[nfbwatlk] Re Job hunting

debby phillips semisweetdebby at gmail.com
Sat Nov 8 02:21:39 UTC 2014

Hi Elizabeth, what a thoughtful email you have posted.  You see, 
I have been wondering what it means to "live the life you want".  
What does it mean to have "meaningful" employment? And what would 
it look like to be accepted or rejected on the basis of my 
qualifications, not my blindness.  The deeper question for me is: 
Why is it that we were taught that we will probably be rejected 
because of our blindness? So then when that does happen we can't 
honestly assess whether we just weren't the right fit for a 
position or we are rejected because we're blind.

Mary Ellen mentioned that there was a time when we got jobs even 
when there were no computers, and things were not accessible.  I 
understand that, and had readers and got things brailled, and 
brailled things myself.  But the nature of jobs has changed.  For 
instance, when I first started at IRS, only people who worked in 
the Accounts area had computers.  The rest of us who dealt mainly 
with tax law and procedural questions, used books.  The sighted 
folks had books that they looked things up in.  The version they 
had for us which was on Versabraille disc, was barely readable.  
So we memorized.  We took copious notes about things.  I had 
shelves and shelves of braille bookseaall the tax publications.  
I was a fast braille reader, so I could keep up with my sighted 
counterparts pretty well, once I got things organized in an 
orderly manner.  Then along came computers and the Internet, and 
the Intranet.

They gave us a day-long training in JAWS, I kid you not.  (No 
wonder ow still hate it and have a phobia about it).  Anyway, I 
saw my sighted coworkers begin to be able to use the mouse to 
just click on stuff.  I still had to use the keyboard.  I still 
did 80 calls a day, though.  And about half the time, I still 
used my braille materials, in hard copy.  But now things are very 
different.  Technology is changing ever more rapidly, jobs are 
becoming more sophisticated, and as technology changes, the folks 
making the screen readers and all struggle to keep up.  What ow 
was told about call center jobs here in Spokane, for instance, is 
that the scripts keep changing and the companies that have the 
call centers can't or won't help to make JAWS and their software 
work together.  I have no idea whether, after my interview on 
Wednesday, I will be hired or not.  And if I am hired will their 
system and JAWS work together? That's what I don't know.  I 
believe I can do what they need done for this job, I have the 
skill and ability to answer the questions, etc.  What I don't 
know is whether JAWS or Window Eyes or whatever, will work.  So 
not only do I have to project an attitude of confidence, 
professionalism, and show my skill, I also have to worry about 
whether the technology that they use will be a stumblingblock to 
my getting hired.  Maybe it's not so totally blindness-related 
but in a way it is.  Sighted folks don't worry about whether they 
will be able to access the computer to do the job.

Well, I'd best get going.  Sorry for the ramble here.    PEACE,    

More information about the NFBWATlk mailing list