CAMBRIDGE, MA - Job seekers with visual impairments, who are often overlooked by employers despite their qualifications, had the chance to network and learn about career opportunities on Wednesday, October 17, at The 8th Annual Job Fair for Individuals with Visual Impairments held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University
More than two dozen leading organizations from the Boston area, including Museum of Fine Arts, Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard University, took part in the event designed to promote inclusion in the workplace. Representatives from these organizations met with job seekers to discuss new opportunities, learn how they can make their workplaces more accessible and, importantly, why creating a level playing field in the hiring process is so important.
“We’re here to celebrate the skills and talents of people with disabilities,” said Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Dean of Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University, a co-sponsor of the event, during opening remarks. “But it’s also a time to raise awareness of the importance of building an inclusive workforce.”
Today, smart organizations are diversifying their talent pools and that includes hiring people with disabilities. In 2016 alone, nearly 350,000 people with disabilities joined the American workforce, representing a 400% uptick over the prior year. But there’s still a long way to go, as unemployment rates facing people with a disability remain higher than for those without.
For Christian Thaxton, who found success at a past fair and attended as a speaker this year, those statistics are meaningful. Having lost his vision as a teenager, he once thought his career opportunities would be limited. That changed after he attended his first job fair, where he met, interviewed with and was ultimately hired by Tufts Health Plan.
“I realized I didn't have to cater my career to my vision loss and that's why this fair is so important.” he said. “I just want to leave you with this: which one of your future employees will be speaking up here next year?”
“People with blindness or visual impairments are just like anybody else,” added David D’Arcangelo, Commissioner of Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. “So let’s ameliorate the challenges they face and show the world people with disabilities can work shoulder to shoulder with everyone else.”
The Job Fair was co-sponsored by Perkins School for the Blind, The Carroll Center for the Blind, The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, National Braille Press and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Vision Works Consortium
A joint effort of the Mass. Commission for the Blind, The Carroll Center for the Blind and Perkins School for the Blind connecting Massachusetts businesses and individuals who are blind and visually impaired to foster a strong workforce and career opportunities.
The Carroll Center empowers individuals who are blind and low vision by providing rehabilitation skills, technology training, and career development opportunities so they can achieve independence and self-fulfillment. www.carroll.org
The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), an agency of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, provides the highest quality rehabilitation and social services to individuals who are legally blind, leading to independence and full community participation. MCB accomplishes this critical mission by working in partnership with consumers who are legally blind, families, community agencies, health care providers, and employers.www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/mcb/
Perkins School for the Blind
Leading since 1829, Perkins' global mission fosters access and inclusion through education. Perkins prepares students for the world and the world for our students because every person can maximize their independence and fulfill their unique potential. Learn more at www.Perkins.org.