Online Program

Barriers to employment among the blind and visually impaired: Findings from two comprehensive statewide needs assessments

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Amy Flowers, Ph.D., Analytic Insight, Lewiston, ME
Andrea Libby, M.A. Clinical Psychology, Analytic Insight, Lewiston, ME
The employment rate among persons with disabilities is much lower compared to persons without disabilities and those with blindness or severe visual impairment find the search for employment daunting. Using the results of two Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessments, we examine the challenges blind and visually impaired consumers face when seeking employment. Delays in the arrival of adaptive equipment, employers' misconceptions, and the need for reliable transportation are just three of the barriers commonly encountered. In this presentation we examine the most common misconceptions among employers, the adaptive equipment most frequently requested and most commonly lacking, as well as other structural impediments to finding work for the blind and visually impaired. We also discuss consumers' desire to work, motivation and disincentives perceived by blind and visually impaired persons. Our data are based on interviews with employers, community rehabilitation providers, consumers of vocational rehabilitation services and the staff at those services. We examine the issue of barriers to employment through each perspective. Participants will leave with an understanding of the needs and opportunities within each stage of the process: from state vocational rehabilitation service to employers and consumers.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Compare and contrast the needs of Blind or visually impaired individuals, the community rehabilitation providers, state vocational rehabilitation staff and employers related to obtaining employment for blind or visually impaired individuals. Identify the full spectrum of barriers to employment faced by those with blindness or visual impairments. Demonstrate an understanding of the gaps between vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities for Blind and visually impaired persons.

Keyword(s): Disability Studies, Needs Assessment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Flowers specializes in needs assessment and program evaluation research, providing expertise in program design, capacity and infrastructure, community-based initiatives, policy research and research methodologies. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and her Bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Flowers has spent 20 years managing evaluation research projects, specializing in aging and disability populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.