October 10, 2005.
In conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) announced the expansion of its CareerConnect(r) program to ensure people with vision loss have equal access to employment opportunities. The new, online resources are specifically targeted for employers, job seekers with vision loss, and rehabilitation service providers.
An estimated 10 million Americans are blind or have low vision, and less than 50 percent of these working-aged adults are successfully employed. Furthermore, a third of those who have jobs have an average monthly pay rate that is 37 percent lower than the pay rate of people who are not disabled. Addressing this issue of low employment, and underemployment, for people with vision loss is a critical objective for AFB.
"The technology and educational infrastructure exists today to enable more people with vision loss than ever before to enter the workforce," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. "But for that to happen, employers, job seekers, and other stakeholders need targeted information to meet their specific needs. That's where AFB comes in."
AFB's CareerConnect program ( http://www.afb.org/careerconnect ) showcases the diversity of jobs held by people with vision loss and provides employment resources for five distinct audiences:
Job Seekers with Vision Loss.
Students or adults with vision loss exploring career options or starting the job hunt can find everything from resume and interviewing tips to ideas about career options. There is also a variety of information for visually impaired job seekers of all ages on the range of assistive technology available today that open new career options for people with vision loss.
Employers and Human Resources Professionals.
AFB surveyed HR professionals and hiring managers at Fortune 500 companies to find out what resources they need to encourage more hiring of people with vision loss. The results showed a need for clear and concise information delivered from a business perspective on topics such as the cost implications of workplace accommodations; ADA compliance; and tips on interviewing job candidates with vision loss.
Rehabilitation Professionals and Educators.
This section of the program offers information to rehabilitation professionals and educators working with clients who have vision loss. The resources focus on helping professionals assist job seekers in acquiring the skills and training they need to obtain positions in their fields of interest. There is also information on how to help people with age-related vision loss learn the skills they need to stay on the job.
Over 1,000 employed people with vision loss, representing over 300 occupations, are registered as mentors with CareerConnect. The program coaches mentors on techniques for passing on skills and advice to mentees, highlights mentors' success stories, and allows job seekers to search for mentors in their field of interest.
Parents, Family, and Friends.
Parents of children with vision loss play a fundamental role in helping them achieve their educational and career goals. AFB provides resources on how to learn about and obtain assistive technology critical for students' success, informs parents about the professional services available to assist with the transition from school to work, and offers general information about vision loss.
"AFB's CareerConnect program is leading the way to ensure employers and job seekers alike come to believe what AFB already knows -- people with vision loss are productive, loyal workers who deserve equal access to contribute to the workforce," continued Augusto.
Source URL: http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=54783.
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