THOUGHT PROVOKER 75
Four Types Of Blind Job Seekers
Last Updated February 27, 2004
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
“I’ve lined up a job and all I need from rehab is support for the employer as to where to get the needed equipment and possible assistance in its purchase.” the guy said, confidence and expectation ringing in his voice. He was an active client of mine and had called , setup this 8:00 AM meeting. We had just recapped his history of having attended our rehab center and his just completed MBA. I was a veteran counselor and had a new trainee with me for the day.
Our second appointment was with a middle aged woman, a former client. She had called requesting a counselor come out for a visit. “I need to find some type of work. My kids are all in school now and I need to help my families finances. I’m willing to try anything, even if it requires school or some kind of training first.” she said and it was plain to hear sincerity in the “why” of her desire and the uncertainty in the “what.”
Our third appointment was with a 19 year old guy. The request had come from his mother, a frustrated parent. “Jack’s in the computer room.” said his mother, pointing to a hallway. “To get his attention, hit the power switch to off if you need too.”
“A job?” Jack said, seated at an L-shaped desk, still holding onto a handheld magnifier he had been using to read a magazine of computer parts and assessories as we had walked in. “Well, depends...”
Our fourth appointment was with Marvin, a former client (I hadn’t worked with him, but a couple of other counselors in the office had). The referral had come from a concerned State Social Worker. The worker had been trying to motivate him, get him out of his apartment, involved in life. “Who’s there?” Marvin’s voice spoke through the closed door. I gave a brief explanation. He answered back, “Call next week.”
“Quite the variety!” said the trainee.
“Yes, both in challenges and rewards. Here are several questions: A. What do you do to meet the challenge in each case? B. Which one will give you the greatest reward when they go to work? C. Is all this normal for any group? D. What feelings or questions do you have?”
**1. Anyone working with visually impaired people will have met the four individuals you described. There may not be much you can do for the last two except to get them into a rehabilitation center for evaluation and some skills training. The first may need some support once he hits the streets looking for work. Someone who has had success in school isn't necessarily ready to face the skepticism he will face from potential employers. The second client
will probably be the most fun to help. She needs some confidence and some evaluation of skills. As a professional, working with her, you have both the potential of making a real difference and a person motivated to make the effort. Martin will probably be the hardest to reach and Jack will probably be the most frustrating. He doesn't see that he has a problem to begin with and has something that will fill his time to his satisfaction, whether it leads
to employment or not. He also will believe that just any old job is beneath his notice as it will take him away from what he likes to do.
DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega
**2. If I was a new VR counselor I'd find the caseload of these 4 types to be a real challenge.
As for the first one, he really sounds on top of it all. What he portrays looks good and I’d hope it was all true. If I can go by what the writer is indicating, that the counselor really knows this guy, then what we see in his segment of this short narrative must be true. Most times I would like to be a part of the process, at least be known by the employer so that if there is any unforeseen weirdness upon the employers part, that they would have an identifiable avenue to seek answers. I don’t want to sound too cautious here, but I do want this placement to succeed.
For the second case, it really looks like fun. This lady is ready to soak up all that she is given. Just lay out the structure and she’ll really go after it. You know some things she needs to know, so just make them available to her and she will do the rest.
As for the third guy, there is an opportunity here! Knowing what turns him on, the computer or Tec stuff, dangle that in front of him and he’ll go for it. I don’t think you can counsel him much, I don’t think I’d try to get him to come around to all that you would want him to be thinking and acting, but I felt the story showed a focus person, a guy that will give his most if it fits his narrow little world. So do a lot of ground work first in finding the best place, do the talking with the employer to what ever extent is correct for this and then take the client in and I bet like a magnet attracts that what attracts it, the two (client and job) will come together. Only later will this guy thank you.
As for the third guy, WOW! Some real counseling and easing into the world will need to take place. I’d use some peers, I’d try a volunteer job first. I’m thinking this guy needs to take very small steps first.
In finishing, I bet counselors will miss many good placements by not handling the number 3 kind of client right. The opportunity is there! Just don’t get complex with it. the guy knows what he likes and you can’t change him, you can’t broaden him.
Ron Nelsen USA
**3. I think that the varying levels of motivation to want to work and actually look for a job occurs in any kind of group of people--blind or sighted.
Without entirely repeating what the two respondents have already said, I think that the third and fourth clients would be the most challenging for me to
work with regardless of whether I'm a new VR counselor or have been in the profession for eons. The essential ingredient among all these clients is to
have motivation to want to work and to put that motivation into action--skills training, job-hunting, scheduling interviews with employers, etc.--which
clients 1 and 2 exhibit outright. If you don't have motivation to achieve goals, then you won't achieve them; thus, not getting anywhere. As they say,
"what you put into life is what you get out of it". well, what the clients put into looking for and obtaining a job is what they get out of it. Of course,
there are those obstacles of employers refusing to hire people with disabilities due to ignorance or prejudice, but there's nothing you can do about that
except to just go on with life yet not sell yourself short. As for rewards, the greatest reward for me would be to see clients 3 and 4 actually obtain
employment in their fields of interests.
**4. This is an interesting one. Personally I don't really think blind or
visually-impaired job seekers are that much different than those with
perfect vision and no other special needs. The only difference I see is that
we as blind or visually-impaired people, and people with other types of
special needs, need adaptations to do our jobs well. But we are looking for
employment, just as people without special needs are looking for employment.
Regarding the attitudes of the job-seekers being different, I don't think
this is the case. I for one, despite the total lack of support from the
Bureau of Blind Services, would like a job. I shouldn't really say that BBS
has ignored me totally, but for the most part, my parents and I have been on
our own. I went to some mock interviews held at my new VR counselor's
office, but nobody ever followed up on them except for me and my folks.
Jacob Joehl Chicago, Illinois USA
**5. This is an interesting topic. I tend to agree up to a point with the
observation that the blind mirror other types of people in society, but only
up to a point. There are a lot of issues which add complexity to the blind
job-seeker; some of them are overt i.e. lack of understanding by many
employers; some of them are more pronounced such as slotting into certain
careers, or issues of self-esteem which may or may not be related to
There are challenges with the reclusive person that go well beyond the job.
Obviously, there needs to be a lot of work on socialization and life skills.
As a blind human resources professional (now early retired), I know that
without well-adjusted skills in these other areas, I could not have achieved a
successful career in this field. The first two will be easier to deal with,
assuming the first one has his life together as much as it would appear by his
demeanor. I think the second person would give one an immense amount of
satisfaction once she's successfully employed, as there will be more
involvement on the part of the VR counsellor and she seems to have all the
motivation in the world.
Steve Pollo, Michigan USA
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