* Are there particular jobs blind people are best suited for?
Tom Lange: Well, let’s put it this way. There are jobs that obviously require vision and you wouldn’t want a blind guy performing them. When is the last time you saw a blind fireman, cab/bus driver or commercial pilot?
Seriously, though, when we met at EmpowerTech recently, we talked about the high unemployment rate in the blind community. There are a number of factors at work here. Some of the unemployed blind lack the motivation and/or sufficient incentive to go to work.
Some lack sufficient training in the required job skills and assistive technology. We at EmpowerTech can help with that.
Other people have sufficient qualifications to perform a number of jobs but have been unable to find work because many employers are operating under misconceptions that the blind are unable to live and work equally well as their sighted peers. Thus they (the employers) dismiss the possibility that there are blind people out there who have the qualifications and access to the appropriate technology to help them get the job done. Furthermore, they are unaware that statistics have shown that disabled people, including the blind, exhibit a higher level of motivation and will in fact perform better then their nondisabled peers. It’s up to employers to learn about our abilities and these statistics, but, it’s equally important if not more so for blind people to get out and really sell themselves, thereby promoting that awareness.
* Are there any jobs where blind people have an advantage over the sighted?
Tom Lange: I’m not sure that I can give you a definite answer to that one. However, I’m certain that there are some examples where increased hearing, sense of touch, smell et cetera can contribute to better performance. I know a guy who had developed a knack for diagnosing a variety of mechanical problems by hearing alone, and he used that ability effectively as a Porsche mechanic for a number of years. As I come up with other examples I’ll pass them on to you.