What If I Hire A Visually Impaired Person??
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q) How will our company benefit from hiring a blind or visually impaired applicant?
A) There are a number of benefits that stem from such a hire:
- It introduces a new pool of productive, loyal employees to the company
- It introduces diversity to the workplace
- It introduces a new perspective to work and how it can be accomplished
- It introduces a new technology that would not otherwise enter the company
Q) What if we have questions related to the hire?
A) The Sponsoring Agency is available to handle and coordinate resolution both before the hiring occurs and after the employee is on board. The Sponsoring Agency monitors successful employees for a number of reasons: to ensure that the employment process proceeds smoothly, to learn as much as possible about the successful work environment and to maintain a supportive employer relationship that can lead to employment for other blind and visually impaired job seekers.
NOTE: the Sponsoring Agency can be a state agency or a private company involved in employee assessment and training, or a combination of the two.
Q) What kinds of accommodations are required?
A) Possibilities include: increased lighting in the work area, visual aids (e.g., magnifiers or CCTV), tactile identifiers on equipment and clearly identified internal travel paths. Access Technology (AT) for PC’s, screen speech and/or magnification software, and a headset for use with the speech-enhanced PC are key elements in some job environments.
Q) Who determines what accommodations are required?
A) The determination is a joint effort between the employer, the employee and the Sponsoring Agency (where the Sponsoring Agency provides information acquired during Job Readiness training and Vocational Rehabilitation evaluations).
Q) Who pays for the accommodations?
A) The Sponsoring Agency works closely with the state to help provide funding once an employment opportunity is at hand. The cost may be shared by the employer but is usually below $1000, often zero.
Q) Are special computers necessary?
A) No. A blind/visually impaired employee can use the same PC used by all other employees provided it meets certain minimum specifications imposed by the use of Access technology software.
Q) Is the installation and maintenance of the Access technology difficult?
A) No. All current access technology software is Windows-based and installs and runs like any other application program. This software can be deactivated with a simple keystroke or mouse click, so that a sighted person can use the same computer very easily.
Q) Will the speech bother fellow workers?
A) It need not. Headsets are available and, in fact, a single headset can be used to handle both incoming phone calls (in one ear) and speech from the computer (in the other ear). This type of computer system is currently in use in customer service (call center) environments.
Guide Dogs and Canes
Q) What will the guide dog do while the employee is at his/her workspace?
A) The dog is trained to lie in the employee’s workspace, at an appropriate location. No accommodation is normally required.
Q) How are the dog’s functional needs handled?
A) An appropriate spot is chosen outside the work site to ‘park the dog’. This task should be required but a few times a day. Any necessary cleanup is the responsibility of the employee.
Q) What if the employee uses a cane?
A) This should pose no problem. The long white cane has become a universally recognized tool that enables a user to travel safely in any environment. The cane allows the user to detect and to respond to obstacles, steps, dropoffs and changes in surface texture.
Q) How will the employee get to and from work?
A) There are a number of options but the responsibility is the employees. Part of job readiness training is to establish this mindset and to discuss options. Public transportation is option 1. Paratransit is another option (Paratransit is door-to-door transportation, provided under subcontract, to qualified disabled persons). A car pool is often an ideal arrangement, but may not be possible at initiation of employment. Transportation is a concern, but one that can be resolved.
Q) Is training required for this travel?
A) Yes. In most cases a skilled Orientation & Mobility (O&M) specialist will work with the employee for a week or two to ensure that the employee is knowledgeable and comfortable with the travel route. The O&M specialist will also provide training within the work site for the employee. This will be coordinated by the Sponsoring Agency and is a good example of the support provided for both the employee and the employer.
Job Interview/ Job Testing
Q) Will the interviewer know the applicant is blind or visually impaired before they come to the interview?
A) Yes. The resume submitted will stress the applicant’s qualifications for the job opening, but the employer will be contacted before the interview occurs to discuss the applicant’s special status. The goal is to eliminate any awkward moments at the interview so that the focus will be on the applicant’s ability to do the job.
Q) How will the applicant take the employers pre-interview hard copy test?
A) There are a number of possibilities. The Sponsoring Agency will work with the employer to establish one of the following:
- Converting the test to computer format and installing on the PC. The PC has the applicant’s access technology also installed (temporarily, if desired). The applicant then uses his/her access technology software to process the test.
- Recording the test on an audio tape
- A person to read the test (least preferred option