Unique Job Fair at Radcliffe Institute Held during National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Employers Get a New Perspective on Job Seekers Who Are Visually Impaired
October 16, 2014

Finding the right employee is hard. Finding a job is hard, too. If you’re blind, the job search is far more daunting. Current estimates put the jobless rate for people with impaired vision at more than 70 percent. On October 16, the Commonwealth’s major blindness organizations are sponsoring a unique job fair to help match up qualified candidates with employers who need their skills.

For the fourth consecutive year, job-ready individuals who are blind or visually impaired will connect with Massachusetts businesses—public, private, and nonprofit—that are ready to hire qualified, hardworking employees amid the reported steady growth in our nation’s economy. This job fair is expected to draw 100 job seekers to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University’s Knafel Center, 10 Garden St., Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday, October 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Roughly 30 of the state’s largest employers—such as Boston Scientific, Harvard University, Harvard Vanguard Medical, Hyatt Hotels, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Museum of Science, Partners HealthCare, State Street, Lowe’s, TD Bank, T.J.Maxx, and Tufts Health Plan—will be on hand to meet with prospective candidates.

The job fair will give well-prepared candidates with vision impairments an opportunity to learn about local employers and, more important, for potential employers to learn about the many outstanding skills any one of these candidates can bring to the right job. Employers will learn about workplace accommodations for people with impaired vision, along with tips on how to interact with someone who is blind. In addition, the job fair will showcase specialty and mainstream technologies and devices that enable employees with vision loss to succeed on the job.

According to a recent survey by National Industries for the Blind, a vast majority of Americans express confidence in the work product of people who are blind or have severe disabilities. Employers who hire individuals with impaired vision report a high rate of success in the workplace from dependable, loyal, highly skilled performers. Despite all that good news, the jobless rate for the visually impaired is more than 70 percent—more than 10 times the US unemployment rate of 5.9 percent. The October 16 job fair is designed to help turn that around.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which highlights the many benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Richard Curtis from State Street Corporation, a Boston-based investment management firm, has provided summer internships for visually impaired college students for the past two summers. He was impressed by the quality of candidates he met at the job fair. “We tried to push them and they loved that... They don’t want to be coddled,” Curtis said. “Once they were trained for the roles we had them do, they’d be equal to any other employee in speed or accuracy.”

The job fair is open to employers that have full- or part-time employment opportunities at any level. The event is sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, the Carroll Center for the Blind, National Braille Press,  Perkins School for the Blind, and Spaulding Rehabilitation. The event host, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, was previously Radcliffe College. Helen Keller was one of its most acclaimed graduates. 

For more information, visit www.carroll.org.

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