Job searching is a stressful process. From writing cover letters to composing yourself during an interview, it can be a challenging and nerve-wracking experience for anyone. However, for a subset of Central Florida’s population, there are substantial obstacles to full-time employment. According to the American Foundation For the Blind, 70 percent of blind adults are unemployed. In Florida, where nearly 500,000 people are legally blind, that is a significant amount of the population out of work.
Many individuals suffer from different degrees of visual impairment, from complete blindness to being able to distinguish darkness from light. Despite these challenges, blind individuals are still talented people with a lot of skills and talents to offer employers. The difficulty is convincing businesses that they can still contribute to the companies’ bottom lines with a disability.
Job Training in Orlando
In Orlando, the Division of Blind Services helps blind individuals get help with the entire job searching process, from career training through workplace etiquette. For example, people interested in information technology have found that they can have a career in programming or engineering using voice-activated software; they can do everything other works can do with a regular computer. New technology developments empower blind people to have stable careers that fit their passions.
Lighthouse, another organization located in Central Florida serving the Orlando community, offers other job training programs as well. They offer two specific vocational training tracks: training for customer service roles and call center positions, two areas where blind workers often excel. In the client service program, employees use e-learning tools to cover industry terminology, customer service best practices, developing voice quality and tone and building a rapport with the client. In the call center training, students use technology to simulate a real call center. Workers take faux calls with Skype, participate in role-playing to practice their de-escalation skills and participate in group discussions.
Interview Process and Accommodations
Many people are afraid of how potential employers will react to blindness and any stereotypes they may have. The Division of Blind Services site has information and guidance on how to handle interviews and questions from hiring managers on necessary accommodations.
Many human resources departments have not worked with blind individuals before may assume accommodations are cost prohibitive, by explaining the disability and how it's managed, such as through the use of a service animal, their fears can be calmed.
Benefits for Employers
Besides access to a broader talent base, employers who hire blind workers may be eligible for other benefits. For instance, there are several federal tax incentives for hiring people with disabilities that can decrease the company’s tax burden.
Florida has a sizeable population of individuals are legally blind and in need of work. They have skills and talents that can contribute to a company’s success if given the chance. Through the use of technology, local Central Florida organizations are providing students with job skills training so they can secure life-sustaining work. Many of these programs put individuals on the path to independence and financial security.