of study. 

The job search

Although your clients may have worked as sighted individuals, they need to be encouraged to read through the Preparing for Work section, to consider how to perform a job search as a person without vision. In this section, your clients will be able to learn specifics about finding job leads, producing acceptable applications and résumés, and interviewing. You may want to help by sharing examples of weak and strong applications or résumés, reviewing materials your clients produce, and role playing interviews with them to bolster their self-confidence through practice. If you’re a service provider who is blind or partially sighted, consider sharing how you’ve managed job seeking logistics without the benefit of good vision.

If you’re interested in establishing a small group-learning experience to guide your clients through the preparation for work, review the train-the-trainer curriculum, Pre-employment programme.

Working life

The Working Life section is where your clients can find information about job accommodations for people who are blind and tips for maintaining and advancing in a career as an individual without sight. Also, encourage your clients to visit the Success Stories section​ – interviews with workers who are blind or partially sighted and in many cases with their employers as well. They can learn how these individuals without sight have led successful careers, the tools and techniques they use 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 blind realize that they, too, can succeed at work.  


Service Provider Resources

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

More information

Success Stories

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

Visit Success Stories