Careers – Becoming an employed person

“What do you do?” is one of the first questions we, as adults, are likely to be asked when meeting someone new. Working, earning a living, making a contribution, having connections, and as SVRC Psychologist Geoff Bowen declares, “being a tax payer” is an important goal for students with vision impairments.

Career Education, particularly for students with vision impairments, doesn’t begin in Year 10 with “Work Experience”. Career Education begins in early childhood with input from parents/carers and Early Childhood Educators, long before the child begins school!

For example, can the child find and identify their belongings, walk to the letter box to check for mail, use a stapler and hole punch, answer the phone, ask for assistance when needed? Does the child have good eye contact and body language? Does the child have chores to do each day that contribute to their household, such as unloading the dishwasher or feeding the dog? Has the child been with you to your workplace? Do you chat about different kinds of jobs and work places e.g. shop or office work, teaching, manual labour, law? Is the child an interesting and interested participant in a conversation?

Career Education is an important component of the educational program for students with vision impairments – and part of the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Career education may be defined as the knowledge, skills and attitudes which allow students to gain and maintain employment.

Research suggests that whilst students with vision impairments can achieve well academically at school and university, employment rates are lower than for the general population.

“In 2012 58% of respondents are unemployed not by their own choice (63% in 2007). Among the wider Australian population the percentage of people who are unemployed not by their own choice is 14%. Thus, people who are blind or have low vision who want a job, are four times more likely to be unemployed compared to the general population.” (Vision Australia Employment Research Survey Report, 2012)

Whilst these unemployment statistics are shameful, there is a slight improvement from 2007 to 2012, hopefully indicative of the beginnings of a positive trend. This may reflect a greater understanding of the importance of career education in pre-school and school, improved accessibility and more efficient use of technology, changing attitudes by employers, and heightened drive and determination by young people with vision impairments to gain employment.

And certainly, specialist educators in vision impairment will encourage parents/carers and teachers to prepare children and young people for their “next environment”; that is to prepare children for the transition from home to pre-school, from pre-school to school, and from school to work or study, by thinking about the skills that will be required in that next setting.

Career Education Resources

  • “Working as a person who has a vision impairment” – hear people with vision impairments describe the skills and qualities they believe are necessary to secure and maintain successful employment. (coming soon)
  • Employment 101 by Emily White (coming soon)
  • Links to Careers Education by Emily White (coming soon)
  • Career-related resources – agencies and facilities (coming soon)
  • Career education curriculum (coming soon)
  • How school students can find a career path (coming soon)
  • The interview: Some thoughts
  • Tips for applying online (coming soon)
  • To disclose your vision impairment? Or not …
  • Graeme Innes – keynote presentation from Australia’s former Disability Discrimination Commissioner – Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (mp3)
  • Erin Shale – presentation from Balwyn High School’s Career Teacher (mp3)

Other great resources include:

  • Career Connect – from the American Foundation for the Blind
  • JobAccess (an Australian site) which details funding for work-related modifications and services
  • Transition Planning for Success in Adult Life – from Perkins School for the Blind

For more information, please contact us.