A woman uses a refreshable braille display at an office desk.

Career Advancement: Is Now A Good Time to Change?

Discussion of how to make a decision about career advancement if you're blind and which factors to consider

In life, we are frequently faced with decisions. Some decisions are easy, and others involve extensive pondering and soul-searching. Recently, I was faced with the decision of whether to accept a new job, and I wish to share some thoughts on how my final decision was reached.

I often review the internal career postings at my company, and apply for opportunities which sound appealing. I was recently a finalist for the position of Account Executive. Duties of this position included responding to inquiries from internal departments, resolving misunderstandings between customers and third-party suppliers, and representing the company at public hearings. After reviewing multiple applications, the human resource department scheduled a one-hour interview for me with two supervisors of this new department. During the interview, I highlighted my strengths, reviewed my background, and briefly described accommodations (JAWS, braille documentation, and the PacMate notetaker.) I also learned additional details about the position, and found out that 85% of the job involves reading handwritten forms. Following the interview, I sent an e-mail to each gentleman to reiterate the strengths I would bring to the job, and to thank them for meeting with me.

The idea of handwritten forms kept nagging at me. I began calling friends in the blindness field to ask about scanners, and whether handwritten documents could be converted using a text-to-speech program or a Braille display. Each person said that scanners have gotten much better, but cannot interpret handwriting.

A few weeks later, I had a second meeting with the two supervisors. They said my skills were impressive, and they were willing to have someone read me each handwritten document. On some days, there are hundreds of forms, and someone would have been reading to me for hours. I talked with family members and a close friend about this offer. I have always been independent, and take pride in performing tasks on my own. Therefore, the idea of having someone sitting with me was bothersome. After a few days, I decided that this new opportunity would not be the best fit, and sent an e-mail to remove my name from consideration.

Choosing not to accept the job was a difficult one. I like learning new skills, and parts of the opportunity were quite appealing. However, I would have felt uneasy asking for assistance with 85% of the job duties. Certainly, I love working with others, and know that everyone seeks assistance from a colleague occasionally, but 85% is a very high number. As you consider a transition, I encourage you to analyze each part of an opportunity, seek advice from others, and look deep inside yourself to ensure you will feel content with your final decision.

Career advancement collage

By Tim Vernon


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