Challenging attitudes and perceptions is a pretty hard business and changing, can at times, be very frustrating and long winded. If there was an easy way to do it then I think we wouldn’t be talking about problems in accessing services and employment opportunities.
Despite the issues that we’ve discussed so far in this series, there are very good examples of where many visually impaired people have been successful in gaining and retaining work. Sectors such as teaching, advice workers, administrators, self-employment and project management are areas where people have gained some good success. Frustrating as it may be, many people have still managed to break through the barriers and seek out various opportunities.
How is this achieved then? Well, a certain amount of being in the right place at the right time is true here, but it is often a case of putting yourself in areas where opportunities may arise. It’s a bit hit and miss and for many it can be extremely frustrating when no ‘job possibilities’ come around.
Whereas many advisors may say keep open to everything, it is potentially more prudent to have focused plans prepared so that you can target particular areas. For instance, if you want to work in advice work, then build into your objectives some voluntary work at a number of relevant centres; for example organisations that deal in your area of interest.
Arm yourself with as many applicable skills as you can. Many people do not understand that we have good and relevant skills. Relevant skills may go down to being able to use various programs on a computer, have good and well-practiced communication skills and can write and compile reports/documents effectively and concisely. Communicating what we can do, can in time chip away at perceptions and knowing how hard this can be, I feel that having as many resources in our armoury as possible can help.
There is no doubt that the field of employment is a hugely frustrating one for many visually impaired people. I’ve been in situations where there has been no light at the end of any tunnel that I’ve tried and turned down and that no matter how hard I’ve battled, opportunities have not appeared. However, with a targeted, well planned approach and one that is willing to prove oneself by possibly volunteering and giving time for free, then opportunities may arise and as the saying goes ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’.
Next week, I’m going to add an additional article to this series on employment. I’ll revisit the area of public and individuals perception on visual impairment and discuss how important it is to try and tackle these in helping to develop greater chances of employment for many more visually impaired people.