People with vision loss often face steep barriers to employment, despite having the same hopes, dreams, and talents as everyone else. They experience persistently low employment rates — just 44 percent of people who are blind or visually impaired are employed, compared with 79 percent of those without disabilities. AFB recognizes the critical importance of economic self-sufficiency and empowerment for people who are blind and visually impaired, which is why employment is an area of significant focus.
The reason behind these low employment rates has nothing to do with the capabilities and qualifications of people with vision loss. It’s because employers don’t understand how people who are blind or visually impaired can fit in and contribute to the workplace. The necessary technology accommodations can be as simple as functionality that’s already built into smartphones and computers. Plus, people who are blind or visually impaired can bring diversity and unique abilities — such as stellar problem-solving skills developed over a lifetime of adapting to a society designed for sighted people — to the workplace.
Through research, education and advocacy, AFB is pushing for a transformation of workplace cultures and perceptions, so that people who are blind or visually impaired will be judged on their qualifications for the job and nothing else.
AFB is also actively engaged in developing programs and policies to significantly increase employment rates, particularly in professional careers in financial services, healthcare, and information technology. AFB’s current emphasis is on strengthening existing employment programs, creating new employment opportunities and developing future leaders.
AFB has a number of key initiatives underway, with many more in development: