By Dan Sullivan
So, graduation time is near. I still remember what it was like. Before you now dawns an entire world of opportunities. Some of these will involve further education, while others will mean looking for a job. Either way, a reality check will begin. And because you are someone with vision loss, the twists and turns you are about to experience will test your resolve and resilience.
In a world that each day becomes more and more visually oriented, any lack of acuity certainly does not lend itself to being an attribute. As such, you must now learn to counterpunch with advocacy and assertiveness. Your goal is not to just be equal, but to be better. To attain this success, it will absolutely require that you build tangible credentials.
There are two educations that everyone needs. One comes by way of the classroom and the other from outside of this realm. Far too many fail to seek the latter. As someone with a disability, you need to explore every resource available. That means getting involved with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, clubs, peers, and mentors. Don’t just settle on becoming a client of these groups, but strive as well to immerse yourself as a member or volunteer. If a resource you need doesn’t exist, be the catalyst toward creating it.
No matter what career field you are venturing toward, you are actually interning each and every day through your activities. Whether disabled or not, you need to craft answers to the same interview questions about skills and successes. Ask yourself on a daily basis what you accomplished today that makes you better than yesterday. Always bear in mind that the average candidate is usually not the one chosen for that job opening. Because you are already out of the ordinary, don’t aspire toward being simply ordinary.
Regardless of the ADA and other advances, there are still many roadblocks for those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Although the realities of prejudice, discrimination and ignorance cannot be denied, they can be outwitted and defied. Again, this will result from getting involved and sometimes going outside your comfort zone. If you do not want to be defined by a limitation, show those around you the vision you do have by serving on a board, assisting in the coordination of a local event, joining a civic organization, seeking out mentors, job shadowing, researching resources, attending seminars, and never being afraid to ask for help or advice.
None of what I have mentioned comes easy. Then again, if you are someone who has dealt with vision loss, dealing with tough challenges is nothing new to you. And that is one attribute you must exploit!
Dan Sullivan lives in Wausau, Wisconsin and is the author of four books.