Seeing past disabilities in the job search

Harvard Extension School and Perkins School for the Blind join forces on new course

A woman with a white cane speaks with a man wearing a suit

Job applicants with visual impairments face distinct barriers when speaking with prospective employers. Hiring managers can learn to reduce those obstacles and tap a rich talent pool.

November 28, 2016

The hardest part of a job search may not be filling out the online application or even acing the interview, but getting your resume noticed by the right people.

Add a disability and the obstacles are magnified. According to recent American Community Survey data, 46 percent of disabled people in the U.S. rated their last experience applying for a job online as “difficult to impossible.” The same study found that the vast majority of disabled job seekers do not even reach the interview stage, despite having the education and skills to qualify them for a range of jobs. As a result, the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities was 10.7 percent in 2015 — more than twice the rate for those with no disability (5.3 percent).

Harvard Extension School Dean Huntington D. Lambert knows this problem all too well. Lambert is a member of the Perkins School for the Blind Board of Trustees and the Perkins Business Partnership (PBP), an alliance between the school and local businesses and nonprofits working to combat the high unemployment rate among people who are blind or visually impaired.

Read the full story in The Harvard Gazette