Career Counseling for Clients who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

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Purpose: To provide information on best practices when encountering clients who are blind or have vision loss. . Eye Conditions: Their Impact on the Workforce. Age-Related Vision Loss in the Workplace. As baby boomers age, people with age-related vision loss is expected to double over the next 30 years.65% with VI are people 55 and overOnset begins in people in their late 40\'s or early 50\'s--American Foundation for the Blind.
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1. Career Counseling for Clients who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Lauri Dishman, M.A., LCPC Manager of Counseling Services Guild for the Blind

3. Eye Conditions: Their Impact on the Workforce

4. Age-Related Vision Loss in the Workplace As baby boomers age, people with age-related vision loss is expected to double over the next 30 years. 65% with VI are people 55 and over Onset begins in people in their late 40?s or early 50?s --American Foundation for the Blind

5. Ranges of Vision Loss

6. Low Vision Vision loss that may be severe enough to impede a person's ability to carry on everyday activities, but still allows some functionally useful sight. Examples: macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma

7. Legal Blindness A level of visual impairment that has been defined by law to determine eligibility for benefits. It refers to central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.

8. Total Blindness The complete lack of form and visual light perception

9. Types of Visual Impairments

10. Cataract A condition in which the lens of the eye, which is normally clear, becomes cloudy or opaque.

11. Cataract

12. Macular Degeneration Disease that causes dysfunction of the macula, the area in the middle of the retina that makes possible the sharp central vision needed for such everyday activities as reading, driving, and recognizing faces and colors

13. Macular Degeneration

14. Glaucoma Disease in which the pressure of the fluid inside the eye is too high, resulting in a loss of peripheral vision. If the condition is not diagnosed and treated, the increased pressure can damage the optic nerve and eventually lead to blindness.

15. Glaucoma

16. Diabetic Retinopathy Eye condition that results from the damaging effect of diabetes on the circulatory system of the retina. Changes in the tiny blood vessels of the retina can lead to vision loss.

17. Diabetic Retinopathy

18. Professionals Who Can Help

19. Optometrist A health care provider who specializes in refractive errors, prescribes eyeglasses or contact lenses and diagnoses and manages conditions of the eye as regulated by state laws. Ay also perform low vision examinations.

20. Ophthalmologist A physician who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and is qualified to prescribe ocular medications and to perform surgery on the eyes.

21. Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) Personal Management (grooming, hygiene, clothing organization, medical measurement) Home Management (organization and labeling, repair and home maintenance, budgeting and record keeping, etc.) Activities of Daily Living (cooking, cleaning, shopping, safety, money organization and management) This includes techniques to stay organized in the workplace.

22. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COM) Concept Development, which includes body image, spatial, temporal, positional, directional and environmental concepts Motor Development, including motor skills needed for balance, posture, and gait, as well as the use of adaptive devices Sensory Development, which includes visual, auditory, senses and their interrelationships Techniques for traveling in indoor and outdoor environments

23. COM (Cont?d) Residual vision stimulation and training Human Guide Technique Locating Dropped Objects, trailing, Cane techniques Soliciting and Declining Assistance Utilizing Landmarks, search patterns, route planning, Analysis and identification of intersections and traffic patterns, techniques for crossing streets Using public transportation

24. Breakthrough Technology

25. Computer Software JAWS (Freedom Scientific) ZoomText (Ai Squared) I Zoom ? Portable Screen Magnification (No installation needed)

26. Text to Digital Zoom-Ex (ABISee)

27. Audio Files Victor Reader Stream (Humanware)

28. Video Magnification Acrobat (Enhanced Vision)

29. Where to Get Help

30. Government and Private Agencies State Department of Rehabilitation Services/Bureau of Blind Services Local Veteran?s Administration Local Blindness Agencies (Guild for the Blind, Chicago Lighthouse) American Foundation for the Blind 800-232-5463 (To find services in your area)

31. Model of Successful Work Experience for Employees Who are Visually Impaired Golub Study

32. Golub Study Surveyed employers of workers with visual impairments who demonstrated great success on the job. Through data analysis of results, was able to devise an integrative model of successful employment. Includes 7 steps that employers can take and 7 steps employees can take to ultimately generate success for both parties.

33. Model for Employers ? Step 1 Core Values from the Top Down Instill the value of diversity as a strength. Have this flow from the top of the organization down to the working core. The Counselor?s Role: Look for employers with these values. Mission statements are often good places to look. Also, what types of charities do companies and organizations contribute to?

34. Model for Employers ? Step 2 Fill the Toolbox Provide the physical tools that employees need to do their jobs. The Counselor?s Role: Help the client learn how to advocate for themselves. Lead them to resources such as the Job Accommodation Network with information and resources for how people with difference levels of vision loss can accomplish certain tasks. Find out where to get these devices and their approximate costs. Help them work with their DRS counselor to acquire these products.

35. Model for Employers ? Step 3 Accessibility and Accommodations All employees should have equal access to all information The Counselor?s Role: If there is a problem, help clients learn how to advocate for themselves in a way that doesn?t jeopardize their working alliance. Understand the ?letter? and ?spirit? of the ADA.

36. Employer Model ? Step 4 Attitude Counts Try to remove the blindness stigma from the attitudes of other employees. Do what is necessary to make the workplace a level playing field where everyone is treated equally (both positively and negatively)

37. Employer?s Role ? Step 5 Words Speak as Loudly as Actions Using words instead of actions to let the worker with visual impairment know what?s going on. Understand the proper etiquette when encountering someone who is blind or visually impaired.

38. Model for Employers ? Step 6 Expect the same Performance

39. Model for Employers ? Step 7 Mutual Accommodation recognize that differences among individuals are substantial and must be accommodated regardless of whether they add value

40. Model for Employees ? Step 1 Your Comfort is Contagious Person with visual impairment is comfortable in their skin, can ask for what they need. Treats the disability as just a part of who they are. People at this stage have accepted their situation, are open to talk about it and show people the tools and devices they use to do their jobs. The Counselor?s Role: Refer for support and counseling services if necessary. Encourage the expansion of social networks and support systems. Expose client to successful and mobile people who are B/VI.

41. Model for Employees ? Step 2 Blindness Competencies Be up-to-date on mobility and assistive technology skills The Counselor?s Role: Refer to a CVRT and COM. Refer to the state DHS for free services

42. Model for Employees ? Step 3 Be An Ambassador for Blindness It?s the responsibility of the person with vision loss to ameliorate the awkwardness. The Counselor?s Role: Encourage clients to be open with fellow workers.

43. Model for Employees ? Step 4 Positive Attitude Having a positive attitude is contagious. Takes away the discomfort. The Counselor?s Role: Help client work through barriers, increase confidence and self-esteem. Refer out if necessary.

44. Model for Employees ? Step 5 Work Etiquette Show manners and good social skills. Understand non-verbal communication ?without the eyes? The Counselor?s Role: Job Readiness Training with emphasis on ways to instill these skills for people with Vision Loss. Tactics that are B/VI specific. (e.g. the Guild?s C.E.O. Program)

45. Model for Employees ? Step 6 Insist on Being Held to the Same Standard This applies in terms of performance and job duties

46. Model for Employees ? Step 7 Mutual Accommodation People with Visual Impairments need to help the employer move toward a model of mutual accommodation, where there is open dialogue about different ways to accomplish tasks and discuss things from different perspectives. Counselor?s Role: Encourage clients to ask employers to form multi-cultural taskforces

47. References American Foundation for the Blind; Glossary of Eye Conditions; Blasch, Wiener, Welsh; Foundations of Orientation and Mobility, Second Edition; AFB Press 2000; p 750. Academy for Certification of Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, Golub (2006); A Model of Successful Work Experience for Employees Who are Visually Impaired: The Results of a Study; Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness Photos provided by Lighthouse International, ABISee, Humaware, and Advanced Vision.

48. Contact Information Lauri Dishman, M.A., LCPC Manager of Counseling Services Guild for the Blind 180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1700 Chicago, IL 60601 312-236-8569

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