Most people who know me or have heard about me know that I am blind. I share my personal story often. I was born with ordinary vision but began to experience significant vision loss from macular degeneration when I was about nine. I received instructions in Braille and orientation and mobility from the Indiana state agency for the blind during my last two years of high school. Though my vision deteriorated, I went on to receive degrees from Purdue University and the Harvard Business School.
That is why I fully believe in the capabilities and potential of people who are blind. According to recent data, 70 percent of people who are of working age and legally blind are unemployed, and those with jobs often work in computer science or education, or in service jobs in the federal sphere. There should be no boundaries for people who are blind. With the appropriate resources, we can obtain and maintain economic and personal independence, and a life of our choosing.
That is why I want to tell you about Nicole Hansen. Eleven years ago, Nicole was diagnosed with ocular histoplasmosis and became blind in one eye, and, like me, she developed macular degeneration. Unfortunately, it was her other eye -- the eye that still had sight. Nicole was directed to the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired through her retinal doctor. In order to re-enter the workforce, Nicole had to learn how to use ZoomText magnification software -- a system that reads electronic documents through your computer's speakers. She also enrolled in a computer training program and a job development program, which covered all the basics of her job search, including reviewing her résumé, and searching and interviewing for jobs. In addition, she attended support groups with others who didn't have a job or had disabilities; the groups were helpful in giving her the emotional support she needed.
The organization that provided her with such training programs was Goodwill® Columbus (OH). With the skills she developed at Goodwill, Nicole was able to obtain a job at doshealth, a medical billing service. Nicole has learned through her work with Goodwill that, even with a disability, she could do whatever job she set her mind to.
People who are blind must have visions of greatness. Few opportunities exist for people who are blind to become leaders in business. In order to achieve such positions, educators must encourage people who are blind to take jobs in the corporate world, and employers need to open their minds to the capabilities of those who are blind, so that more people like Nicole can become employed and contribute to their communities.
Hear more stories from people like Nicole.