Older Worker Resources on VisionAware (Audio Presentation)


Pris Rogers: Good afternoon, everyone! I’m Pris Rogers and I am the Program Manager for the VisionAware Program for the American Foundation for the Blind and I’m speaking this afternoon because we’re very proud to say that VisionAware has just updated the resources that we have on our website about working as a senior with vision loss. And if you want to find that information on VisionAware, you can go to www.visionaware.org/olderworkers. And that will take you directly to the information that we put up here for working as a senior with vision loss. You’ve already heard what Neva had to say about some of the aspects of looking for a job and so forth. And we’ve tried to cover a good amount of this information on the site.

Review of VisionAware Continuing to Work as A Senior with Vision Loss” Section

So the next section we have is “Things to Know to Keep or Find a Job.” And in this section we talk about “Empowerment from Knowledge, Tools, and Resources” including “Knowing about the Tools to Find Employment” and “Working with Your local VRA Agency,” (Vocational Rehabilitation Agency), which Neva has addressed. Then what more you can do such as learning skills, updating and refreshing your resume, which, as Neva has said, is on APH CareerConnect. we have information about how to do that and filling out an online application. We also have some information in the VisionAware section on filling out an online application, creating a personal data sheet, and then thinking outside the box. Read about older workers that have found cool or unusual jobs or who created their own jobs, entrepreneurs. We also have a “CareerConnect Our Stories,” where you can read about what other people are doing, and use the Jobseeker’s Toolkit course that we have in CareerConnect as Neva has already discussed. So there are several other resources for you there.

Then “Reasons to Keep Working.” To recap, additional income, the chance to be around other people, opportunity to learn new skills, health insurance and other benefits, feeling part of something again and wanting to be productive.

So you may say Ok, I want to do all of those things but what do I have to offer an employer? A proven work history and strong work ethic, a lifelong time of work related skills, job-related education and training, the capacity to learn. And guess what guys, there’s no earning limitations after the age of 65 or once you reach your age, whatever that full employment time is for you. For baby boomers who were born in 1949 or earlier, right now, it’s at age 66. Typically, no dependent children at home that require care and the interesting concern to safety issues. So there are lots of things that you have to offer an employer and lots of reasons that you could go back to work and earn what you want to earn. Another section that we have in “Continuing to Work as a Senior” is “Keeping Your Job.”

As we all know, it’s much easier to keep the job than to have to go out and find another one. So in this section, we have information on explaining your vision loss because as you heard in the survey, the employer may not really understand your vision loss. And you need to be able to understand it to explain it to them. So we have some information in this section about explaining your vision loss so that other people, not only your employer but also your co-workers. They need to understand it as well. Also check out the section on employers and older workers.

And we have quite a bit of information in this section about where you can get transportation, learning orientation mobility skills so that you will have the techniques you need to get around safely in your environment wherever that may be, be able to take the bus or navigate public transportation.

Another part of this section is called “Navigating the Workplace.” And again this goes into getting around in your work environment and so forth and how that can really help you and the procession of people in that workplace about you and your ability to work.

Unfortunately, another piece that we have to deal with – and this again came out in the survey – is dealing with ageism. You know, sometimes people look at gray hair and blue hair or whatever color hair you have and they say ‘oh, that person can’t do that job.’ And we know you can so it’s something that older people do have to deal with in all walks of life anyway. But this particular article gives you some ideas about thinking about that and what kinds of things you can use to help people understand just how good a worker you are.

We also have a section on “Exploring Opportunities for Work.” And a little while ago I was talking about how you may want to think about being an entrepreneur and we actually even have a survey online called Entrepreneur Survey: Is it for you?

There are different questions that you could answer and feel out for yourself whether entrepreneurship is an option for you. And it may as well be, if you have some job skills or if you have a hobby that you love doing, we do actually have a section on hobby jobs, and it has a really cool article in the hobby jobs section about a man who had turned his hobby of cooking into being a catering and cooking. And he is doing really well. He’s in south Florida making a really good career for himself. So you may want to read about that. And he certainly had a totally different job before he lost his vision. So think about that hobby and how you can turn that into a money-maker for yourself.

Also we have a section on the good of volunteering. And again, this is another way that you can look at, go into a volunteer job and then eventually maybe turn that into a real job. And again we have a couple of examples on VisionAware that you can read about of people who have done that. And mentoring is another option as well. Whether you mentor for work or mentor as a part of enjoying working with younger people or other people who are looking for jobs, giving back the value of mentoring. We have another piece on that on VisionAware. And then of course, we have the Randolph Sheppard program which is through your Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Through this program, you might be able to take over running a vending location in all kinds of facilities in the country, mostly federal installations. But they can be snack bars, cafeterias, vending machines en route. There are lots of opportunities to do that. And a lot of situations and the money in doing that kind of work is excellent. So you would want to talk to your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor about that option for going back to work.

Ok, then what do I need to know about today’s job search? As I mentioned earlier, the online application is a really big deal. This day and time, you really have to know how to do an online application and we have in this section a lot of information on how to apply, tips to help you apply, how to set up keywords that you need to use in the application, even what you need to do next. You know you are one of the many applying for a job online so what can you do to make yourself stand out and for example, here’s a question: ‘How can you make sure that your application rises to the top of the list? Answer: All online applications go to a database of applicants and are sorted by relevance. It is only the ones that use the right keywords that correspond with and match the job description that go to the top of the list. Therefore, you must read the job description carefully and make sure your education, experience, training and skills match the description of the job you are applying for.’ So that’s really critical to know. And another good idea is in networking. It’s really important that you learn networking skills. And this particular set of tips will help you learn all about what you might be able to do to rise to the top in today’s job search. We also have a section on the new resume and how to fill in the resume appropriately and to make sure you get to the top. And then job search resources. There’s also a whole section on job search resources such as job sites to go to to look for work if you are older, how to find helping services. And then some of the laws and regulations that relate to working. And there are also some links to consumer membership organizations. So in a nutshell, that’s the type of information that you will now find on working as a senior with vision loss. We also have within the working life section of VisionAware (visionaware.org/workinglife), information on talking to your employer, finding out about your rights, what some training resources are, and workplace technology- what types of technology would you need to know and how can you find out about that. We hope that you will use these resources.

Again, if you want to use these resources go to www.visionaware.org/olderworkers and you will find all this great information that I have just reviewed. In addition to workplace information on VisionAware, we have information on everyday living (visionaware.org/everydayliving) so if you are going to be going to work and you don’t know how to coordinate your outfit, your clothing, you might want to check out that section of VisionAware. We also have information on helpful products and technology (visionaware.org/helpfulproducts) in that section and also talking earlier about talking about your vision loss, we have a whole section about your eye condition. So I encourage you to use VisionAware. It has all kinds of information to help you for living with vision loss as well as in looking for a job. Thank you for listening today and we hope you visit VisionAware.