Where the Blind Work
Vocational Jobs

Floater Worker

Scott Davis

What do you do on your job?

The type of work I do consists of many different jobs. Some of the jobs include: for our Goodwill Stores I will hang clothes and help with doing inventory, I will prepare food in the kitchen for the catering business ABVI has, I will go into the community to sell catering contracts to day care and senior centers, and I will also sometimes work as a sales person at our candy stand. For our Kodak project, I will wash and dry tubes (used for the machines at Kodak). Also, as recycling, I will strip film and reclaim metal. For our Xerox project, I will recycle circuit boards from copy machines. For our government project, I will help package CDs.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

As for my blindness, I was born with congenital cataracts and a rare condition where I have no irises in my eyes and the retinas were not attached correctly. I am now totally blind.

For the adaptive measures I use: I use a white cane and sometimes sighted guide to get around. When I work the candy stand, I use a talking cash register. For sorting clothes, I use several common sense methods like clothes pins to help me keep track of sections of types of clothing.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

In terms of education, to qualify to do this job, it does not require a high school diploma, though it would be good. It would require a college degree and experience to become a staff person or a manager. With the amount of hands-on tasks involved in this job, tactile skills need to be good. With the amount of moving about that is required, good travel skills are necessary. Also, for going out in the community you need to have good cane skills and social and verbal skills too.

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

Through the Learning Disability Association, I belong to a peer support group called "Friends Helping Friends." I am also involved in the Rochester Men for Life, where I have a mentor and which is a pro-life support group. In addition, I belong to the Rochester Pro-Life League where I am first Vice President.

The groups have helped me as they advise on how to better myself through discussions.

Magician

Chad Allen

What do you do on your job?

First and foremost, as a magician, I entertain. The venues that I may perform in include parties, special events, nightclubs, schools, and more.

It starts with a creative process: dreaming, researching, and creating. This in turn means the show has to be tailored to the audience that you are to entertain and the length of time the job is for will help guide you to your ultimate goal (an hour show for seven-year-olds is different than providing a ten-minute show for the management staff of a company).

I am also a business owner; my magic studio is called Chad Allen Magic.  This in and of itself has its own array of duties.  There is the accounting, the marketing or the business strategy, ordering of those items I will sell, the scheduling of the classes I will teach, the cleanup of the store, and much more.

As an extension of my business, I have a Web site that I manage: www.chadallenmagic.com.

Being self-employed, another very large element in this career, is promoting yourself.  You must continuously be seeking out new jobs. To do so, you make a lot of phone calls, network, negotiate for what you are going to get paid, and much more.

I also teach, providing magic lessons.  I have to come up with the curriculum and materials, starting with the initial promotion for attracting students.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

I have RP.

The adaptations I must use as a blind artist vary.  On stage, as a blind person who is performing for a visual crowd, I must watch my angles of sight and be very aware of my positioning in relation to myself and the audience so that I do not, as they say in the business, 'give up the gaff.'   And of course I use a white cane on stage.

In teaching, to make sure my student is performing the right moves, I first describe, then give examples and demonstrate, and lastly I touch their hands.

For computer work, I use a screen reader: JAWS.  To label my files, I use Braille.  For print that comes in I'll scan it with my KNFB Reader.  To help with identifying and tracking inventory I use a talking barcode reader, the ID Mate.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

There are several paths for how people enter this profession. There are those who are self-taught.  There is apprenticeship, which involves working as an assistant under a professional and learning while assisting.  There are also workshops and schools to learn your craft. Additionally, prior experience in some performing art can aid you; I was a child performer, in the form of a competitive tap dancer. My introduction to magic came from a job I took in a store where they had a small magic section.  I learned some of the tricks in order to be a better salesman, also thinking it would give me insurance on keeping the job.  I have read many books on magic and I have attended a wonderful training program called The Shavas School of Magic.  I am also a member of the Magic Cassel, an exclusive club for magic and a great place to network. 

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

I think one of the more important things for success is passion for your career.  I also believe that having a network of friends and supports that are there for you during both the times when you may be struggling as well as when you triumph is important.  Another element is that when you are self-employed, you have to have a strong work ethic and one way that plays out is you must get up each day and commit yourself to your craft.

Also in order to succeed, you have to network. Opportunities usually do not come your way by themselves; rather you have to seek them out.  So you need to be motivated.  You have to be committed.

My blindness came on slowly. I became involved in the NFB when I was 28 years old. I went to the Colorado Center for the Blind.  That experience was a cure-all for me.  Once I was around successful blind persons, learned the skills of blindness, and understood that it was respectful to be blind, my life changed. It empowered me to go and be whatever I wanted to be in life.

Production Worker and Truck Unloader

Patrick Wheatley

What do you do on your job?

At Bosma Enterprises, I am responsible for unloading trucks and stacking distribution products on skids for the purpose of re-packaging. I will also cut and open new shipments of the raw products to be placed on lines. My duties also require me to enter products being distributed into our computer system. Finally, I am responsible for emptying cardboard and trash containers in selected areas.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

I have retinitis pigmentosa, but I still perform visually in well-lit areas.

I utilize ZoomText on my work computer, and I have a CCTV at home. I own a cane but do not need it to maneuver within my workplace.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

Prior work experience within the field of warehouse/distribution or production work is beneficial. Solid manual labor skills are a must. You have to be able to lift at least 40 pounds. Basic computer skills are necessary for simple data entry. Also, the ability to work alongside of others with a positive attitude is important.

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

I received assistance from a Community Connection Placement Program to apply for my current position. I also participated in a Leaders at all Levels training program provided by National Industries for the Blind.

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