Talking about your vision loss is a personal decision. What suits you may not be applicable to another individual, and what works in a given situation may not be a success in other cases.
Mentioning your vision loss or blindness in your motivation letter or your resume, during the interview or upon confirmation of employment, depends on you and the situation. If you are talking to a service provider or a placement agency working with handicapped people, you will have some room for manoeuvre. The decision is yours.
Disclosing or not?
Before deciding whether to mention your blindness, when and how, take a careful look at the following questions:
- Is your visual impairment visible?
- How do most people react when they find out that you are visually impaired? How do you pull yourself together afterwards?
- When do you feel most at ease to talk about your visual impairment?
- May the nondisclosure of your visual impairment put you or other people at risk?
- Will the employer think that you are untrustworthy? How would you face such a reaction?
- What kind of prejudice may the employer have about blindness?
- If you open up about your visual impairment, can you assure him/her that it will not prevent you from doing the work?
- Asking for certain adaptations will most likely mean that you will have to mention your blindness. Will you need accommodation for the interview or in the workplace?
- What do you know about this employer’s policies about handicapped people and his experience on this matter?
Some tips about disclosure
If you have had little success in situations where you have opened up about your blindness, or if you feel uncomfortable, try a role play with supportive friends or family members.
- Be positive. Use your blindness as an asset and talk about the numerous skills that you have due to your handicap (e.g. troubleshooting abilities, indepth knowledge of adapted technologies, etc.). Highlight your abilities and picture blindness as a strength and an asset.
- Be prepared to answer any concerns that the employer may have, even if he/she does not share them explicitly.
- Be aware of the workplace accommodations that meet your needs, including their availability and costs, as well as any funding to which the employer may be entitled. (Why not bring the device or adapted technology to the interview in order to give a demo and answer the employer’s questions?).
- If you have decided to talk about your blindness, think about the questions that the employer may ask and prepare your answers. Give examples.
Talking about your visual impairment may be the main element of uncertainty in your job search. Mentioning this handicap or not, how and when to do it is entirely up to you. Once you have made your decision, ask yourself one last question: is talking about my blindness now and in this way likely to help me meet my goal to find a job?
*The information identified with an * has been provided by Chelsea E. Mohler, Research Advisor for the National Association of Handicapped Students (partly adapted from the advice given by the career orientation and placement services of the University of Alberta) and slightly modified by CNIB for a blind or visually impaired audience.