Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Meeting the Challenge of Finding Employment

Maybe you are a high school student who needs a job for the summer. Maybe you are an adult who has just lost your sight. Perhaps you are a blind or visually impaired person who is graduating from college. Regardless of your specific situation, you will most likely need the following things to meet the challenge of finding employment:
This record attempts to provide you with a list of resources that you may access in order to meet the challenge of getting a job. In addition, we have included at the end of this record a list of other useful links.

The Resume

Many people believe that first impressions are extremely important. If you decide to reach out to potential employers by sending out resumes, your resume will give your potential employer the first impression about you. For this reason, you will need a good-looking resume with well-written information about your experience, skills, and education.
If this is your first time writing a resume, you need to know that there are specific guidelines on how to write and format resumes and their accompanying cover letters. The best way to learn all the specifics is from a book that contains examples.
A great resource for finding books in different accessible media is APH's Louis Database found at:
Louis can help you find books that give you advice about resume writing, cover letters, and job searching. These books are available in braille, large print, and tape. Once in Louis, do a key word search using the words: resume writing. Using the Louis database is free of charge.
Other sources of accessible books on this topic are:
Once you have a chance to look at examples of the different kinds of resumes, you can start getting all your information together into a "Personal Data Sheet" or PDS. A PDS should contain all the information you will need to fill out an employment application: your name and your current contact information, including address and phone number; dates and details about your academic and work history; supervisors' names; and your references, including their names and contact information.
The PDS is very important as it will serve two purposes. It will help you or the person who helps you fill out employment applications to have all your information in a central place, and it will be handy when you start putting together your resume.
Once you have gathered all the info you need into a Personal Data Sheet, you can start writing your resume; however, formatting the document may present some problems for people using screen readers or magnification software. But don't worry, we have some options that will help you deal with these issues.
One option is to go to a site called CareerConnect™. This site has excellent resources for job seekers including a sample of a PDS and a resume as well as a way to generate them on-line. Find AFB's CareerConnect at:
There are agencies that specialize in writing a resume for you. You will need to give them your information via e-mail, fax, or over the phone. They can also put together a cover letter. The money you spend by hiring a resume-writing company may be worth it. They are professionals and most of them will deliver an excellent quality product.
You may find resume-writing services by looking them up in the Yellow Pages®, through directory assistance, or over the Internet.
The following are two methods to access information in the phone directory:
  1. Internet. To access your local phone book over the Internet you can go to the Yellow Pages site. Their info is displayed in a speech-friendly format. You can find them at:

    Another speech-friendly Yellow Pages search can be found at:

    Both of these services are very friendly and let you narrow down the search to find out businesses that are closest to your area. They also give the user the ability to search for popular categories.

  2. A second choice to access the phone directory is to simply call your local phone service provider for directory assistance. If you are currently being charged for this service, you may want to request information on how to get directory assistance at no cost because you are blind or visually impaired.
Emurse: the Online Resume Maker
Looking for a job? Need reliable service to create and manage your resumes? Enter Emurse, online resume maker with a handful of useful features. These include quick resume generator, activity tracking, resume templates, multi-format download, and more. Additional features include:
  • Create, Manage and Store your resumes online.
  • Apply changes, choose between different templates and preview resume in real-time.
  • Distribute your resumes in multiple formats (PDF, DOC, RTF, ODT, HTML, and TXT). Download resume in any of the provided formats.
  • Want to keep resumes private? Emurse provides an option to password protect any of your resumes.
  • Keep track of where you have sent resumes and whether recipients received them.
  • Leave yourself notes and even set up reminder e-mails to help you follow up.
  • Detailed statistics: Stay up to date on who, how and when viewed your resume.
  • Free account: 1. create and store up to two resumes, 2. choose between two professional templates, and 3. publish one resume on your own Emurse page (
Click this link to visit
Here's a free online service that helps you write a resume. Lots of tips too. Help on finding a job and how to construct the best resume. Click this link to visit

Finding Potential Employers

There are thousands of job openings out there, and at least one of those jobs is the perfect one for you! But how do you go about finding these job openings or potential employers? The following is a list of resources for commonly used methods:

1. Searching job banks on the Internet, or over the phone

There are several Web pages that have comprehensive lists of links to job related sites.
The Career Resource Library has a page that links you to more than 50 job related sites including job banks, MetaGuides, and job clearinghouses. These sites provide job opportunities in multiple fields, industries, and occupations. A number of these sites provide resume services and job search news. Some of these sites include: America's Job Bank, Monster®, The American Council of the Blind, JobBank USA®, ®, and more.
For a list of links to these sites go to:
The Career Resource Library also has a page dedicated to links that you can use to find job announcements which are located in or focus on countries and regions beyond the United States. Some sites include: InterCareers Net Japan, (SM), Eurojobs, American Citizens Abroad, and more.
To go directly to the international jobs go to:< /p> On, job seekers can post their resumes and search the database for available positions. Employers are able to post jobs and search resumes, recruiting qualified candidates who are the best fit for their organization. would be an excellent tool to use to help add disabled candidates to your hiring initiatives. Nearly 20% of all Americans have some type of disability, and the majority of people with disabilities are able and employable with minimal accommodations required by the employer. The objective with is to give hope and opportunity to those who are able and want to work, and empower employers with a dedicated web site that links them to qualified, disabled job applicants. was launched in November 2007 by Matt Lawrence and NetworkIP in Longview, TX. Matt has Dystonia, a progressive neurological disorder that affects his speech and fine motor skills. Following graduation from college, Matt brought the idea that now is to NetworkIP. NetworkIP agreed there is a need for a service like JobEnable and have supported the idea from its conception to the present day. Click this link to visit is a great resource for anyone who is wanting to find employment opportunities in the federal government. They have a very cool resource directory. is an online career center and social networking community for people with disabilities. It is the only fully accessible online job portal and social network of its kind to operate under an employer subscription model. This ensures that every employment opportunity listed by employers is specifically targeting candidates with disabilities. The site features free career-building tools, including a cover letter and resume builder, video interview training, a comprehensive peer mentoring program, and career compatibility assessment and reporting. Connect with peer mentors who also have disabilities to discuss an array of relevant topics, including employment experience and career concerns. There is a product and service provider network, which is the only national registry of its kind, to help candidates with a wide range of needs. For more information, call 866-352-7481 or click this link to visit For those of you looking for federal jobs, there are some sites that specialize in government positions.
FedWorld : This database allows you to search abstracts of open U.S. Federal Government Jobs. Their database is updated almost every day. Check out FedWorld at:
Another great site for federal jobs is Federal Job Search. Federal Job Search captures your custom job search profile online and matches it daily against a database of approximately 46,000 U.S. federal government job openings across the U.S. and around the world. Federal Job Search uses an automated email delivery system. After they run a search for you, they immediately notify you via email when a position matches your search.
Look for Federal Job Search at
Another Web page that is worth checking is the page of "Useful Links" for AFB's CareerConnect™. This page includes links to disability related job sites such as the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, Able to Work, and RecruitABILITY.
If you are looking for a job in a call center/customer service environment, you will want to look at If you happen to speak another language, click this link to visit disABLEDperson Inc. is one of many Christian charities whose mission is unique and that is to help reduce the near 70% unemployment rate amongst disabled Americans. They accomplish this through their online recruitment application, "RecruitABILITY.". For more information check them out at

Job Hunting Websites

For those individuals who don't have access to a computer, there is a telephone method for searching for jobs. This resource is called Jobline®. It is an audio version of America's Job Bank, one of the largest job banks in the U.S. It is a free public service provided by state agencies with assistance from the National Federation of the Blind and the United States Department of Labor.
Jobline helps you find openings and apply for jobs which match your qualifications and are located in your area or any other area of the country. The job announcements are presented along with application information for any job of interest.
When you access Jobline over the phone, you will be asked to create a profile, which in turn, may be used to create a resume. Through Jobline you can create, store, and send resumes to employers.
To access Jobline, call 1-800-414-5748 or visit the NFB's Web site at: for more information.

2. Looking over the classified ads in the newspaper

Since the newspaper is the leading provider of local news and information in many communities, another commonly used method to find jobs is to search the job classified ad sections in local newspapers. Here are some resources that will allow you to access this info.
Home Town News:
This is a site that provides direct links to the Web site of more than 2,400 daily and weekly U.S. newspapers. You may either Select a State from a combo box or click on a state on a map for a list of links to online newspapers in that state.
Another similar source is the listing of United States newspapers at:
This is a directory of links to newspapers in the United States organized by state.
If you are looking for international jobs you may want to visit Online Newspapers. This site lists about 10,000 newspapers from around the world, searchable by country and then by publication.
Visit Online Newspapers at:
If you don't have a computer with Internet access, you can obtain the information from more than 60 newspapers across the country by calling NEWSLINE®, a service provided by the National Federation of the Blind.
The user can easily choose which newspaper, section, and article to read with the use of a standard touch-tone phone. The user can choose to read the current day's paper, the previous day's edition, or the previous Sunday's issue of each newspaper on the service. The menu provided allows the user to change the speed and voice quality, spell out words, or search for words.
For a list of NEWSLINE's newspapers go to:
To become a registered user of NEWSLINE, you can call the National Federation of the Blind at: 410-659-9314 to request a print application. You can also register through the National Library Service for the Blind or on-line at: ewsline1.htm
Once you register you can call 1-888-882-1629 to access NEWSLINE.

3. Finding job leads in professional journals

The Internet contains hundreds of journals on-line. The best way to find journals in your area of interest is to go to any search engine such as or and do a search including the words "on-line journals" and your area of interest such as "health", "computers", "psychology", etc.

4. Contacting federal and state employment services

The Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy has a list of State Liaisons that you may contact when looking for services. One thing that needs to be mentioned is that a State Liaison office may direct you to the Department or Commission for the Blind in your area, and in turn the Department for the Blind may re-direct you. However, don't give up your quest until you find a person who can help you with employment issues.
To go to the directory of State Liaisons click:
Through a federal or state employment agency you may not only find out what jobs are available, but you may be referred to some kind of rehabilitation center, training center or vocational rehab center that may teach you some useful skills such as the use of computers with speech access, or organizational skills.

5. Visiting private and nonprofit disability employment agencies

In almost every state there are private or nonprofit agencies that specialize in employment for people with disabilities. For instance, in Louisville, Kentucky, there is a Center for Accessible Living.™

6. Visiting career centers

Most universities and community colleges have a career center on campus. You may want to go to the career center to check for jobs posted there. Usually these centers have a counselor that can assist you with resume writing, job searching, and other important skills.

7. Visiting employment agencies

These firms or agencies will ask you to fill out an employment application and will call you if they can place you in a job. Frequently, people find good permanent jobs starting out as temps. Temporary jobs allow people to check out the company or organization and make contacts. If you like the company, you may want to see what other positions are available, or you may do such a good job that they will want to keep you. One thing you must keep in mind is that these agencies and search firms may charge you or the employer a fee for their services.
Again, the best way to find these agencies in your area is by looking them up in your local phone book.

8. Volunteer opportunities

Another way to find a job is to volunteer your time. While volunteering, you may connect with potential employers. If a paid position becomes available, you may have an advantage over other applicants for the position.

9. Talking to people you know

You might be surprised how many people have gotten a job by talking to a friend who told another friend, who told their uncle, who told their cousin that they were looking for a job!
Approximately 33% of the people who are looking for a job learn about opportunities through word of mouth. So let your friends, teachers, former teachers, and relatives know that you are searching and let them know your qualifications. They may know someone who has the perfect job for you.

10. Knocking on the door

According to the well-known job search book What Color is Your Parachute, there is nothing wrong with knocking on the door of potential employers even if they don't have known vacancies. The book explains that there is a 69% probability that you will get a job if you do research via the phone book or other method to identify subjects or field of interest in the town or city where you are, and then calling to see if they are hiring.

11. Informational Interviewing

One step further is what the book calls the "Creative Approach." This approach calls for three steps: A. Decide exactly what you have to offer to the world. B. Decide where you want to use your skills. C. Go after the organizations that interest you the most whether or not they are known to have a vacancy. Use your contacts to get an appointment with the person who has the power to hire you for the job you want to do. You can then talk to that person about the goals of the company and your goals in an "informational interview" format.

Applying for a Job

Filling Out Employment Applications

One advantage of using the Internet to find a job is that in many cases you can also apply for the job on-line. This is helpful because most likely you will be able to fill out your employment application independently.
This is the case when you can use JobLine&reg ; at
The system allows you to have your own personalized electronic application or resume prepared and sent to an employer with a job of interest to you. The application/resume is created from your response to a series of questions about your education, training, work experience, and specific job qualifications. Once you have created your application/resume, it will be stored on the system and sent to the fax number or e-mail address of an employer you select. You can also create a new application/resume or review and revise an existing one at any time.
If you are not using the Internet or JobLine to complete an application, you will probably need to hire a person who can assist you or ask a friend to help you out. In any case, your Personal Data Sheet will now come in handy. When you go to a company to fill out an application, remember to have available a print copy of your PDS. In this way, the person assisting you may copy the information required.

Keeping Track of Appointments and Contacts

Once you find jobs that interest you and start applying for them, you will need a way to manage all your information. You will want to keep track of interview dates and times, names, phone numbers, addresses of companies and contacts, follow up calls, and any other useful information you may need in the future.
If you are a computer user, here are some ways to help you manage your information.
BlindSoftware ( sells a product called Day by Day Professional. This piece of software is a complete personal organizer with an accessible calendar where you may save notes, and set pop-up appointment reminders. It also contains a built-in address book.
AFB's CareerConnect™ provides its users with an electronic on-line calendar to keep track of important information.
If you are not a computer user, or if you choose to use an additional and more portable tool, investing in a digital recorder may be a great idea. In the last few years, digital recorders have decreased in price and size, and increased in the amount of messages they can hold. You can find digital recorders with a variety of features that may help you manage your information, such as recorders with different folders and appointment reminders.
You can find digital recorders in most stores that sell electronics.


Yay! If you are looking into transportation options, you probably have an interview or two already lined up. Congratulations! Below are some tips on how to find transportation to and from your interview as well as a great tip for getting to your destination on time.
If you do not already use public transportation or paratransit, you may know it's out there, but how do you go about using it? The easiest thing is to contact your local Department or Commission for the Blind and ask them for information. They are your best source because they know your area and the options available to you. It's very likely that they use these same services themselves.
To find your local agency you can consult the phone directory, or you can call your local transit authority. They will know what services they offer and can give you all of the information you need such as: operating times, reservation requirements, and the cost of the service. Many of these agencies have Web sites, but be forewarned: it is possible that their site won't be completely accessible.
If your local transit authority's site is not accessible, here is another option. The Project ACTION Accessible Traveler's Database was created to provide information on accessible transportation services in the U.S. It is a very useful source if you are traveling and need information about a new area or a new city. This database includes detailed information about public operators (both urban and rural), accessible taxis, airport transportation, and hotel shuttle services. They also maintain a list of the toll-free numbers for national companies such as airlines, bus companies, Amtrak®, and major hotel chains.
You can find the Project ACTION site at:
A public transportation option that often takes less planning but more cash is taking a cab to your destination; however, taking a cab can get expensive, especially if some of your interviews are far away from your home. Also keep in mind that you may have multiple interviews before being hired. Each trip will be an additional expense.
Hiring a driver is another option in case you should decide public transportation is not the best way to get to your interview. The following are some points that you may want to keep in mind if you decide to give this option a try.
  1. Interview drivers thoroughly before you hire them. Make sure they are reasonably familiar with the routes you'll be traveling and with your town in general. This obviously requires you as the blind traveler to have a good knowledge of routes.
  2. Pay attention to the driving behavior of your drivers. Lots of horn blowing or sharp turns may indicate you should hunt for another driver.
  3. Try recruiting among college students. They often have time, cars, and a great need for pocket money. They also like a challenge!
  4. You may be able to obtain volunteer drivers via AmeriCorps or church and civic groups.
  5. The driver's pay can vary by location. Expect to pay anywhere from $6 to $10 per hour. If you pay at the higher end of this range, you may expect the driver to provide the gas (except on very long trips). If you include the cost of gas in the driver's hourly rate of pay, this can simplify the bookkeeping end of the process. Tips are appropriate for good or extra service. A few dollars is a small price to pay for keeping a good driver happy.
  6. If feasible, you may want to ask local law enforcement personnel about the driving record of anyone who you are considering for hire. At a minimum, be sure to obtain the social security number, driver's license number, and full name and address of any one who drives for you.
  7. Drivers hired for infrequent and personal use are usually hired informally, and written contracts or agreements usually are not required. Since liability is usually not a topic mentioned by prospective drivers, you should request a copy of their driver's license and proof of insurance card.
  8. Make your expectations clear. For example: don't make a habit of allowing a driver to run his or her errands on your personal time; don't make a habit of buying your driver meals or snacks; and make it clear to your driver whether you expect driving only or driving plus assistance (such as shopping assistance). Pay drivers from the time they leave their house to the time they arrive back home. Give drivers adequate lead-time to schedule trips, and then stick to the schedules and routes you've stated. Remember that drivers have other commitments too.
  9. You may have to teach drivers basic sighted-guide techniques. If drivers drop you off at the curb, you may have to teach them to give you directions for walking away from the car (e.g., "the door to the store is directly to your left" or "take a line of travel off the front of the car on your side"). The position of the sidewalk/door/curb in relation to the car is often the best orientation information available.

Getting to Your Interview on Time

Once you decide the transportation method you want to use, you may want to test its efficiency. Prior to the day of an interview, you may want to go out and see how long it will take you to get to your destination. Leave around the same time that you think you will have to leave the day of the interview to see what traffic is like. Take the exact route as the one that you will be taking the day of your interview. You may even want to time the trip. This will help you plan your day accordingly, so you know how much time to give yourself for traveling. The day of the actual interview, leave the house with enough time so that you will be a few minutes early. It is much more appropriate to be early than right on time, or worse, being late. Arriving late for an interview, in the view of many employers, shows a lack of interest in the position and that the candidate is unreliable and irresponsible. This may blow your chances of getting the job.

Interviewing Tips

Once you pass the initial screenings of cover letters, applications, and resumes, the employer has an initial idea of what you can offer to the company. At this point he or she decides to invite you for an interview. Your potential employer wants to take a more detailed look at the person the company is thinking of employing. The interviewer wants to feel out how you might fit with the company and the position. Are you a team worker? Can you solve problems? Are you in it for the long haul? Whether these questions are asked directly or not, the interviewer will have to decide in a short period of time if you are the right person for the job. Since interviewing is a crucial factor in getting a job, you need to be prepared to give the interviewer the answers they want to hear, and prepared to give them a good impression about yourself.
Interviewing is a learned skill. The more you practice, the better you become. The following Web site offers mock job interviews based on actual job openings. Each mock interview includes the job description, a practice question set, answer tips, and interview resources. Also available are more interview questions, more interview help for specific jobs, and interview guides by job and company. Check them out at:
Certainly dress and appearance are things that candidates should not take for granted. According to some experts, employers begin to form opinions about the job candidate nine seconds into the interview. Sloppy, inappropriate dress can kill the chances of even the most successful candidate.
A Web site that has many links to brief articles related to employment is: "Careers: How-to's - articles, hints, tips". Here you will find topics such as: conducting a successful job interview; tips for successfully managing luncheon interviews; job interview preparation: what to wear, job interview tips, and how to write a successful resume. Check them out at:

Useful Links is a useful website that brings job applications from around the country into one website. You can download these apps from this website instead of searching all over the web for them. On this site, you can also research salary information, job postings, company profiles, and jobs by industry. Note: The applications themselves have to be printed out - they're not very accessible but the rest of the site is accessible.
Here is a Web site that many people have found very useful, called eSight™ Careers Network. Their slogan reads: "A Bridge Connecting Business Leaders to Talent in the Disability Community." Among other things, this site has information on job openings, as well as skill building and networking opportunities.
Some articles in the eSights Careers Network include: How to Use Key Success Factors to Build Your Resume, First Steps in Career Management, What Employers Really Want to Know about Your Disability, Success Stories about Entrepreneurs with Visual Impairments, and much more.
To go to this site go to: The CareerBuilder WorkLife Job Blog has "news, Advice and Job Information from the experts at" Of interest to anyone who's even thinking about looking for a new job.

Hire Disability Solutions

Meet your career goals and increase your independence by accessing the largest national Career Network specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. Hire Disability Solutions brings together top companies and qualified men and women with disabilities. They are committed to serving business needs while simultaneously breaking down barriers. By working with Hire Disability Solutions, businesses can post their job vacancies and tap into a pool of skilled workers, and individuals with a disability can post resumes and access thousands of jobs from companies that are specifically trying to reap the benefits of having a diverse workforce. Hire Disability Solutions was founded in response to the increasing demand for services for individuals with disabilities that promote inclusion into the mainstream employment world. Since its inception in 2004, Hire Disability Solutions has established itself as a national leader in protecting and enhancing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Through its educational campaigns surrounding employment law, education opportunities and assistive technology, the company facilitates the success of individuals with disabilities and employers alike., and Hire Disability Solutions have partnered to bring people with disabilities a co-branded career resource section on the site. This joint initiative makes Monster job search tools, career content and resume posting capabilities more readily available to individuals with disabilities. Click this link to visit the Hire Disability Solutions website at
College Atlas
This website helps students choose colleges and universities. It gives current and accurate information about accreditation, degree programs, campus life, and much more.

We hope this list of resources will keep growing as we learn about more tools that may assist you in the challenging task of getting a job and starting a successful career. If you know of any other resources, please contact us at, we'd love to get your input!

1 comment:

Sai Santosh said...

This is the right platform for those who are wishing to get right information on govt jobs and other career related stuff. Thanks for maintaining well researched site.

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