[Social-sciences-list] How and When to Let Prospective Employers Know About Vision Loss
vincent.martin at gatech.edu
Sat Apr 27 23:19:26 UTC 2013
When I first had major vision losses due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, I
approached it in several different ways. This was twenty-four years ago, so
we weren't using the Internet for job hunting. I literally had ten
different resumes and at least that many cover letter templates for use. I
could chat with a person at a job fair and know which of the resumes to
give them. This was my in person methodology and it had to be modified
significantly in other situations.
When I was looking through the traditional method, such as using the Want
Ads and career service center on campus, I never let anyone know that I had
a visual impairment. I was barely approaching the legal blindness level
then and could readily move around and look like I did not have a
disability. My goal was to secure the interview and then let them know that
I had a disability later. I say this, because this was before the ADA was
passed and I had a job offer from a major US employer rescinded after they
found out about my visual disability. They basically told me that they did
not want a engineer that was going blind.
When I mailed resumes and cover letters out, I avoided letting them know
about my visual problem, but later changed that. I decided to always let
them know ahead of time, because I had some accomplishments that were
directly related to my visual acuity and athletics that I wanted them to see
as positive accomplishments.
Due to the unique nature of the area that I ended up working in,
Rehabilitation Engineering, it then became a necessity to let any potential
employer know about my disability ahead of time. I then saw it as an
attribute that helped more than it hurt me.
With all of that being said, I always disclose ahead of time now. Since a
full 100 percent of all jobs I have gotten since I was out of high school
are directly related to knowing a person, I prefer people to know who I
actually am ahead of time. If they are going to discriminate or pre-judge
me, I figure I did not want to work with them anyway.
I have an acquaintance who is a totally blind Chemistry professor and he
applied for 150 teaching positions before his current school interviewed
him. They knew exactly who they were getting ahead of time when they called
him for an interview, which he feels made his interview all the more easier
to complete with confidence.
I think everyone has to decide on a personal level and with each position
what approach to take. Since I make my living specifically in the
accessibility and technology arena, it helps me immensely and allows me to
fill a vital niche by being blind and letting people know it. I am
currently working for one of the largest Technology companies in the world
on a serious Usability and Accessibility problem and it was my knowledge in
conjunction with my actual experience as a blind Human Factors and Usability
practitioner that had them seek me out.
From: Social-sciences-list [mailto:social-sciences-list-bounces at nfbnet.org]
On Behalf Of Christine Szostak
Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2013 6:21 PM
To: social-sciences-list at nfbnet.org; NFB Science and Engineering Division
Subject: [Social-sciences-list] How and When to Let Prospective Employers
Know About Vision Loss
I am on the job market right now, and am wondering if others hear could
share when they noted their vision loss (e.g. during the application, after
the application but before the interview, during the interview, after
accepting the job...) with prospective employers. Also, how did you approach
the subject? In other words, how did you let the prospective employer know
of your vision loss (e.g., terminology used, how it was brought up...).
Christine M. Szostak
Doctoral Candidate and Research Consultant
Language Perception Laboratory
Department of Psychology, Cognitive Area
The Ohio State University
szostak.1 at osu.edu
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