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

Jason Fayre

Meet Jason

In this video you will see Jason, the National Lead: Accessibility and Assistive Technology at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), discuss his career history, the obstacles he faced advancing his career and how he overcame them.

1. Please state your name and job title?

Jason: My name is Jason Fayre and I work as National Lead: Accessibility and Assistive Technology for the CNIB which is the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

2. Please describe your current employment.

Jason: I've been in this role since July of 2014. My job consists of supporting all of our staff across the country who use assistive technologies mainly JAWS and braille displays, some Zoom Text. And so, I'm the point of contact for support if they have issues with any of the systems that we use across the CNIB. I also evaluate any new system that we are going to deploy across the organization to make sure that it's accessible and to come up with solutions if it's maybe not as accessible as it should be.

3. What other jobs have you had?

Jason: Prior to my current position I held several roles. So, in 1997- I'm Canadian, I was born in Canada but in 1997, I moved to the U.S, the United States, to work in Silicon Valley which is in northern California near San Jose, San Francisco area, working for a company called Arkenstone, (Inc.) who developed optical character recognition systems for blind people. I did technical support for them.

After that I worked for Sun Microsystems, (Inc.), also in Silicon Valley. I worked for them for about five years. And then in 2004 I moved to Colorado to work for the Colorado Center for the Blind which is a training center, an independence training center for blind adults. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and for several years I worked for Freedom Scientific (LLC) now VFO Group, who is the company who makes JAWS, the screen-reading software.

4. At what age did you begin to work (for pay or as a volunteer)?

Jason: I started work fairly young. My first job was when I was around 16 years old, I worked during the summer for the Manitoba Department of Education. As a trainer I taught much younger kids how to use computers-- at the time they were apple 2, very old apple 2 machines, but that was my first job.

My first full-time job was after I graduated I worked for an internet provider for a couple years doing technical support.

5. Could you describe the nature of your visual impairment.

Jason: I am totally blind and have been since birth. I have little bit of light perception in one eye, my left eye. My eye condition is what's called ROP, Retinopathy of prematurity.

6. What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges you encountered finding or advancing in your career?

Jason: I would say the biggest obstacle or challenge that I've found in looking for jobs is frankly people's attitudes. I think people don’t understand blindness, a lot of people are very scared by it.

I think the way that I've been able to overcome that is just by being as competent and confident as I possibly can be without being arrogant. A good example of that is when I was going to go work for Sun Microsystems (Inc.). I had a pretty good idea of the products I was going to be asked to work with and support. Because when I worked for Sun my job had nothing to do with blindness, it was supporting mainstream server products. So, I made it a point to learn absolutely everything I could possibly learn about these products. I read manuals cover to cover. I mean who does that? I read the manuals, I read online articles, I read support forum discussions, I read as much as I can possibly do. And so, when I went into that interview, I was able to speak confidently about the products. I was able to speak from a position of knowledge and I think I was able to have the employers sort of look past the blind person to the person that was capable of doing the job. And I ended up getting that job.