Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Scott TruaxI am delighted to post this message as the majority of my career has found me speaking with families about the importance of focusing on skills that lead to employment. As you and your child travel together through the school system there will be many terms and phrases that may seem foreign to you. Transition plans, expanded core curriculum, and assistive technology are all important terms that need to be understood because they have a direct impact on employment. It is our hope that you may use both the FamilyConnect™ and APH CareerConnect® websites to assist you in navigating your local school system. With October bringing National Disability Employment Awareness month, it is a time for a sharp focus on the important role families play in this effort.

It is understood that most children grow up and in some fashion end up employed. Adults with vision loss hold jobs in almost every imaginable occupation including medicine, science, business, and engineering to name just a few. Employment may occur through careful planning, connections and networking, or just plain happenstance. Employers also have a natural expectation that employees will be able to get to work, use the equipment found in that setting, and be a part of a team.

Individuals with vision loss may face barriers to these natural expectations. For instance, have they learned the necessary travel skills, and if so, is the job located on a transportation system? Is the equipment adaptable and will the new employee know how to use them? Will co-workers react in a normal way or will the new employee with vision loss encounter unexpected social challenges? These are all issues in which you and your child’s educators play a major role in preparing your children. But, take heart! The path to employment has been paved by many highly successful people, many of whom may be contacted through the use of the mentor component within APH CareerConnect.

With this blog, hopefully, we can open a dialogue in which we can talk about how children with vision loss can grow up and become successfully employed in jobs or careers they are good at doing and really enjoy. You may wonder how someone with vision loss is able to do typical tasks at work. I invite you to visit the CareerConnect virtual worksites to see adapted work settings. As well, you may view videos showing visually impaired employees in both office and retail environments. If you are still wondering about some things after seeing the worksites and/or viewing the videos, this would be a good time to connect with one of our CareerConnect mentors to do an informational interview and ask them your questions.

CareerConnect has many audio interviews of adults with vision loss who discuss their careers with teens and also has over 30 Success Stories that will inspire you. FamilyConnect has content that speaks to how you, as a parent or family member, can encourage your child to develop their skills and independence at every age. Another tip we’d like to encourage you with is to use the FamilyConnect message boards to communicate with each other as questions arise.

It is important that we encourage the development of skills and independence at an early age. Through the use of available resources you can enjoy a journey you never thought possible—negotiating the pathway to independence for your child and realizing that most anything they can imagine is possible!