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Seeking Blind People Tossed Out of Their Jobs by Discrimination, Inaccessible Technology

October 3, 2009 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Are you a blind person who has lost your job due to blatant discrimination or inaccessible technology? If so, we want to hear from you!

In a Sept. 30 press release, President Obama said he proclaims October National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Fair access to employment is a fundamental right of every American, including the 54 million people in this country living with disabilities,” Obama said in the press release. “A job can provide financial stability, help maximize our potential, and allow us to achieve our dreams.”

What does this really mean for blind people? Can we have “fair access” to employment while much of the technology used by the sighted remains out of the reach of the screen readers and other assistive technologies that enable us to effectively operate computers? What happens when technology in a workplace changes without a thought to the needs of employees with disabilities? How are we supposed to respond to the removal of “financial stability,” the wasted potential and shattered dreams of blind people who have lost their jobs due to the wreckless actions of thoughtless employers who respond to technology inaccessibility by tossing away the person as though they are yesterday’s newspaper or just so much trash whose usefulness has expired?

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act substantially increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and provided more than $500 million for vocational rehabilitation services, including job training, education, and placement,” said Obama. “If we are to build a world free from unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination, we must ensure that every American receives an education that prepares him or her for future success.”

Although blind people continue to face discrimination and negative stereotypes on a daily basis, many are also hired to fill positions in virtually all walks of life based on their qualifications. Through our own experiences in the world of business and employment, many of us are growing to believe the barrier of inaccessibility is a critical factor that holds us down. In an increasing number of cases, employers would love to hire or retain blind people as employees if only the software they must use in order to do their jobs could be accessed with a screen reader.

Let’s use National Disability Employment Awareness Month to make a strong case for greater accessibility. If you have lost your job because of inaccessible technology or were not hired because the software used in the workplace could not be made accessible, we would like to hear from you right away. Now is the opportunity for you to let your voice be heard around the world, not only on Blind Access Journal, but possibly in the mainstream media. Please e-mail employment@blindaccessjournal.com and tell us your story.

2 opinions on “Seeking Blind People Tossed Out of Their Jobs by Discrimination, Inaccessible Technology

  1. Darrell, Great blog…I forgot I already have it bookmarked…You are certainly bringing awareness to accessibility, and I think a positive, Yes we can,approach is a great tact, for employers and companies.Sometimes it all starts with simply understanding that with the right tools, so many more people will be able to participate in the future of their companies as valuable employees as well as customers. And, If they developed vision loss, they would whole heartedly agree that change is certainly needed.
    I will look forward to reading future articles…
    Good luck this week…
    It was wonderful talking to you both today…
    Karen, feel better soon, good luck on friday.

  2. I have been searching the internet for days looking for some ideas for a career choice. I graduated high school a year earlier than anticipated and I had been accepted to Meredith Manor Equestrian Center in Waverly, WV. I decided to tour before my start date and was devasted when I was told by the owner that they were withdrawing my acceptance because they felt I was a liability and a safety issue due to my visual impairment. I had planned on attending this school for almost two years. I never tried to hide my visual impairment, as a matter of fact I was so forth coming with them.
    The problem is I do not know what I am going to do. I know that I do not want to settle for just a job, and I do not want to go into a field that I am not interested in. I realize there are other equestrian schools out there but I am afraid they will have the same response and then I will have yet another disappointment.
    It is my dream to someday own and operate my own equestrian facility, complete with training, breeding, equine massage therapy as well as offering camps and clinics to child with disabilities.
    I am just not sure how to do that when I keep coming up to obstacles like the one with Meredith Manor.
    Please take the time to read more about myself by going to http://www.mdsupport.org/tutorials.html
    This link is a short biography that I have written entitled “Finding My Stride”.
    You can also read about me at http://tinyurl.com/y9lp9lj
    This link is an article about me in the Mid Atlantic Horse Magazine
    Another article can be found by googling Freedom Guide Dog and entering their site and clicking on Newsletters. The article written about me is the Fall 09 issue.
    Please if you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate them.

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