Disclosure Employment And Blindness


Disclosure Employment And Blindness

     "New City Inc, Linda speaking. How may I direct your call?" The voice on the phone sounded friendly, encouraging, willing to help. A good beginning. I
knew this company would have several jobs I would be interested in and qualified for. I had done my research, but the question was, would they see it this way? Would they accept me as I am, blind?

     I answered back, "Human Resources Department, please." I sounded nice too. You have to be polite, while self confidently striving to be concise in getting your need or point across.

     “I'll connect you, one moment please."

     "Thank you." I said thinking, now there was a job that most likely would not require sight. A fact that for several reasons I would not comment on at
this juncture; I couldn't be certain of her reaction if I told her about my blindness and that I knew several blind people who worked this type of job every day.

     "HR, Rebecca." Said another female voice, not as bubbly, but not unfriendly.

     "Hi, I wish to inquire about a couple of openings I saw listed." This first question was easy to voice, but I couldn't help the slow tightening to my nerves. I needed to find out if there would be any kind of on the spot testing, like for typing or a hard copy question and answer test. I needed to have the proper alternatives worked out before I came in. The average sighted applicant didn't have to concern themselves with this and I wasn't sure just how far I'd have to go with this conversation before I would need to divulge the reasons why I needed to know.

e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. “This is a very interesting subject. I look forward to reading thoughts of
others who respond to the issue.

It's always been a question for me...not so much whether to tell a
prospective employer that I am blind, but exactly when. For those of us who
attended schools for the blind, through high school, simply the name of the
school, if placed on a resume could close a door, before the prospective
employer even had a chance to read the resume. So, in that situation, I
believe I would eliminate the name of the school and simply list my
education history. Then, if my resume receives enough attention to afford
me the opportunity for an interview, I believe I'd try to get as much
information as possible, regarding the employer's employment history, when
it comes to anyone with a disability. That could help me determine when and
how to present my blindness.

Let me say that these thoughts are pretty much speculation for me, because
I've had two jobs in my adult life, and each employer knew that I was blind
before the interview. The second person, (a lady who is now a good friend),
told me later that she was apprehensive about having a blind person working
for her. She didn't know how I would accomplish the job. But, after
meeting me and talking about the job and my experience, she thought it would
be worth looking into further. So, she did call at least one of my
references and I got the job. So, I guess I believe that if I can get far
enough to receive an interview, that would be the time to disclose the fact
that I'm blind and ask for the opportunity to discuss the position and my
qualifications, in person.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, PA

FROM ME: “Disclosure sure indeed can happen within a resume, a document that will many times precede you/us to a face to face meeting or interview. Omitting the name of your school, if it was a school for the blind, is a tactic. But a larger question I have, do you need a resume for all or most or just some jobs? How many of them does the average person send out before getting an interview or job? What is the resume to the employer?”

**2. In a scenario like this, it would be appropriate for anyone (with or without
vision) to ask what the application process would be like. One could simply
express the need to be properly prepared. I would recommend NOT disclosing
a disability, if at all possible, until an interview is scheduled. Then, I
recommend disclosing the disability before the interview in a discrete
manner to minimize any initial awkwardness.”

Mary Ellen Ottman (Daytona, Florida USA)

**3. “I don't have enough information to give a definite answer to this question. I probably would not disclose on the phone during an inquirery unless logistics
had to be worked out in order to take a test. However, I would disclose if an offer to interview me was made on the phone. This would avoid the element
of surprise.”

Angela Farmer (USA)

**4. “I have applied for several jobs at different levels (e.g. entry level, professional and managerial), and I have had mixed success. Nevertheless, the longer I'm around the employment and hiring arenas, the more I feel strongly that we as blind people need to wait to disclose our blindness until it's necessary
to do so. Let me illustrate my reasons with some examples:

In 1996, I applied for a managerial job in South Florida; at the time, I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I knew I was qualified per the job advertisement which appeared in a professional trade magazine, and I knew that there would be lots of other applicants. In this situation, I elected to hold off informing
the prospective employer as long as possible. The first round of interviews were conducted by telephone, and I ranked high enough to score a face-to-face interview in South Florida. At this point, I had to make a decision. I didn't want to tell them so soon that they could get out of interviewing me, but
I didn't want them to be totally surprised when I strolled in with my dog guide. Ultimately, I did not inform them of my blindness when they offered me the interview. First, I accepted the interview and arranged travel arrangements through their travel agency. On the same day that I received my airline
tickets to South Florida, I called the Administrative Secretary of the man doing the hiring, and I asked her to have someone call me. When they called back, I informed them that I would like to request either tape, computer diskette or Braille for any written materials which would be required for me to
use in preparation for the interview. I also told the person that if there was to be a written examination, I would like to discuss accommodations. I did not volunteer any information about the needed accommodations or about my blindness. (Of course, they could have guessed that I had a visual impairment, but I didn't mention it directly. Instead, I stuck to the issue of accommodations.) Ultimately, I arrived in my hotel in South Florida, and there was a big packet of Braille materials. (The materials were terribly transcribed, but the real point was to handle the disclosure in a safe way so that they
weren't surprised at the interview, and I wasn't out on a limb so early in the process that discrimination would be hard to prove.)

My second example is as a manager making the hiring decision. I was the Director of a department (the same one in South Florida referenced above), and I was hiring for a professional-level job which required a great deal of independence and mobility. I was conducting a national selection, so the first
round of interviews were by phone. I remember that we interviewed six applicants by phone, and one man stood out for all of us. He had a great resume, a well-written cover letter. He answered all of the interview questions well. His experience was good. His delivery by phone was great. In short, he
was without a doubt the front-runner among the interview candidates at this point. At the conclusion of this man's interview, when we gave each candidate an opportunity to say anything useful or ask questions, he cleared his throat and disclosed the fact that he was totally blind. I can tell you that everyone on my screening panel, sitting around that phone, was totally stunned. The guy nailed the interview, but by disclosing his disability when he did, he really made it hard for us. We didn't want to discriminate, but we all felt that sight was a prerequisite for this job. As a result, we were in the difficult position of having to proceed with the screening process, knowing that our number one candidate probably couldn't do
the job. In my opinion, we would have been better off not knowing until the guy was locked in for his in-person interview and/or until he showed up on our doorstep. Then, we wouldn't have been worried about accidentally discriminating, and we wouldn't have been put in a position of having to plan our
second-level interviews knowing that one of the candidates was blind, a fact which could have led us to skew our interview which would have been illegal under the non-discrimination requirements of the ADA. Ultimately, the guy was scheduled to come down for an interview, and he withdrew for personal reasons,
but knowing about his disability really made me uncomfortable as the hirer.

So I guess I'm saying that we need to be strategic. I think finding out about the hiring process ahead of time is critical. That will give us the opportunity to decide when and how to disclose our visual impairment. I would say that delaying that disclosure may seem like hiding something from the employer, but let me assure you: employers don't need to know until they need to worry about accommodations, and if they're worried about not violating anti-discrimination laws, then they probably would rather not know too soon.”

Ron Brooks (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA)

**5. “I'm presently looking for a new job. The people I'm working with - a
school for the deaf (I'm legally blind and hearing impaired) - advised me
right off that I was not to make any mention of my disabilities on my
resume. Let the employers judge me according to my skills and abilities
first, then, when they meet me, they'll find out. As far as the other
stuff, like typing tests and written exams, I had that problem too. When
my husband explained that I couldn't take a regular typing test and the
special arrangements had to be made, they turned me down for the
interview, which they had already scheduled.”

Patricia Hubschman (New York USA)

**6. “Blindness is a problem no matter when the employer finds this out. There is no good time or bad time to announce that you are blind, but if you have done
your research on the company and the job that you are applying for it is a plus. I feel that one should get the blindness issue off the table as soon as possible and at the same time, sell yourself with what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. So confidence and a good visual
appearance won't be the deciding factors, they will help greatly along with your knowledge of the job you are seeking.”

R. J. Fugagli (Franklin, Pennsylvania USA)

**7. This is a dilemma that faces me daily in my search for a job. I do not
mention my status as legally blind until fairly late in the game. Why?
Because FIRST impressions matter the most. I want them to see Sylvia
Employment applicant' FIRST, not Sylvia: blind woman:

Once they see me as what I AM, a well trained, intelligent professional,
then I will give them the rest of my history: age, marital status,
disability, et cetera. If questioned about this, I simply state that my
disability is part of who I am, but not necessarily the first item on my
own agenda. I am also a gay woman, a genealogist, a writer and humorist.
These details are not germane to the job search UNLESS the company is
specifically seeking a gay woman, genealogist . writer or humorist. If a
company US actively seeking a disabled person, then, yes, my status is
mentioned within the first five sentences. You give the employer what he
wants and needs, to make a decision.”

Sylvia Stevens

FROM ME: “she makes a point of packaging oneself to meet any special criteria that the employer may be looking for; like your race, your gender, your disability status, etc. So what about this ‘selling’ of yourdisability? Good, bad, a problem now or later?”

**8. “Last winter I went to a company that finds permanent employees for other
companies, to apply for customer service jobs. I was asked what
accommodations I would need so that they could tell the company when they
called to recommend me. I told them that I would need a screen reader. Later I was told that this company did not have a screen reader on their system and wouldn't get one for another year or so. I told them that the
screen reader would only need to be on the computer that I would use. But
they made some excuse about needing to do something with the whole system. I found out later that there were already at least 2 blind people working there. So apparently if I had not allowed my blindness to be
brought up when it really wasn't relevant, I may have had a chance of
getting a job.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City Utah USA)

**9. “Well, this is an interesting question. I think I would probably
state my blindness right up front. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm blind.”

Stacy “Wisconsin USA)

FROM ME: “I do know some who feel just like Stacy, ‘Say it up front and if they have a problem with it, let’s find out right off!’ What about this as a tactic?”

**10. “When I come up against a problem like this I most often tell them up front
that I am blind. What I do next is dependent on their reactions to that

The way I figure it is that they will know I'm blind as soon as I come in
with my Guide Dog. Why surprise them? They need to know I'm blind so they
can make accommodations for my blindness. I need to know how they feel so I
can decide if it is really a job I want after hearing their reactions to my

Do I want to fight them? Is it worth it? Are there ways I can do the job
with out costing the employer time, money and man power?
I know I have the right to ask for certain accommodations but do I want to
have to force the company into this or not.

The bottom line is, I'm blind and need to know if I can even fill out the
application or not. The employer needs to know I am blind so they can
prepare a accessible format for me if they have one. If they don't they can
at least let me know that fact and I can prepare what I will need to bring
with me.

I guess this is something everyone has to decide for them self's. Myself, I
like to be up front. If things don't go my way and all the cards are on the
table I can decide if I want to fight the decision or not.”

John Fleming (near Grants Pass, Oregon USA)

**11. “This PROVOKER is interesting in that it implies that this blind person is seeking employment without accessing services from a state rehabilitation agency. Not that this is bad in any way. the more individuals can identify their strengths and locate employment that matches their interests and abilities on
their own the better. Unfortunately, I see more blind and visually impaired individuals who rely almost exclusively on the state rehabilitation agency for ideas, support, advocacy and even the application and interviewing process.

Nonetheless, the question is a good one and one that needs to be addressed for a number of reasons. How do you balance the need for an employer to know that you will require some adaptive technology or special accommodation to do your job effectively with the stigma of hiring a blind or visually impaired

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an applicant is required to make his or her access needs known to the employer prior to being hired. it has to be established that the individual could "Otherwise perform all essential functions of the job."

Of course, when working with a rehabilitation agency, often employers have been contacted by the agency and awareness presentations have been given to allow the employers to become more educated about the abilities and benefits of hiring blind people. I have found that when the agency does a good job of networking with the local work community, consumers seem to have a bit better luck at landing the job. On the other hand, I have personally landed two jobs on my own without the assistance of the agency at which I work. I guess a lot of it depends on how the individual who is blind presents themselves, how they
feel about their ability to do a certain job and how confident they are that they can negotiate accommodations without the support of a state agency.

My final thought is that individuals who are blind and visually impaired should take as much independent initiative as possible. We all need to educate employers about our abilities and erase those stereotypical attitudes about blind people being poor handicapped pencil salesmen. Share resources and information
with others and we will work together to open doors for all blind people.”

David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)

**12. “This is a delicate situation. Many of us want a job and do well while in the job. I have tried these things both ways. When I gave them the information over the phone, they stopped answering my questions and said that they would not consider me for employment. It didn't matter that I had all the problems
worked out. It even fit into my summer plans. Another time I was hired, then, told that they would not be able to use me because of liability. I fought hard to change that situation. We did reach a compromise.
I have found that showing up at the interview and surprising the employer is most effective. He/she has no time to argue or dream up nightmares. They also form an opinion while I am sitting there. I feel much more in control of the situation. Since I have a portfolio that goes to all interviews, I
can show work I have completed. I definitely keep as much information to myself until the interview.”

Marcia Beare, M.S.W. (Martin, Michigan, USA)

FROM ME: “Having a portfolio full of samples of your work sounds good. But that doesn’t work for all of us. So how about this- When you are at the employers waiting for the interview, have something with you to keep yourself busy, doing something constructive. If you are a Braille user take either a note taker and work on it or a Braille magazine to read (one that relates to the job or is professional in nature). If you are a low vision user, take a book or magazine relating to the nature of the job that you are applying for. Could you also use these items during the interview as well?”

**13. “This is a discussion that I predict you will see a variety of answers spanning
the spectrum from "revealing your disability from the beginning" to "don't
reveal your disability at all and deal with the consequences yourself".

I fall somewhere in the middle. I have had enough experience over the past
year or so to know that it doesn't seem to matter when you reveal your
disability. Heck, I've had interviews with people who actually have disabled
in their families and I didn't get a break.

Here’s the general procedure I follow when I go into a job search/interview
situation. I have been going for positions that are Customer Service/Call
Center based in the medical field/insurance field which are my two interests
and in which I have the most experience. When I first contact a potential
employer, I send them an e-mail resume and await their response. If necessary,
I call to get a specific person's name I need to direct the resume to. I wait
a few days and contact the company to be sure they've received my resume. No
mention is made of my disability on the resume or on the phone.

When I am called for an interview, I ask for directions via the public
transportation system here in Boston, which is the T (subway). Nine times out
of ten, the people have no clue exactly how to get to their job site using
public transit, but if I get an address from them, I can go online and figure
things out. I ask them for a description of their building and sometimes their
description is so far off, I have to wonder if *they* are the ones with the
visual disability. If I cannot get to their location via public transit or if
I cannot determine the likelihood of this, I ask them what public transit
passes by their building. Here, too, I am often disappointed and I've tried
both courses of action here - telling them I'm disabled and need to know any
info they can give me so I can find out if transportation goes by and trying to
figure it out myself/with my husband's assistance. More often than not, this
revelation of my disability has proven to be a slight setback on the phone. I
trust my 6th sense and when their tonal quality changes, my suspicions are
confirmed. They're thinking to themselves "If she can't see well, how will she
get to my site and how will she do the job she's applying for?" When I don't
tell them I'm visually disabled and I ask for specific info about the area
I'll be looking for, they get just as flustered because they can't come up
with the info I need.

Then, on the day of the interview, all gloves are off. I enter the site using
a white cane and I don't have to say a word. Some job sites have asked me to
fill out an application, which, of course is not possible w/o help. I've asked
the person giving me the application to help, but she/he pawns it off on the
interviewer. I watch them go back in the interview's office and tell the
person that I can't fill out the application and that I'm ready to be seen. I
can only imagine what is going through the head of the interviewer now: "What?
She can't fill out an application? This really can't make her a qualified
candidate, but I don't make it look good, she's liable to sue me." I even
had one interviewer who revealed her whole life story during an interview
telling me how much trials and tribulations she'd gone through and how she was
so sympathetic to my experiences. I didn't get the job though. They made some
excuse that they had such a small customer service center that they couldn't
dedicate a cubicle just for my uses (I needed a CCTV to read documents they
didn't have on the PC that were a crucial part of the job). I suggested
finding a special place for the CCTV in the center that wasn't in a cubicle,
but they said they couldn't come up with a spot that wouldn't compromise my
call times. *heavy sigh*

My point is that it doesn't seem to matter whether or not you reveal your
blindness. When you walk into the interview with a white cane, at least here
in Boston, it seems to act more like a lynch than a cane. I got a 6 month
internship at a local insurance company that was more concerned about their
call times than they were the happiness of their customers. After talking with
my career counselor about this issue, we decided to try and talk to the
company about modifying the call times so I had a better chance of reaching
their goals. I had a very poor interface with my PC and I kept falling just
shy of their expectations and so I was never offered a job. This despite
numerous customers writing to my supervisor telling of how helpful and
sympathetic I was to their needs. So, even experience isn't enough to get
employers past your disability. I feel that it is fair once we start discussing
the job and its duties that I tell them where my disability comes into play,
but I always tell them of how we can make my disability a lesser factor and
that does seem to help some, but I question whether or not they remember my
efforts after they interview others and make their final decision. Its allot
easier to hire someone where there's no difficulties than me even if I'm
equally as qualified. I've gone in for Entry Level positions with me 6 months
experience and have been told I don't have enough experience.

Something else to consider when going for jobs with a disability. What is the
prevailing attitude of disability organizations in the area. I went for
several jobs that had said they'd already talked to local disability
organizations that had told them that they wouldn't assist the company with
hiring the disabled until the company met certain environmental accommodations.
I found this to be a very distressing factor. I'd been shot down before I even
got started. I don't know exactly what the accommodations were, but it scared
the company so much - ironically it was
a company dealing with health insurance/care for the elderly - that they
didn't even get me in for an interview. We played phone tag for abut 2 months
before I finally got the heads up from my career counselor that his
organization was the one responsible for the scaring!

Anyhow, I'm no longer worried about my disability keeping me from gainful
work. I'm in the process of creating a nonprofit organization that will help
the disabled to access product package information. To learn more of this
endeavor, please go to:

I pray that my experiences are not universal, but I am afraid that the
prayers, thus far, have gone unanswered. Perhaps we should pray for those in
hiring positions for their own blindness to be lifted so that we are truly
given an equal opportunity to contribute to society.”

Shelley S. Proulx (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)

**14. “I know that I have a lot of problems with being blind and working. Whenever I go to a job interview, the person knows I'm blind a head of time. I feel
therefore they won't be put on the spot. I've never been lucky with jobs due to the ignorance of our society.”

Lisa (Mokena, Illinois USA)

**15. “How very poignant this subject matter just happens to be at this time. I have been a software engineer at a major telecommunications equipment company and find myself, at age 48, being faced with a choice of taking an early retirement or taking a risk of losing health benefits as well as pension payments and my job. I should say that I am not the only mid-life engineer faced with this dilemma at the company, but the other folks will probably land quite happily on their feet with another job in a related field. In fact, a friend of mine with much the same skill set has already been in contact with a potential employer.
Not I though, the first mistake was that the head hunters I've contacted are aware of my blindness. Big mistake obviously because there does not seem to be a job out there for me (so they say).
In a perfect world, we (blind job seekers) ought to be able to be forthright about our handicapping condition with no concern of lost opportunity. I say this because, as Bob's introductory anecdote suggests, there is a very good chance that we will need to make some provisions for an interview situation to permit us to demonstrate our skills. Furthermore, it would seem to me to be far better to "warn" perspective
interviewers of our blindness up front so as to avoid a needlessly awkward meeting where the person(s) meeting with us spend more time adjusting to the discovered handicap than discussing our experience, skills and work ethics. But, that ain't the way it is. I have found that when firing my resume off to folks that when I offer any hint of a visual handicap the e-mail never seems to get to them. At least I have not heard back from them - and some of the jobs I have applied for I am incomparably qualified to handle (in some cases I had helped write the original software for the application needing administration). I am not sure just how to grapple with this dilemma, it is very perplexing and extremely discouraging. I look forward to others' thoughts on this matter.”

Bill Gallik (Wheaton, Illinois USA)

**16. It has been my personal experience that the sooner you tell a perspective employer about a disability the better. In the past, when I have sent out cover letters and resumes, I have usually stated my visual impairment briefly and in a positive manner. Most of the job applications I have completed have
asked about such disabilities. In this case, I attached a separate sheet explaining the extent of my visual impairment and what I can do despite it such as use a computer and travel with a white cane. I have sometimes wondered if perspective employers did not contact me for an interview or once I
was interviewed, did not hire me because of my visual impairment. Yet, I still think it's better to let employers know right from the start that you have a disability so they know what to expect.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming U.S.A. abbie@wavecom.net )

FROM ME: “Most applications I’ve seen that have a question on disability, word it wherein they are asking if you have a disability or impairment which will cause you a problem in carrying out the duties of the job you are applying for. So if you have the alternatives worked out, be they non-visual or low vision in nature, if you can do the job then I say you don’t need to mention you are blind, right?”

**17. “I've had the same job, as a music therapist, for 13 years and still like it. But every once and a while I inquire about other jobs that I've seen listed in the newspaper. My strategy is to discuss my education,
professional background, etc. with whoever the help wanted ad said to call.

When the person says that they are interested in setting up an interview with me, I tell them about my blindness. My feeling is that if they want to interview me before they find out I'm blind, then they should want to interview me once they learn I'm blind. Yes, I have had several
prospective employers go into "panic mode" when they hear this. I tell them that I have lots of experience and am quite capable. I go on to tell them that I wouldn't apply for a job if I didn't realistically think I
could do it.

I've often thought of not telling a perspective employer that I was blind until I walked into the interview. It might be amusing to find out how the person would handle the news. On the other hand I don't think it's
fair to do this. I've found my strategy works well. If you tell them about your blindness as soon as you talk to the interviewer on the phone, then they can easily find a way to make the job inappropriate for you.

It is frustrating that sometimes our job choices are limited because of sighted skills that are required, location of the job or attitudes of others. Unfortunately, there are still many people who don't believe that
a person who is blind is perfectly capable of doing a job. I don't know if the Americans with Disabilities Act has been much of a help.”

Janet Ingber (Queens, New York USA)

**18. “Last year, I looked for my first new career opportunity since losing my vision three years ago. Frankly, I *never* told anyone about my disability until the last possible moment. I did not do this because I am ashamed of my disability. Instead, I didn't want to give anyone a reason to write me off before
I had a chance to convince them otherwise.

In the story below, the receptionist at the front desk doesn't need to know. She's not the one doing the hiring. The HR department doesn't need to know, unless there is a specific task, such as a skills test, that must be modified to accommodate an applicant. Pre-conceived notions are the most difficult
thing to overcome when a disabled person is looking for employment. Thus, giving as little opportunity as possible for someone to pre-judge you is usually best.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. This approach has worked for me most of the time, but sometimes, there's just no getting around people's stupidity. I actually had one guy ask me during an interview if I smoked marijuana to treat my glaucoma!! Well, guess what, I didn't waste my time worrying
about that job position after the interview.

The main thing is to behave as though your disability is just another every-day part of life, and only to bring it up to the extent that it really matters. If you seem concerned that you have a disability, it's a good bet that this will be transmitted to whomever you are speaking to for a job. Likewise,
if you project the idea that, yes, you are blind, but you are competent and only require a few reasonable accommodations to level the playing-field, that attitude will come through, too.”

David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

FROM ME: “If you were to list the most important factors in making this process work the best, what would be the top five items? {Like- Job skill readiness, good resume, attitude, etc})

**19. “I know that I have always disclosed my blindness on my resume but have made special effort in the section about other memberships and volunteer work to stress memberships in blindness organizations and any offices I have held. I believe this has helped me sometimes to get in the door
because a blind person who is active in an organization impresses many sighted people. I also know that for me I would rather be rejected on paper than face to face due to my blindness. I have still managed to get many interviews by admitting to my vision problem. I have however learned that once I get in to the interview I need to know up front what I am going to need to do the job as far as adaptive technology. I have taken to brining brochures on the software and type and speak I use with me to show the employer how I am going to do my job. It seems to help ease there minds that I am together enough to have a basic idea of what I need. Luckily in my case in there situation I have had the equipment myself so them having to buy it was not an issue. Sometimes however I have clashed on who should install my software, often there tech people want to do it and this can be a sticking point but I have learned to allow some flexibility.”

Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri USA)

FROM ME: “Listing evolvement in consumer groups is good. What other activities is good to list or not to list; besides that of actual job experience or education? What would be the maximum length a resume should be?”

**20. “I've been thinking for some time about changing to another job from my current customer service job I've had for about three years. I'll point out here that I didn't have to interview for my current position since the agency which helped me acquire it had previous experience with the company and laid the ground work sufficiently that I could show my capabilities on site and get hired for the job. The concerns and possible strategies regarding employment discussed in this PROVOKER by many of you are among the things I've thought about.

On a recent trip to Illinois to see my family my mother suggested that I've been listening to too much of the type of concerns you all have expressed. She thinks I'm selling myself short in my own ability to gain a job. She thinks somehow that being confident and acting as if no concerns exist in my mind will somehow magically make the sale with an employer. Yet it seems to me imprudent to throw caution to the wind like that, to be on the one hand concerned in my own mind and yet acting as if this doesn't matter. Maybe this "Fake it 'til you make it." approach appeals to some and may at times even work, but it seems a bit scary and perhaps foolhardy. I've actually thought about skipping this interview process altogether by starting my own business venture. Perhaps some of you have thought about this idea or would like to consider it or have experience with this concept. This sounds contradictory I know since starting a business involves taking some major risks. At least I have a computer system at home I can use as a starting
Basis. I like the idea of having many customers I have developed a relationship with and not worrying too much if one customer rejects me. This seems better than having to compete against a field of applicants I don't know, wherein even equal or superior ability may not be enough to win the contest. Any thoughts or suggestions along this line would be welcome. I'd like to pursue this at least to the point where I know whether this viable and right for me.”

Bill Outman (Daytona Beach, Florida USA

FROM ME: “In the work up to the creation of a successful business, might winning over customers also take some forethought on how the blindness card needs to be played?”

**21. “It was so interesting to read through all these responses. I particularly liked the idea of being strategic about providing information. Since my job involves assisting low-income families to gain economic stability, I see a wide variety of people being rejected for a number of reasons. I feel a little
less conspicuous. The main difference is that their reasons can usually be corrected with education, purchasing a car etc. I am definitely keep many of these observations in mind when working on advancement or supporting clients in similar situations. I have also found that volunteering some time with
an agency can be helpful. I had to bite the bullet financially, but it has also paid off in the end. Some employers relax when they discover that the exaggerated fears did not materialize. I even had one employer stand by me when the Commission for the Blind changed their minds in mid-stream and did not provide the items promised in the beginning. I have often wished that I could go back and thank that supervisor for his determination and support.”

Marcia Beare, M.S.W. (Martin, Michigan, USA)

FROM ME: “ How can volunteering, either in doing it or having done it, help in the process of job seeking; in general, for disclosure, etc.?”

**22. “Wow! What an intelligent group of readers. I am a rehabilitation counselor who happens to be legally blind. I still think that it is best not to disclose a disability any sooner than you have to. When you are scheduled for an interview, discretely mention that you have a visual impairment. I
have talked with many employers about this, and they don't appreciate the surprise element during an interview. If you disclose the disability during the application process, you risk having your application thrown out. I also believe that people with disabilities should make sure they have the

* The skills required for the job.
* A positive attitude.
* Impeccable grooming and neat, appropriate clothing. Even though I mention it last, appearance is extremely important!

A resume is more important if you are applying for a professional job. Many times, one is not required for entry level positions.

Dr. Karen Wolffe is a career counselor who works with people with disabilities. She has written a very good article about when to disclose a disability. She does not provide an opinion about when it should be done, but simply gives pros and cons.

I would be curious to know if readers prefer that a rehabilitation agency make the first contact, or do most people with disabilities prefer to contact employers directly?

In any case, people with disabilities need to make their own decisions about what they want to do. It is very important to set specific goals, and then work hard to attain them. I have had many clients who want me to tell them what jobs they should do, and then go and get the jobs for them.

A strategy that might work with some employers is to volunteer to work for a few days. If it doesn't work out, no hard feelings. Our agency sometimes sets up internships for six months. The agency pays the client a salary, and the employer has the benefit of free labor. This can work well, if the
client and agency are committed to working very hard.

I hope these thoughts are helpful.”

Mary Ellen Ottman (Daytona, Florida USA)

FROM ME: “How about this ladies question- ‘…if readers prefer that a rehabilitation agency make the first contact, or do most people with disabilities prefer to contact employers directly?…’ What has been your experience?”

**23. “I am appalled that Ron Brooks (Response 4) a blind person himself, would be uncomfortable about hiring another blind person. I have a friend who is totally blind and for years, he worked in a position that required him to do a lot of traveling around the state. When he needed to travel, his wife drove him and she was paid a salary for being his driver. So, sight isn't always necessary for a job like this.

So, if I had been in Mr. Brook's position, when the blind applicant showed up for his person to person interview, I would ask him if he would need any accommodations for traveling. It's possible this applicant may have already considered this and may already have a plan of action. If the applicant seemed unsure about this and the department for which Mr. Brooks worked did not already pay for drivers, I would ask the applicant if he would be willing to take the responsibility of finding someone to drive for him when it was necessary for him to travel. I think Mr. Brooks should have been more open-minded in this situation.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming U.S.A. abbie@wavecom.net )

**24. “This thought PROVOKER: it was an interesting one. I here in Maine, tried out on my own. That is going out looking for a job; after being a supervisor for years and worker. I put together a resume, that gave a complete history of myself. Sending out about 50 copies in Email, and letters. Received one notice to call for an interview. I ended up going with a company, Gouzie Assoc., who specializes in blind and visually impaired employment. In this I learned, not to use the
word Blindness. Instead, in the resume, I noted the things that I did, education, training, and ability. I found there was more bits for interviews. Doing also my home work on the company. Then from the first interview on the phone, to the second. I talk about the blindness and my guide. Then said,
if you allow for the personal interview, I can show you a video of what a guide dog is all about. I can show you how the blindness is not an over all issue.
To which, this allow a foot in the door. In the long and short, ended up with a job.

I think, if one has a high self esteem of him/herself, knows what they want, knows the job they are going into, not making a lot of demands for blindness, and shows how there is more of a stronger relationship with you and the company. One will go far!

Gene Stone (Portland Maine USA)

**25. “I have done both. Disclosed and not disclosed my blindness. In my past 2 jobs I haven't disclosed it. It is obvious when Ii walk in with my guide dog and use my Braille lite to make notes or look up info in the interview. I have found that not disclosing it works better for me. I can go in and discuss my
strengths and talk about the technology and ways we can work things out and they don't have a chance to try and get out of it. I am working with a job developer right now in addition to searching on the web for jobs and they are asking about accommodations but when the place doesn't have them, we
fill out apps anyway because things can be worked out. Recently there is a company that I did mention that I am a jaws user but I did it because a friend is at this company who is also a jaws user and they are doing
everything they can for him so I knew it wouldn't close a door before it could be opened and I may be getting in there at least a chance to interview. The other 2 companies interested in me also have or have had
blind people there and are big companies so I don't think the computer stuff is going to be an issue with them. I'm just playing the waiting game to find out what will fall in to place first and of course continuing the job search.”

Tina Birenbaum (Tempe, Arizona USA

**26. “the guy in response 4. said that if you don't tell an employer about your blindness ahead of time, then they might think that you were hiding it from them. I don't think that there is any reason that they should feel this way. As long as the job doesn't REALLY require vision, like driving a bus, then
it isn't relevant until and unless you request an accommodation. After all if you were qualified for the job, the employer wouldn't likely feel like you were hiding something from them if you didn't tell them ahead of time if you were some other race than Caucasian.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City, Utah USA)

FROM ME: “Question- First a repeat of this ladies question, then a second question which may answer the first- Does hiding your blindness from an employer until you arrive for the interview wrong?

Second question- Some Vocational Counselors receive training wherein they are taught that the set of laws governing hiring practices, specifically those dealing with the types of questions allowable to be asked upon an employment application, allow you to not tell about your disability. Meaning, when they ask if you have a disability that will interfere with the performance of the duties of a job, counselors have been trained to see this question to mean that the employer expect you to say yes and tell them about a disability if you do, but expect you will not tell them of a disability if it does not pose a problem upon the job. For example, if you are blind and have the alternatives worked out, then you don’t have to tell them you are blind until you get there. What do you think of this?”

**27. “This particular PROVOKER is rather timely for me since I have been sending out resumes, filling out applications and attending interviews over the last few months. I personally am being backed by a rehab agency, but the only thing they are doing is helping me fill out applications, sometimes helping me
get to the interview itself, and occasionally giving me job leads that come into the organization I'm working through. I feel that they are a good resource, but I need to take the initiative myself to find the jobs.
As a rule, I do not let employers know that I am blind. I have seen different situations where this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. About four years ago I went to apply for a receptionist position, and the person I talked with on the phone was very nice. I thought things would go smoothly. When I walked in carrying my cane her response was, "Oh, you can't work here, we use computers." Of course by law she had to allow me to fill out the application and give me the interview, and of course the vision issue came up. At that point I basically told her that I felt that I had the necessary skills to function in the job, and that, given the chance, I felt I could be an asset to the company. That seemed to mollify her, but I never did hear back from them. About a month later I saw the same job posting that I had applied for. So, this of course is an example of where not disclosing my disability wasn't exactly a good thing, but at the same time, at least I got my foot in the door. If I had told this lady over the phone that I was blind, given
her assumptions about the blind, I would not have even gotten the interview to begin with. I feel that if I can at least get my foot in the door I have the opportunity to sell the prospective employer on the skills that I do have, and not the outward appearance.

On the other side of the coin, I recently had two interviews with people who were very open to my blindness. We got in some very interesting discussions about adaptive technology, and one interviewer in particular was fascinated by the amount of things that were available to me. I email my resumes online
through job web sites, and there is nothing that directly says that I am blind, although a couple of my past jobs were working with the handicapped.

Overall though, I do not tell the prospective employer about a disability unless A: it is specifically asked about on an application, or B: I'm in the interview and am asked what kinds of accommodations are needed to help me succeed in a job. I will always feel that one of the most important factors in getting
a job is having the opportunity to present oneself and ones skills.”

Caroline Congdon (Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA)

**28. “disclosure, disclosure, disclosure!!! Its got to happen at some point, yes. In the interview is my suggested point of opportunity. There the employer can ask you about your blindness, but only on matters of how you would perform specific duties of the job, ones that were clearly stated as duties of the position. An example might be how will you as a blind person use a computer, this job requires it? Or- This job has reading materials that will come in and need to be read and processed, how will you do this?

During the actual interview is the best and most beautiful opportunity to sell yourself and your alternatives. Be prepared to discuss and even demonstrate; you could bring along small adaptive equipment such as a BrailleNote or magnifier.

Bottom line, if you do not discuss your blindness with the employer, you have not had an interview. I have known partially sighted friends hide the fact of their limitations until after they were hired and ended up starting off their employment with this surprise, which is not expected, nor appreciated.”

Mickey R. (Alabama USA)

**29. “As always, this is an interesting topic. Like anything, it really depends on the individual whether he/she discloses his/her blindness prior to the interview or waits until they meet in person.
For some, they prefer to disclose their blindness before going on the interview while others think it is best to just make it be known when they arrive. I myself, have done both. When, I first began working, I was highly partially sighted so my blindness was not as noticeable. At first glance, one could
not tell I was visually impaired. In these cases, I did not think about disclosing that I was legally blind since I was able to do things pretty much like a sighted person. However, when I became totally blind, it was much different. A few years after becoming totally blind, I attended the Colorado Center for the Blind.
Their attitude, is that we should disclose our blindness prior to the interview. In fact, they even went as far as had us learn to write a " disclosure letter" and attach it to our resume. It was recommended by the instructor of the Job readiness class. Although, I did write the so called letter for the class, I never actually wrote a " disclosure letter " and send it along with my Resume to an employer. I did however, always describe how I would perform the job as a blind person in a positive light. For example, explain the adaptive technology I would use to do the job efficiently without sight.
It has been my experience, that disclosing the blindness before even setting up an interview, that in most cases, I was less likely to even get an interview
with the employer. I have discovered, that at least for me, it has worked best, if I sent my resume and then followed up with a phone call. I have also noticed, that if one contacts the perspective employer themselves, that one has more of a chance of getting an opportunity to interview. One should be persistent but not a pest --- there is a fine line....show interest in the company without coming across as desperate for a job. I have had my last two jobs, due to this method of applying for a job. Employers have told me that it was because, I continued to contact them, showing
interest that they knew how much I wanted to work for them, that they were willing to give me the opportunity. Despite the fact, that this style, works for me, for some, telling the employer that they are blind may work out great! I personally, think it is better to do it later.

I do agree, that some employers, may be shocked if he/she sees one of us walk through their door without disclosing the fact that we are blind. Some, may not know how to handle that, and unfortunately, it effects the outcome of the interview. If an employer is effected so much, that he/she can not deal with a perspective applicant being blind, than that is not the company we as blind people would want to work for. Sometimes, employers can't get passed the blindness and just see us as blind not a " real Person" whom just so happens to not be able to see.....
We should not have to worry how an employer will " react to us because we are " blind". The fact, that we have a physical disability should not matter. Yet ---I am in the real world, and know discrimination does and will always exist. We should not have to prove to an employer, that we can do the job that he/she has hired us for. It often happens, if we do find a job, it is usually, a part-time position and the Employer, gives us a 3 month probation period to demonstrate that we can do the job we are hired for. Does that make sense?....I don't think so. If you think about , when a sighted person applies for a job, he/she sends their resume and usually waits for a call to either be interviewed or not. An employer will either ask an perspective applicant who is sighted, to come in for an interview if he/she likes what they see on their resume. Sometimes, what is written on a resume is not always fact. Though, most people are truthful what they write on their Resume, some , do embellish or fluff up their Resume ---just a little to make it appear better. But, we all know, " appearances can be deceiving ". I have known, some sighted and even some blind people, who do just that, add things that they think will look good on their resume. For example, if they just read a manual on some computer program they may say they know the program well, if they have attended workshops, or have attended meetings related to business, they may add it to appear that it was a short-term position with a company, they may add a few more duties etc… So, how can an Employer, determine by a resume, who are the top candidates? They can't. That, is why, they have an interview process. A person may also appear that he/she has a lot more experience than they really do. Some people look good " on paper" or can come across well on the phone. Some may present a image, other than how they really are...This has been my experience too, like many I am sure. Some people whether they are blind or sighted, project a much different image of who they are, and what they can really do. Some, come across at first, that he/or she has more job experience, that he/she can do the job, and that he/she is a reliable, dependable , hard working individual. Later, the employer along with their co-workers, realize, that the person is much different. For instance, Some, appear, that they have the skills to do the job, may at first go to work each day and be on time, and while they are there, do a good job. Soon after, they start missing work, are late, take vacations, make personal calls during business hours, don't get all their projects done or if they do, do not do the project well; make lots of typing errors along with formatting mistakes and they don't even correct their work to make it look professional", Now, if things like this continue...the employee is usually terminated and they should be, if they have been warned on several occaisions to change ---and they don't......

Getting back to what I was saying about Employers hiring sighted people. They select the top candidates to interview and then they select the person who has the best skills as well as interviewed best. Then, the employer, hires, that person and gives them an hiring date. They don't say, " well, we would
like to hire you, but we are not exactly sure, that you will be the best person for the job, so we would like you to have a 3 month trial to see if “ this arrangement will work. If it does, great we will keep you on staff. If not, we will have to let you go". No, they don't do that, they hire the person they think will be best suited for the job and say your hired full-time, welcome to the company". They, take the risk, hoping the individual will be a dedicated loyal employee. However, with us, they are not willing as much to " take the risk " and just hiring us on. They rather, " see, what happens, and " feel it out" if we would be a good employee. If we are, they are usually pleasantly surprised. And, if any other blind people apply for a position within the same company, they, expect the person to do their job like you. They expect, the person to be as competent as you, just as reliable and so on. If the new blind person, is not, then, it is
a poor reflection on me, the blind person whom was first hired at the Company. The Employer does not do this with their sighted employees so why, do they do it with us ---we're not any different from them with the exception that our eyes don't work....They can recognize that their sighted employees , are unique, have various strengths and weaknesses, hobby's, personalities and much more....For some reason, when they see us, for a long-time they just see the " blindness, the "cane or the dog"...Then, if and when, they do see us, the person, that we are just " blind", they say things like " you are a " real Person".
Of Course, this is not always the case in the work force or in our personal lives. I am very fortunate, to work for a great Company and have a wonderful Boss.
I work for the Hyatt Regency Resort here in Scottsdale and have been there for almost a year. Although, at first, my Boss did say, " we never had a blind person here before, we're not sure how this will work"...I want to hire you because, I can see, that you really want to work for us and that you do have a good personality for this job".....She did say too, that this is a " " Pilot program and I am on a 3 month trial basis". If it is successful they will keep me on and even hire others whom are blind As I said, I have been there almost a year * a year next month *. I had to demonstrate by my good work habits, positive attitude, good attendance and professionalism that I was just as capable and dedicated as my sighted co-workers. As a result, I was given an excellent evaluation , in which stated that I was meeting or exceeding expectations as well as was given a raise. They are pleased with my progress, my work and are happy to have me part of their team. Right now, I still only work part-time hours but when one of my co-workers leaves in a month or so, I will then be full-time. In addition, there are not any other blind people working for this particular Hyatt. I, would like to see other blind people performing some of these positions in the Hospitality industry. However, I would like to only see blind people whom take their jobs seriously, whom are competent and dependable. Because, as I stated, if a blind person who lacks the skills, confidence and slacks off, it will look bad for me and./or other successful blind people whom are good workers.". Needless-to-say, when this happens, an Employer will be less likely to hire more blind people. And,---our objective is to see more blind people employed and to lower the unemployment rate.
It will effect the working relationship with not just the Boss but with co-workers....Most blind people, work hard and take their job seriously. Yet ---some, don't! This is true for sighted people too everywhere you go. It is even worse, when a blind person works for a blindness agency such as VR or a Rehab center and he/she skips work, gives his or hers Boss a project that is full of typos, and just decides not to go to work....Then, he/she wonders why they can't find a job and if they do, they soon get fired.... . And, they have very high expectations for themselves not realizing that all of us have to work our way up the ladder of Success".

The other issue that was discussed on this topic is the matter of whether a Job developer should look for the jobs for the blind person or if the blind person themselves should " Search " for the job themselves. ....
I think some people need a job developer to assist him/her in finding employment. Assisting them is the key word. There is nothing wrong with helping
someone especially when they first are beginning to work. However, I personally, believe, that the blind person has to do most of it themselves, that he/she has the desire to work and go " Pound the pavement “ like the rest. I also think it comes across much better to an Employer if the blind person sends the Resume, makes the contact and goes on the Interview alone. The less involved an Employment specialist is with this process, the better. The reason in my opinion is, that it comes across that we are not as independent and/or
capable of doing a job....If we, need a Employment specialist to find the job for us, will they have to be there for them on the job ---and for how long?..… These are some of the questions that go through some Employers minds. I do understand, why, there are job developers so they can open the doors to Company's for us blind and make them aware that we are very capable ---and just like anyone else....
I also believe, that having adaptive technology Specialists is something that we need more of. Most of us, including myself, need those people to adapt my work stations. In fact, that has been my only obstacle in finding work. I never had any problems in finding a job and I do great on my interviews. It is recommended that other blind people, to at least take it upon themselves to search for a job and complete the process instead of expecting the job " to fall in their Lap". As they say, " God helps those who help themselves".....It is really true. Besides, if one gets the job truly on their own, he/she will appreciate having the job much more and be more likely to succeed....But, Hey, everything I have said here.....is just one person's opinion....

One more thing I would like to add, I recommend a book that everyone should read, if they have not already. It is called " Who Moved My Cheese". It is an excellent book and is about how each of us deals with change ---or not for that matter.”

Karen Hughes (Tempe, Arizona USA)

**30. “I think that is a question that all blind people ask. In fact, a
question was asked in my career exploration class if you should report on an application that you are disabled. I was watching a movie in my career exploration class and a lady got in trouble because she had a hearing problem and she didn't hear what she was supposed to hear at a meeting about
her job that she was attending.”

Beth Kats (San Marcos, California USA)

**31. “This is in response to Robert Newman's question about volunteering playing a roll in landing a job. In my case, volunteer work caused me to get the job that I have now. When I first applied for this
job, as an activities assistant in a nursing home, back in 1988, my perspective supervisor was very enthusiastic about having me work there because of my training in music therapy in a geriatric setting.
Apparently, she seemed willing to look beyond the visual impairment. However, she turned me down because she said she found someone who had more work experience.

Several months later, when I still hadn't found another job, she asked me if I would be willing to volunteer. She said she had been hesitant to ask me before because she thought that with my training
as a professional, I would consider a volunteer position beneath me. Flattered, since I had nothing else to do at the time, I readily agreed to volunteer. About a month later, that same position I had
applied for before came open again and she asked if she could interview me once more. This time, I got the job.

So, as you can see, volunteer work played an essential roll in my landing this job. This supervisor saw what I could do on the job while I was volunteering and based on what she saw, despite my visual
impairment, she hired me. And I have had this job ever since.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A.

**32. “This thought provoker raises a very good question and one whose answer isn't always obvious. The most difficult call to make is to that new company, new hr department, new potential employer, Etc. That is: When there is no prior history with the company and therefore no credibility, the beginning is a
real challenge. This is true for the sighted as well as the blind. Most employers don't like to hire unknown people. We would sooner hire someone whose been recommended (almost anyone), rather than an unknown quantity no matter how well he or she interviews or fills out paperwork. Yes, large
companies are a somewhat different matter if you can't get past the initial mass screenings that go on, but, all companies try to hire somebody they know or somebody that someone else knows. I say all this to say that most people get jobs
through friends or contacts. Two or three times in my life I've volunteered for organizations in order to get "in the door". I know some people don't think this is appropriate but I can tell you that I know that if I can get in the door they'll find me of value. I've taken minimum wage jobs to get into
an organization as well. Again, if I can get in the door they'll see how valuable I am. American business is great. They're greedy. They want to make money and if I can make money for them they'll hire me and pay me.

Yes, I know that some people have had bad experiences with this method but, that doesn't make the method bad, just not infallible.

Well, back to the disclosure question. I never disclose blindness until I'm face to face. I know that I can put that employer at ease by looking him or her in the eye, by the confident way I carry myself, by the approach I have in general. At that time I will deal with the blindness. Most of all I
make it clear that my blindness is my problem not theirs. By that I mean that solving any potential access issues is my problem. If I can't solve the problems then they shouldn't hire me and their job isn't to know
anything about blindness. During the interview if blindness related issues com up I take them head-on. If the person says, "I wonder if you can use our switch-board?" I say, "Who supervises that area now?" I get a name and say, "Why don't I work with so and so to see about that matter. I'll get
back to you with a report." What I just did was take over the task, (and the interview as well). You can't force such things but I can tell you that if you're comfortable and know what you're doing it'll work most times. Employers are looking for people who can solve problems and make them money.
They already have more to do than they can accomplish. Any help I can give will usually appreciated. If the Commission for the blind needs to be contacted I say, "I'll talk to them." I never let the process get out of my control. I also never let employers get away with saying, "We'll give you a
call." I say, "You know, I'm in and out so much you'll probably miss me. When do you think I should call you back?" Again, I'm in charge of the contact now and am not going to sit around waiting for this person to get time. I also now have permission to call back and another contact. The
more contact with me the company has the better my chances. I'll admit that it helps that I've been a business owner and employer. I know how they think and I know how they feel. I usually ask more questions in an interview than the company does. I've researched the company, the
department and the issues. The more familiar I am with the employer's issues and concerns the easier it is.

Disclosing blindness ahead doesn't usually work for me unless I have a reference whom I know will disclose it anyway. In other words, a friend says, "They have a project at such-and-such that you would be excellent for. I'll give bob smith a call and tell him about you." Now I have both an advantage and disadvantage. Bob will know that I'm blind ahead of time but, if my referral is a good one he/she will also have told Bob that I'm just what the company needs. It's all about confidence, knowing your target and
knowing and believing that you're of value.”

Mike Bullis (Oregon USA)

FROM ME: “As this gentleman stated, still the may way people get jobs is t through someone you know. So How about this as a tactic for disclosure, you have your friend who works at a company talk about you, telling of your blindness, your ability?”

**33. “This issue is a timely one for me as I will be graduating from university in December and going out
to get a job. I have had to think about the disclosure issue before, when I was applying for my
student teaching position. I have had many experiences where professors and some of the teachers
in the public school system have looked down on me or treated me unfairly because of my visual impairment. I am told often that I don't appear blind and I admit this did influence my decision to disclose or not. I knew that if my cooperating classroom teacher could
meet me and get to know me that she would be able to see that I can teach as well as anyone else, which I
have done a fair amount of teaching in the past. I even talked to a professor in the special education
department of my college and she agreed with my reasons for not wanting to disclose. I made the
decision not to disclose my visual impairment on the application and it turned out to be the right
decision. I went to observe my teacher's classroom before school let out in May and we got along really
well and before I left it came up. It wasn't a big confrontation, it was just matter of fact. We were
sitting facing each other and I'm sure she saw my stigmatism as I was tired that day and it is worse on
those days because it is harder for me to concentrate on some objects. But it went well and I'm glad I made
the decision I did because this way she could see me first.

Now as far as my upcoming job search I fell pretty much the same way. I will be applying for jobs in the
federal government. I have researched many of the jobs and I know what is required and that I can do the
things that are required. Unless there is a question the application I will wait until the interview. I
don't need any adaptations for the interview itself and I already know what adaptations I will need for the job.
Once the interviewer sees me and has had a chance to talk to me I can then explain my visual impairment and what I need to succeed in the job.

Most of all, I think it is important to know the situation you're going to be getting into. Know about
the job requirements and the employer. Try to set in your mind what any possible obstacles might be and how you would get past them. I have always felt that it
is better to be over prepared and may even look better than if you have to think about it. Stick to the
questions, don't feel like you have to give your life story practically. I have made that mistake before
and caused myself trouble. I'm not sure if my last point totally applies to this situation but does
somewhat I think. Put your best foot forward, make the best impression you can as yourself and as a
visually impaired or blind person. If someone gets a good impression from you it may help out the next
person like you that comes along.”

Wendalyn (Nebraska, USA)

**34. “I am experiencing a phenomenon of increasing proportion. I would like to know if it is just my experience? I have run into more applications with sections that request information on disabilities for Affirmative Action records. It appears to me that this is the same dilemma of whether to reveal on the application or wait for the interview. I have been advised to wait. I am unsure of this however I believe this is a way to weed out the disabled from the interview process. The claim is that this information is not used in the selection but only for Affirmative Actions records and that without this information the records would be incomplete. What do you think of my question if this is a growing phenomenon?

As for the revealing of ones disability, I wait until the interview for all the above mentioned reasons. As for the five factors that would help the process,
I believe they should include, for the top 5 ,employer attitude toward disabilities. It has been my experience that if you have a wonderful work record,
work experience, and a wonderful personality, these pale to a negative attitude toward blindness. It is my opinion that this is the biggest factor ingraining employment for the blind. What helped to confirm this for me was the 9 recruiters that were at the NFB job fair. This may not be a true reflection of
the employer pool open to hiring the disabled. It did surprise me that there were not more employers at such a large convention that in part works toward employment for the blind. No matter how self actualized a person is about blindness it is in large part dependent on the interviewers attitude and the regions attitude toward the disabled. Such as areas with sheltered work shops.”

Vince Llanas (Bemidji, Minnesota USA

FROM ME: “So what about these extra sheets of questions dealing with disability that can come along with the application? Do you think a company who has an affirmative action program would most likely be the ones who would be using these?”

**35. “These are important issues to grapple with before being involved in a job search. Each person has to make his or her own decision about what works best. Personally, I see absolutely no reason to mention blindness or any other disability on a resume. The purpose of a resume is to provide your
potential employer with a summary of your skills, qualifications, and work experience. It is not for providing information about your gender, race or disability status.

Generally, I will not disclose my blindness till I am scheduled for an interview. I usually call the interviewer a day or two before our meeting and ask for directions, as well as confirming the time. At that point, I will casually mention that I happen to be blind and just did not want them
to be caught off guard. About ten years ago, when I was in an active job search I tried just walking into several interviews without disclosing anything ahead of time. I think this affected the quality of the interview because the interviewer was still getting used to the possibility of hiring
a blind applicant.

If the interviewer does not bring up any questions about my blindness or how I will do the job, I bring it up at the end. I do not dwell on it for a long time. I simply say something like: "You might be curious about how I would do certain aspects of this job. People are generally curious about
how I will do... (then I talk about a few things such as reading, computer work, etc.)

For those of you looking for work out there, please know that you do not need to apologize for your blindness and that employers need not feel as though they are doing you a favor or paying some debt to society by hiring you. Also, do not be afraid to change jobs and move up in your career. I
worked as a counselor in a disability services office at a university for five years. I heard about an opening to be a director of disability services at a private, Christian Liberal Arts college. I updated my resume,
went for the interview and took the job. In the process, several family members suggested I should be happy at the good job I had and not take risks since it is hard for blind people to find work. I respectfully did not follow their advice and am now working at my new position. I'll end
this by saying one of the best things a blind professional or any professional can do is to network. Join organizations of people who have the sort of job you want. If you can talk with someone on the inside of an
organization, you will often hear about job openings and you can get a good idea about whether you might want to work for a given company. I have found three out of my four professional positions in that way.”

Kathy McGillivray, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

**36. “I heard a program on the TV where a gentleman stated throw away those resumes If you want a job! He stated people should instead tell the company what you can do for them. I thought at the time what a clever idea! Particularly for the blind! One could let the company know what you are
capable of then as a by the way, I am blind.”

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)

FROM ME: “Well, how about this concept, not bringing a resume to show history of education and experience and you get in there for the interview and say, “This is what I know I can do for you…”

Second thought/question, during an interview, aren’t you now telling them something to the effect, ‘I understand what your job is about, you’ve seen in my resume and/or application what I’ve done, now this is what I believe I can do for you and your company…”

**37. “I have always disclosed my blindness in the cover letter that went along with my resume, stating that I would expect that employers would want to ask questions about how my blindness might affect me on the job and that it would be helpful if they could formulate these questions so that we could talk about them during an interview. I did this with the expectation that I would get an interview and that my openness to discussing the issue would be seen as an asset. As I am a social worker and expect that openness is a positive qualification for the job, I know this could vary with the type of job being sought. I
also know that I have been given interviews by people who never intended to hire me but felt guilty about not giving me an interview. I have been successfully
employed since getting my degree in 1975, but getting jobs has not always been easy. I have not depended since graduate school on rehab. counselors and feel that at this level, getting a job is my own responsibility.”

Jeanne Smith (Amesbury, Massachusetts USA)

**38. “This is Adrienne with Ushers Syndrome (RP + deafness). With Ushers, Type 2, deafness was always my foremost problems when it came to achieving a job before I was diagnosed to have RP at the age of 26. I had an attitude that I could do a job provided that I had a volume control handset on my phone. I was a business school trained secretary/clerk and was well versed on the norms of office work.
Yes, I did experience in a couple of my first two office jobs the usual attitude by the employers: Can she DO her job?? Thus, I did not stay with them for long due to the stress of the situational attitudes. I then decided that I was going to insist that I be treated fairly and prove to a prospective employer that I
was trust-worthy and honest and consciously self-motivated enough to do the best that I can for their establishment. I got my third job with the government and had that job for 12 years (had to quit due to job relocation on my husband's part). At the third year mark with that government job I was diagnosed to have
the RP (then confirmed to have Ushers Syndrome). With this bit of change, the employees were concerned about my ability to handle my job. I had to do a bit of "educating". I informed them that I was the same person they knew the day before my diagnosis and why all of a sudden I was "different"? I told them that IF I were to not be able to handle my job that we would all deal with it as it
occurred. I ended up working for them another nine years and could have kept going if I had not needed to quit due to moving away from the area.

About 15 years later, I decided to get some kind of job that would bring in a little extra income to the family. With my husband's and children's encouragement, I applied for a job at a hospital in the Housekeeping Department. I was very honest with them in the application as well as I was with the
interview. I was hired!! When I was going through the orientation process, midway, I was shown the job description. And, in that description, it said that the vision must have good depth perception and minimal color-blindness. I told the employer that I had problems with both of those requirements and that,
perhaps, we should rescind my employment with them. They insisted that I give this a tryout anyway! Well, with that, I asked the employer to be sure to inform me of ANY complaints and at that time we would discuss it and see if it would be advisable for me to not work for them. Five months later, the supervisor asked me if I had done a certain area earlier in the day. I said that I had and
worried if I had not completed something. She showed me an area and asked me if I could see it. I couldn't as the area was low-lit and there were not other lights to brighten up the area. She took my hand and had me feel the wall/door area and there was a dried up spill there! We both cleaned it up and I then told
her that it was time for me to terminate my job. She was so very kind and said that perhaps it was to be; BUT, that I would need to stay on for two-weeks to give her time to find another person to replace me. She said that she knew about my problem but she said that she liked my personality and character. She said
that the hospital administrator wanted to give me that chance. He, himself, was once temporarily blinded with a corneal disease and was fortunate to have his vision restored.

My point with all this is that a legally blind or even a totally blind person will never know what will be in store for them! Guess the key to it all is to just don't quit trying! There will be a "perfect" place out there somewhere. It's all in the attitude on your part to change some prospective employer to see
your asset...a willingness to work and to do your best for them. You'll never know...some employer out there will have a position for you!”

Adrienne (RPlist)

**39. “My name is Vince and I just recently joined the list. This topic is a concern for me. About 3 years ago I got hired as a co-op Software Engineer. At that time I had tunnel vision like I do now, but it was not as bad so I didn't tell my boss for about a year. However, now I use a cane to get around. I still
work in the same department as a co-op, but since I started to use a cane and now that my RP is more obvious I've noticed a change in attitude people
have towards me which I really don't like. I still have some vision left, but I am concern about what I should do job wise--this is even starting to effect my collage work.

Vince (RPlist)

**40. “In the past, I have elected to tell potential employers that I am blind, but I'm now convinced that this may very well have been an error. If blindness has nothing to do with whether an individual would otherwise be qualified to do the job, why the necessity to mentioned that you are blind? When, and/or
if, the applicant requires assistance, then the reason he/she requires it may become important. Of course, according to ADA, it is not necessary to reveal this information (that you are visually impaired for example) when applying for a job. On the other hand, how much assistance is required to
do to the job may dictate how much information should be given.”

Jesse Johnson (NFB-talk)

**41. “I really enjoyed this thought provoker - it made me sit and think on myself, my family, and so many issues in my life along with the queries that always accompany such thoughts in the form of "what ifs" .......the key phrase that stood out in my mind was 'would they accept me as I am
...?' ...there are disabilities that are indeed impossible to disguise, hide, or mask ranging from physical ones such as being confined to a wheelchair to a loss of one sense such as sight or hearing ..... there are
also many other disabilities that over time can emerge during your work period with a firm which are not overtly obvious on initial impressions ..... the factor here is that because we are talking on a sensory
disability where certain information has to be ascertained prior to the interview to ensure both you and the employer are aware of an adaptations you need and can implement them ...... this is where the will they accept me as I am enters ..... you cannot disguise sight loss it is out there in your face so to speak larger than proverbial life and you do have to discuss this before you can even be considered to be interviewed ..... will they accept me as I am with my many abilities my many talents or always the question are they going to go for the stereotypical picture many seem to hold regarding people with various disabilities ... the thing one forgets is not one person on this earth is free of some sort of disability in one form or another - it may be minor it may be major it may be open and identifiable it may be carefully hidden .... no one person is perfect and we forget that .... so we judge not by the persons abilities and talents but by many other factors that subconciously enter the mind prior to even meeting that person ..... the word blindness for many summons up visions of guide dogs, white canes, sun glasses .... cerebral palsy summons up the vision of twisted limbs moving in a direction of their own along with limited speech and movement ...yet the reality can be so far removed from that ..... I feel for this person and what they are facing I myself admire their bravery and identify strongly with their nerves along with the steeling of oneself to have to discuss adaptations required before you even get to the interview stage - it would be a process I could never see myself ever adjusting to no matter how many phone calls I made ..... I have had my children judged by diagnosis and labels ..I myself also have a label and this also has seen me judged .... looking back with the experience of time because my disability is not one easily identified by look I would never again ever trust or reveal it to any person I worked with ...the moment you do I find they prejudge, they form stereotypes in their mind and they make assumptions before even talking to me people make judgements based on how
they would feel if they were in MY position but they are NOT me so how can they decide or assume on their own reactions ....the will they accept me as I am becomes a firm no ...they see me as a label ..... so I would never divulge anything on my illness work wise ..... with my children their
behaviours distinguish them from their peers and I have to concentrate on teaching them to pretend how to be normal - whatever that is ...because that is what people want in the work/life situation normal ...they do not want to accept people for who they are and the many things they can offer
along with the boundless talent and enthusiasm they bring with them coupled with insights so called normals will never ever grasp or experience .... it is a sad thing in this world for all the supposed progress made especially in the area of disability we are still in stereotypical models in
neurological typical peoples minds ..... there is also the pity factor that enters ... are we getting this job because of our talent or because they have a quota to fill and the feeling one is always being judged by those around us ..we cannot just do the job we have to excel at it be most
productive and enthusiastic employee possible ...all these demands that are not imposed onto so called normals ...... this is just such a hard issue there are some things that you must inform a prospective employer about as we see illustrated here and boy my throat would be tightening too waiting
for 'that' note in the voice that lets you know before you even get there no room at this inn for me .... and the powerlessness that accompanies this also makes the situation even more stressful ..... some things you are able to hide some things you cannot hide - this is a situation where you cannot
hide one aspect about yourself ...... and in this current climate and the attitude of so called normal people I would hide every and anything about myself personally and never reveal a thing to anyone ever work wise .... I sure hope this person gets a shot at showing them yes they can do the job
they have the talent they have the ability and that one factor that can be seen as a positive will not block the doorway to employment ....as for me I would keep my mouth shut big time but then my disability is easier to disguise ...for some of my children I worry extensively as they cannot
disguise their disabilities and the will they accept them at they are consistently enters my mind and what am I to do if they are not accepted as
unique and talented people with many many positive attributes and gifts
they can share and offer their community .....”

Julie Robottom (Melbourne, Australia)

FROM ME: “I’m sitting here trying to think on how to respond to this response. The part of it that is digging at me is the message that for many people in this world who are ‘normal,’ that they can or will not accept us, the disabled as we are. I guess what I’d like to ask is, ‘Is this a simtom of our cultures level of sifistication of self, a result of our own limitations in our acceptance of humanity? Also, will this get better with time? What will make it better?’”

**42. “In terms of the disclosure issue, I would tend to present myself as a qualified blind person at the interview. I don't think disclosure is necessary prior to that point in most cases. I think finding out about the company, the specific job and other details are just good Career Guidance and Job seeking techniques,
regardless of blindness or no. At the early point of application I think blindness needs to be considered like any other trait...that is, would I tell someone I am not 6 feet tall, do not have blue eyes, blonde hair?
Being prepared for anything that may come up in the pre interview or interview process just makes good sense. It has been my experience that I can find out any requirements for testing without any disclosure. I like the question about the application process, testing requirements, etc. as noted in an earlier
Response. Once you get to the interview though, the characteristic of blindness is still like any other characteristic , but its visibility and potential for negative response requires acknowledgement without shame given the generally negative attitudes of employers. Or persons who have little to no vision there is usually or should not be any temptation to try to avoid or deny the issue of blindness. Actually if one can acknowledge with confidence the fact that they are blind and talk about their qualifications and how they do the duties and handle situations posed within the context of interview questions, this can go a long way . However, some with vision may want to try to "pass" or hide their blindness. That may work in the short run, but in the long run it will catch up with them and catch others who are blind in terms of more difficulty . So, in the interview I would address blindness in order to deal with the potential
lack of information and ignorance attitudinally and then also to demonstrate how I can do tasks, albeit somewhat differently than a person with vision.

Once again I would say that in addition to the confidence one must have those skills and be aware of how to "blind in". other words, getting there on time,
looking at the interviewer firm and confident handshake and neat and clean in terms of grooming. Interpersonal skills and skills to do the job. It is a sorry statements but true that a blind person has to consider when to disclose that he is blind. On the other hand, I think at times we may blow
this perception out of proportion. There have been situations where I was over concerned about disclosure and there was little need for it. On the other hand, I know that there are those of us (I have done this) who may feel that because they are blind, they should be given special treatment, including being hired. I know of one situation where a blind person applying for a job as a CR Counselor asked an interviewer "When I go to Austin for training, how will I get back and forth from the hotel? who will take me?" This person did not need a job , they needed adjustment training. until societal attitudes change, there will be these shades, these extremes. And until we as blind persons initiate our own attitude shift, away from entitlement and fear and increase in responsibility and confidence, we will continue to be seen and see ourselves as different, asking if and when we should disclose.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)

**43. “This is a good question. In my experience, I didn't make it a point to bring up the blindness issue, but didn't try to cover it either. My thinking is that people will take their cues from how you perceive yourself. Of course there are exceptions, but those who are willing to be educated will take their cue from how you feel about your blindness, and if it's no big deal for you, after the learning curve, it won't be for them either.

When interviewing for the teaching job I held for several years, I don't even remember when the subject of blindness came up. But at the interview I was asked how I would grade papers, discipline a classroom, etc. I gave straightforward answers with which the employer was apparently satisfied, since I god the job. I don't think about being blind unless I need an alternative way of accomplishing something, yet I enjoy educating people on blindness issues
in a proactive way.”

Judy Jones (Tacoma, Washington USA)

**44. “This has been a fascinating collection of comments. I rarely read every comment on every update, but this time I have. I want to describe a similar dilemma which might be worthy of a PROVOKER
on its own. I decided to subscribe to one of the many dating sites on the internet. I was confident that my privacy would be protected, so I filled out the very long questionnaire. One of the sections asked you to
write comments which would be used to *introduce* you to the other person. One of those questions was "what is the first thing that a stranger would notice about you." I struggled with that for a few
minutes and finally wrote something like, "I am blind but completely comfortable in the sighted world."
I wondered how many prospects that statement would scare away. But I think it's better to be truthful immediately in this situation. By the way, I've had 3 *matches* so far, none of whom have replied to my attempt to get to know them. I'm sure there are many reasons for that.
I'd be curious to hear from those who are more experienced in the dating and marriage scene than I am. What kinds of blindness-related issues come up, and how are they handled? I leave it up to Robert to decide if there is a PROVOKER subject hiding in my rambling.”

Nancy Karstens (Omaha, Nebraska USA)

**45. “When I was looking for a job over 2 years ago, I had someone helping me find a job. I got the job that I have now because she knew the boss and he had worked with disabled people before. So I think sometimes it can help. But I will not be doing that again. I think that if I am going to
go from a production job in a warehouse, which I am not especially good at, to a customer service job in an office, I really need to be able to show the employer that I am capable of doing things on my own like anyone else. And I just think that it is too easy not to take more
responsibility for ourselves as blind people. I think that this will show and will prevent us from getting good jobs. I think that it is important to have good skills for the job and blindness skills. If we don't have
the skills, the confidence, and the independence, I think that it really does show. Also I think that we need to figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are, improve as much as we can, and then apply for jobs that we are likely to do well at. Many blind people like myself didn't work in
high school like most sighted people did and may have to some degree not even been expected to do as well as the sighted in school. So there may be little experience in working along with little insight into themselves to know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what it really takes
to do a job. As a result they may have a higher opinion of their ability than what it is in reality. As well as little understanding of the work involved to get to where they want to go. And I think that while it is
important to be positive about how far you have come, it is also very important to realize how far you have to go still. Because of low expectations of others and their wanting to be nice, we may be allowed to
not do as well as others. And we may not expect enough of ourselves. I think that it is very important for us to be able to recognize when this is happening and work toward doing as well as we should be. Even if our
weaknesses don't have anything to do with blindness, sighted people will assume they do. So we will give a bad impression of all blind people as well as ourselves.

I say these things partly because I know of other blind people who are dealing with these issues. But mainly because of my own situation. As much as try, I am not able to work as fast as many others. This really
does bother me although there are differences in speed for everyone and as a result differences in pay. But they also do not want me to do certain things that others do because of speed and because they don't
think that I can do them as well and as safely as a sighted person. This bothers me because I want to be like everyone else and have tried to be. But I even though they are paid more for doing more, I don't feel good
about the situation. I think that it gives a bad impression of all blind people as well as myself. So I am trying to get into a customer service training program because I think that I would do better in that type of

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City, Utah USA)

**46. “First, I managed to find a career for which there is a great demand (speech-language pathologist), which aids in my ability to find employment. I have recently begun a new position, which is wonderful. A teacher at my former district happened to speak to the principal of my new school. She was interested in a position at this school; however, he only needed a speech pathologist. When she heard this, she told him that she knew someone who would be an asset to his school. As part of her description of me, she told him about my visual impairment. When I interviewed with him, he was already aware that I had a visual impairment. If he hadn't known, I certainly would have brought it up as I always do at an interview. I give the interviewer the opportunity to ask questions, because you know they have them and they also know that legally they shouldn't ask. Once the subject is opened, everyone seems more comfortable.”

Sheila DeRos (Waukegan, Illinois USA)

**47. “I, first of all, wish to comment on Mikes post (#32). It is very true that employers tend to hire people they know, either through their current employees or their relatives, etc. As a matter of
fact the statistic is somewhere around 85%!! So it helps to tell your friends, and family what you are looking for, what your skills are, and let them, who believe in you and know you, help you to get interviewed.

The second thing I wish to respond to is #41's post about "what will the employer think if I disclose my disability?"

First thing that pops into my head is, yes, there are many stereotypes, but the truth is that people who do not no you, just do not know you!!! Only time can help them to "think" anything about "you!" If you see a
person who needs help, you either do it or not, but what you think about that person depends on if you really know him/her or not! What I mean by this is that once people get to know the individual, everything's different! They have formed opinions about how well you get along with
people, about how hard you work, and how you make decisions, etc., but during the interview process, even if they know you, (or not), you are a candidate for a certain job, and it's your responsibility to convince
the interviewer that you are the absolute "Best!" there is for the position you are interviewing about! If you can't do this, or if you feel that "they might be prejudiced," or "they might have a
stereotypical attitude about blindness," believe me, this will come across!! I have studied, and use to work, with an employment program geared toward hiring people with epilepsy, and if you do not go in the
interview with your head held high, or if you try to make excuses about how people feel and how employers are being unfair to you, before you even were asked to the interview. I guarantee that you won't be hired!! What the law says is that you don't have to disclose your disability ahead of time, but this doesn't mean that they ought not find out, (is this fair to them?) This also doesn't mean that if they ask, to you, what are awkward questions, that "they aren't interested," or "this is a stereotypical question about blindness!" It may simply mean that they genuinely wish to know the answer, and no matter how silly you think
that question is, you'd better not be flip about it, and you best try to answer it honestly and in detail!! This is what I have found to work best. My best advice is, be prepared to sell yourself and be confident
in your abilities, and honestly say that you don't know, when you don't!! I think an interviewer respects that above anything!!!

Thanks for this intriguing PROVOKER.”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, Tennessee USA)

**48. “I've waited until I heard the responses of others before putting my two cents worth in on this subject. Now, I feel that it is time to do so.

Having held several jobs where I was the only blind employee, I'd like to
share some observations that have proven to be enlightening to me.
Hopefully this may prove to be helpful to other job-seekers too.

Unless you know for a certainty that the prospective employer has "no"
feelings of uneasiness about hiring a blind employee, it is best to keep
this piece of information quiet until the interview. I know, this isn't fair
in a country where all of us are guaranteed equality, freedom and justice
for all. But let's get real yawl, the "only" equality that we are going to
have as blind employment seekers is that which we make for ourselves!

To make "equality" we must be prepared to do the job for which we are
applying, and do it better than the sighted individuals who will apply for
it or who have just vacated that position. We should have done our homework
about the job and the employer so that we are prepared to produce hard copy
evidence of our credentials for the position.

We must present ourselves straightforwardly with confidence to our potential
employer at the interview. We must emit a confidence that will cause the
interviewer to feel that we will be an asset instead of a liability to the
company. Our deportment in this area is as important as are our written

At this point I'd like to share with you something that was confided to me
by my last employer. After setting up an interview via telephone I met with
him, bringing along all of my written credentials, my references and Resume.
When he entered the room I stood up, looked straight into his face and
stretched out my hand and gave him a firm handshake while introducing
myself. With the other hand I presented my written information. We talked
briefly, he showed me around the establishment and told me that he would get
back with me. In about three weeks he called me to come in for another interview. I was
hired for the job, but it was about a month or so later that he confided to
me that if he had known that I was blind before I came in for the original
meeting that he would not have even given me an interview. He told me what
I am sure that many other individuals in the position of oversight must
feel, that he had not been close to anyone blind and could not imagine what
it would be like having a blind person working for him. He was concerned
with the liability involved for his business and also if having a blind
person working there would make the other employees feel uncomfortable. He
said that my manner of presentation with him on the first meeting was the
convincing factor that convinced him to give me a chance with his company.
Our working relationship was wonderful, and even though I no longer live in
Texas, I know that I could go back there to work at any time.

Therefore, I really feel that unless we know for a certainty that a
potential employer has no problems with our blindness that we should not
inform them of it ahead of time.

Also, one way of getting a good reputation as a blind worker is to volunteer
for small jobs at local places that have them available. This could be
hospitals, support centers and such. Getting into the local "eye" goes a
long way in establishing our credibility.

Happy job hunting!”

Alfreda Trusty-Dotson (Pensacola, Florida USA)

FROM ME: “What do you think, about having to be better than your coworkers; is it true? What is it? Where does it come from?”

**49. “Let me first of all introduce myself. I am Mazhar from Pakistan, an RP boy. I have done high school and now striving to find some cost effective university in U.S. or Canada. my story is long and sad, so I wont waste the time of yours on it. about job, I am surprised to know there exists bias against the VIPS even in north America, I used to think that its only here in the under developed uneducated third world. well!”

Mazhar (RPlist, Pakistan)

**50. “I too am looking for a job. However, I have been experiencing rather overt discrimination. My field is social work and I completed my master's degree last year. In one interview I was asked "exactly what will you be able to see in five years." I was so caught off-guard. I thought it was incredibly inappropriate especially since I was interviewing for a job at Johns Hopkins University. In my most recent interview, "sight" and "hearing" were printed in the job announcement as required attributes. Again, I was interviewing with a hospital. Needless to say, I have become incredibly frustrated with the process. I cannot pretend that I don't have a disability since I am a guide dog user and we are a package deal. I still have a lot of workable vision, but I need her to navigate around what I miss. I have found that universities are quite open minded about educating me and I was encouraged by my professors in my pursuit of a career in this field. I just have a hard time believing that these hospitals are ignorant of the law. Especially here in Iowa since Sen. Tom Harkin sponsored the ADA law. Well, despite it all I keep trudging and I am now pursuing some continuing ed classes to better my chances.”

Valerie Hyatt (RPlist)

**51. “This subject is very relevant to me since I am in the job market right now. My RP is at the stage where I can still navigate fairly well without a cane but it requires a lot of concentration not to bump into obstacles. I have used my cane on my last two job interviews. I didn't reveal anything about my vision problem prior to the interviews. The reaction I got was to be offered a lot more assistance than I needed. I didn't try to object to them trying to lead me around and holding onto my arm.

I find that even if I don't use my cane to call attention to my blindness the subject will eventually come up. For example at the last interview I was asked to review and sign my application. I had completed the application on their web site which was very cool. It was very accessible and easier than filling out a traditional paper application. However I wasn't expecting to have to read and sign it in front of the interviewer. So I was put in the position of having to reveal my blindness at the start of the interview.

I was always told by rehab. counselors that it is best not to bring up your blindness until it is absolutely necessary. One of them told me to wait until a job is offered before disclosing my blindness. I find that this is becoming more difficult to do. Perhaps I should be letting the person interviewing me know a little bit about my situation and that I use a white cane before the interview. But I am afraid that this will give them time to form preconceived notions of a helpless stumbling blind man with dark glasses.

I would like to hear from any other Listers on their experiences. I read the postings on the thought PROVOKER web site. It is good to discuss blindness issues in terms of everyday situations.”

Dave Cleveland (RPlist, Houston Texas USA)

**52. “Just wanted to respond to this thought provoker. When I have gone looking for jobs, I have usually not disclosed that I am blind until I go to the interview, and then I make sure that I bring it up in the interview on how I do things, depending on what the job requirements are for the job. I have had a good
response from employers when I tell them what I can do, since they are sometimes unsure on what a blind person can do. I feel that we need to tell the interviewer up front that we are blind and then we can show them in the interview that we can compete with other sighted people.”

John TeBockhorst (Davenport, Iowa USA)

**53. “I am a sighted person who has been in the position of hiring and then
training new employees based originally on the sound of the person's voice on
the phone. I've never ever asked for personal information over the phone,
because everyone who called in response to an ad placed by our company had
the right to come in and apply for the job as long as the information I gave
them was acceptable to them, like the hours expected or the wage provided.
If the terms of employment appealed to the applicant, then it was encouraged
that they apply, but it also was, at that point, nice to know if there were
any special provisions needed to be placed on equal footing with other
applicants. I had one person tell me that he needed to know if there was a
wheelchair ramp, because if there wasn't, then he'd need someone to come out
of the building and assist him up the curb. Cool. Not a problem, if known
in advance. I never had a blind person apply for any jobs I advertised,
probably because I placed our company ads in regular newspaper classifieds.
If, however, a person had called and said right up front that they could not
see, I would then have explained the nature of the job and the skills and/or
capabilities of performing the job, and if good eyesight was a requirement,
then I would have preferred to have saved my time and the applicant's time as
well, since he or she would have had to arrange for transportation and
directions and I don't know what else it takes for a blind person to get
themselves to a job interview. If it turned out that the person was
qualified and interested, then I'd welcome them to come for an interview, but
again, it's nice to know in advance that the person will need assistance and
to be able to let the others in the office know that they're expected to be
helpful when the blind person comes in. There is something about a blind
person that makes people want to be helpful, while people tend to try to stay
out of the way of persons with other kinds of disabilities, or look away in
an attempt not to notice the disability. A lot of normal, healthy children
are raised to look away from a person in a wheelchair, "don't stare", their
parents tell them. It's rude for that disabled person to see you staring at
him or her, but a blind person can't see you staring. Somehow, that makes
people want to be more helpful. So, I guess if you are going to be
interviewed by someone mean and narrow-minded then you should not tell them
on the phone that you are blind, but if you are lucky enough to meet someone
nice like me, you're going to get special attention and assistance from me
anyway, whether you like it or not, so you may as well reveal your blindness
up front and expect to be welcomed to the company!”

**56. "I have just finished reading many of the stories from blind and visually impaired looking for work. Myself I am legally blind, but have been a diabetic
most of my life. but unemployed. I have been looking for work and had a few interviews. I just wanted to say that on an application if it says do you
have any impairments or anything that would prevent you from doing this job. In some jobs I've had in the past being a diabetic on an eating time schedule
some things had to wait to be done. So to answer the question about not being able to do the job I always put NO (I am a diabetic) that would also work
for the blind. Just fill in NO (I am blind) I have never been refuse a job for this reason. I have been refused jobs because of my vision problem. also,
as far as telling the interviewer about vision problems I think it's best to save this information until the end of the interview. If they can't tell by
looking why volunteer information?”


**57. In reading the thought provoker and the responses following, I'm learning that it's better to just tell it upfront on the phone that you have a disability
then pause for a moment to let the employer react positively or negatively. If they react negatively, then discuss your capability to perform the job
tasks and the adaptive methods you would use to accomplish what they expect. Of course, this can work for or against you, but at least you know right
off the bat whether the job you're applying for will work for you or not in regards to the employer's reception of you. Many times, you can have the highest
self-esteem and all the other positive attributes needed to get a job, but it still doesn't matter because the employer is either prejudice, ignorant or
apprehensive. Some employers are willing to be educated while others are not no matter what approach you take in trying to educate them. I have learned
from personal experience that, if you push a company to make accommodations for you, it can work against you in that, expectations of you become higher
than those of your sighted coworkers, or you soon find yourself being strangely laid off for whatever excuse they can come up with--we found someone more
qualified, we're down-sizing, etc. Even if you have all the equipment to be able to function efficiently without the employer having to provide the equipment,
you still have to take the issue with the employer as to where the equipment can be set up. This is where the ADA is very, very lacking. It only states
that employers cannot discriminate against you because of your disability and that it has to provide accommodations for you to perform the job tasks efficiently.
It does not, however, cover you when your employer sets high expectations of you than those of your sighted coworkers. Nor does it cover you when an
employer makes up strange excuses as to why they are laying you off because employers carefully choose their wording so that you cannot go after them for
discrimination against the ADA.
Whichever way and whenever you choose to disclose your disability can work for or against you, depending on the employer. Yes, if you write the school
for the blind you attended and graduated from and/or the blindness organizations you worked for previously for pay or for volunteer, it's definitely likely
that the doors will be closed. This is only, of course, if the company has not hired other very competent blind people previously or if the company is
not a blindness-related (or associated) company or organization. On the other hand, even listing some public schools can present the same results of closed
doors. Some employers may know of or about the school you listed. If what they heard about the school you listed was positive, then great! If, on the
other hand, what they have heard about your school was negative--the kind of people that attend there, location of the school, etc.--then the doors will
be closed just the same as if you had listed a school for the blind.
Other respondents also mentioned how they were hired via knowing a close friend who also worked at the company. I, too, have learned that it's who
you know, not what you know that can be plus in obtaining that job. You can have all the work experiences and training all you want, but if you don't
have a friend who is a credible employer at the company to which you're applying, then there's nobody who can advocate for you other than yourself. Sure,
an employment counselor from a rehab agency can advocate for you. However, I have found that there seems to be a stigma about rehab agency in some cases.
The idea, I think, that ignorant people have of rehab agencies is that rehab agencies provided services to those who have something wrong with them.
If you combine rehab agencies to having a disability, it can lower your credibility as a prospective employer; thus, where I agree that we should not rely
on rehab agencies to do what we can do--calling the employer, advocating for ourselves, etc. As a respondent said, they only used the rehab agency
for helping develop a resume, and that's all the further it ever went. That's the way, if you have to use a rehab agency, it should be.
I will now share my experiences to illustrate the points I made above. During the summers of 1986-1988, I worked at a nursing home in the kitchen,
canteen, and housekeeping departments for those two summers. The third summer, I worked as a receptionist at our local NFB training center. In 1989,
I got a job at Wendy's through a close neighborhood friend of mine. She brought home an application for me, and during the whole interviewing and screening
process, my friend advocated for me. I did not have to mention at any time that I was blind since my friend had already told them. Sure, there were initial
reservations on Wendy's hiring me because of liability issues--me slipping on a freshly mopped floor or where there was a spill, or me burning myself on
the grills and fryers. Convincing them that everything was going to be alright and that everyone, sighted or blind, slips or burns themselves, I was hired
and stayed there for almost four years while I was attending community college and saving up for further schooling. About three months before I resigned,
they installed a new toaster oven, which was far more dangerous for me to operate, as all the hot components were exposed in the wide open (the previous
toaster had all its hot components enclosed). Moreover, the new toaster did not have any guard rails to follow so that I could avoid burning myself a
thousand times. As a result, there were less jobs that I was able to do, so I left on my own terms before my employer could find reason to terminate my
employment there. Yes, I did try as hard as I could to get them to reinstall the old toaster oven, but it became a futile effort. There excuse was that
the old toaster oven did not work as efficiently as this new one did, and that, if I could not work with it, then there was nothing they could do. After
I left (1993), I spent the next two years receiving computer training through the state services for the blind and looking for jobs in customer service
only to not be successful. I tried all the approaches--stating it upfront over the phone, pulling surprises upon the interview, and advocating for myself
and my abilities to perform the job tasks. IN all cases, I was turned down via rejection letters, or an employer not willing to make accommodations or
wait until I had spoken with my counselor that afternoon about adaptive equipment I would need. even when I finally did speak with my counselor and the
head of the adaptive technology center contacted my prospective employer, the employer was still hesitant, and, thus, I was turned down because *it would
be too hard to make the accommodations*. While the schools I attended never had a bad rap to leave bad tastes in people's mouths, the fact that I worked
for blindness organizations was enough to close the door. It did not matter that it was clearly written on paper that the organization was the NFB. In
essence, while I may have obtained one job through a friend and stayed there for four years, I never had success in future job-hunting excursions.
While I may have stated in the beginning that disclosing your disability upfront is good, what is the difference between disclosing such information
vs. disclosing your race? On an application, filling out the information about your race is optional. When the question on the application asks whether
you have anything that may prohibit you from carrying out the duties of the job, to state your disability or not is also an option. When you call the
employer, you can either tell them about your disability or not, but what applicant tells the employer that they are Black, Asian, Native-American, etc.?
If you don't tell them about your disability in the first two opportunities, then you're pulling a surprise on the person to interview you. Is choosing
the option to not disclose your race and then showing up for the interview as a Black, Asian, or Native-American pulling a surprise as well? Sure, we
may have Civil Rights laws to back those people up. However, again, Civil Rights laws do not cover for people's prejudices or ignorance. Nor does it
cover when they refuse to hire you because they *found someone else who is more qualified* when the real reason is because they are racist. I am a dark-skinned
Asian and blind, so does that mean that I should disclose my blindness as well as my race? These are some things to think about, especially for those
who are minorities and have a disability.

Linda Minnesota USA

**58. Hi Robert. I have learned a lot just from reading the thought-provoker on disclosure. When I was at my former job as a receptionist, this really wasn't
an issue. I had previously gone to school with the program director of the organization, who eventually became its executive director. When his supervisor
asked me if I would like to work there, basically all I had to do was say yes or no. In this case I at first declined, but then after giving it some thought
I thought why not give it a go. My friend was kind enough to tell everybody in the office that there would be a blind person starting, and that they had
to make some adaptations. Then a job coach from the Chicago Lighthouse, as well as the VR counselor I had at the time, came to the office and got the lay
of the land. The technology was ordered, albeit very begrudgingly, and my friend who was back then still the program director, put raised markings on the
phone at the front desk.
Judging from what I have read in this Thought Provoker, I would tell the employer up front about my visual impairment.

Jake Joehl, Illinois USA