A few weeks ago, I decided to take some time to go out there and listen to the views from blind people of different generations.
Specifically, what are their views on the issues of such subjects as employment, education, and accessibility. In order to simplify things, I am going to refer to the generations as follows: 35 and under - generation Y and above 35 - as generation X. I will first state the question that I asked and then give the consensus answer.
I will hasten to add that my mission was not meant to be a formal survey in any way shape or form but rather as a fact finding mission for my own education. I managed to gather a total of 15 responses from each generation and I would like to thank those of you who took the time to respond. So without much more ado here goes.
On the subject of employment
Question: Do you think that employment opportunities for your generation are better than they were about five years ago?
Consensus from generation X: Not really. Employment opportunities for this generation have always been extremely difficult to come by and they do not see much of a change for the foreseeable future.
Consensus from Generation Y: Employment opportunities have improved somewhat in certain areas thanks to better technology for the blind. However, there are still many barriers for them to face and there is a glimmer of hope for the future.
Question: What kind of barriers do you presently face in the workplace?
Consensus from generation X: There are many barriers that include attitude, ignorance, and adaptive technology is still trying to catch up with mainstream technology. There is also still an unwillingness to give blind persons an equal chance to prove themselves.
Consensus from generation Y: Some barriers have started to come down but there is still much more to work on. The gap needs to be narrowed when it comes to employers and employees believing in the abilities of this generation. More needs to be done when it comes to making the workplace a more level playing field for blind people.
Question: Is there anything that can be done to improve employment opportunities for blind people?
Consensus from generation X: Everyone needs to work on such things as attitude and more willingness to change perceptions of what blind persons can do. A greater awareness needs to be worked on.
Consensus from generation Y: Employers and employees need to be given awareness training on how blind persons can fit into the working world. More education is needed and acceptance as well.
On the subject of education
Question: Do you believe that your generation has had equal access to educational facilities and opportunities?
Consensus from generation X: Not really. Blind persons of this generation have had to fight very hard to receive education; especially at post secondary level.
Consensus from generation Y: Opportunities have been improving but more needs to be done in the area of distance learning opportunities for blind persons.
Question: Do you believe that educators have been able to fully comprehend the needs of your generation in the classroom?
Consensus from generation X: No. In so many cases educators have failed this generation simply because of a lack of understanding and a willingness to do so.
Consensus from generation Y: In some cases educators seem to get it but in other cases not really.
Question: Do you believe that educational opportunities for blind persons can be improved and if so how so?
Consensus from generation X: The only way for any sort of improvement is for everyone to come together to discuss what needs to be done and how it can be done. A more serious effort needs to be made.
Consensus from generation Y: Things are getting better for blind persons in the classroom but if improvement is expected to continue then blind persons need to speak up more.
On the subject of accessibility
Question: Do you believe that your generation has been given equal access to important services in your community?
Consensus from generation X: No! In so many cases, this generation seems to be the forgotten ones.
Consensus from generation Y: Things are a bit better than they were a few years ago but there is definitely still not equal access.
Question: Do you believe that equal access is something that could be attained by blind people?
Consensus from generation X: No. For as long as governments continue to ignore the needs of blind people, there will be no equality to accessibility.
Consensus from generation Y: No. Equal access can only be attained if a serious effort is made to make it happen.
So there you have it; views from two different generations.
I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm