Introducing a New Triad Mentoring Model with the Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program

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Introducing a New Triad Mentoring Model with the Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program

The National Federation of the Blind is an organization of blind people sharing our lived experiences and pioneering strategies with one another in an effort to live the lives we want. Every day, through a variety of acts and deeds, formally and informally, successful blind adults mentor blind young adults so that they can acquire knowledge and skills to accomplish their life’s ambitions.

In 2017, NFB President Mark Riccobono, during a meeting with Bjarne Tellmann, then chief legal officer for Pearson, described our NFB career mentoring program, which uses mentoring pairs between successful blind adults and blind young adults to provide blind young adults with knowledge, skills, and experiences to attain the careers of their choice. Mr. Tellmann explained Pearson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, which is focused on eliminating barriers and increasing opportunities for all, which includes people with disabilities. As a result of the discussion, a collaboration between NFB and Pearson emerged.

The Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program expands our career mentoring program through the development of mentoring triads consisting of blind young adults, blind professionals from the NFB, and sighted professionals from Pearson. This three-sided approach has a positive, exponential impact on all participants through the relationships that are created.

NFB Blind Professional (Mentor) to Blind Young Adults (Mentee)

Our lived experience demonstrates that blind adult role models are best able to encourage blind young adults to adopt a positive self-concept about themselves as blind individuals. Successful blind adults demonstrate:

  • Benefits of mastering the alternative skills of blindness
  • Effective methods of coping with negative public attitudes about blindness
  • Strategies for blending in as equals in any environment

All of these life skills are essential to the personal and professional success of any blind person.

The NFB career mentoring program recognizes that there is no substitute for the learning a blind young adult can receive from the lived experiences of a successful blind professional. There are many tools and strategies blind professionals use to be competitive in the workplace. Some are taught by blindness training service programs, but many are innovated by the blind individuals that need solutions to problems that emerge on the job. Through their interactions with blind professionals, mentees observe the problem-solving skills utilized to develop these strategies, and in turn, they are able to use these same skills to develop problem-solving strategies of their own. The mentoring triad helps us adopt a broader intervention to assist in the career development of the blind young adults.

Pearson Sighted Professional (Mentor) to Blind Young Adult (Mentee)

The Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program creates mentoring relationships between sighted Pearson professionals and our blind young adults. This pool of sighted professionals offers our blind young adults greater access to a host of additional beneficial workplace experiences and strategies. Moreover, a key to their success is acquiring the ability to interact effectively with their sighted peers in the workplace. During a six-month-long cohort of mentoring beginning in August 2020, sighted Pearson professionals will provide:

  • Knowledge on workplace culture and expectations
  • Strategies for developing career-specific skills
  • Access to informational interviews
  • Professional advice and guidance

In order to plan for success, the NFB provides sensitivity and awareness training to the Pearson sighted professionals about blindness, and encourages them to set high expectations for the blind young adults participating in the program. By working to dispel the myths and preconceptions that the sighted professionals may have about blindness and blind people, our mentees are able to access professionals engaged in a career of interest and to obtain all of the natural benefits of mentoring from a broader pool of mentors.

NFB Blind Professional (Mentor) to Pearson Sighted Professional (Mentee)

Despite the training we provide to the sighted professional, they may still be uncertain about how to effectively support a blind mentee. Therefore, we add a successful blind professional to the mix that can demonstrate the strategies, techniques, and technologies blind people use to be competitive in the workplace. The blind professional mentor provides the following to the sighted professional:

  • Dispels the myths and preconceptions the sighted professionals may have about blindness and blind people
  • Awareness and resources so that the sighted professional can perpetually educate themselves
  • A sounding board of advice and support

The Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program expands the opportunity for our blind young adults to have more beneficial, diverse career-related experiences by adding a sighted professional mentor to the mix. The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to be collaborating with Pearson’s Corporate Disability Mentoring Program to create the triad mentoring model, which offers the value-added component of the development of a collegial relationship between the blind and sighted professional. Hopefully this will result in a more welcoming work environment for future blind employees and greater employment opportunities for all blind people.

Applications Open Until July 31, 2020

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for the triad mentoring model with the Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program, please complete the mentoring program application by July 31, 2020. Notifications for mentees and the program will be provided in August 2020. The program is scheduled for August 2020 to February 2021. We look forward to the great opportunities and development made from this program.

Learn more and apply for the Pearson Corporate Disability Mentoring Program.

—Anil Lewis