Employment and visual impairment

Issues in adulthood

Authored by: Natalie Martiniello , Walter Wittich

The Routledge Handbook of Visual Impairment

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138085411
eBook ISBN: 9781315111353
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite advancements in civil rights and vocational rehabilitation programming throughout the latter part of the twentieth century, the employment rates for people with visual impairments in developed countries continues to hover between 25% and 40%, with 70% of adults with visual impairments either unemployed or underemployed, working in positions that do not reflect their qualifications. This chapter synthesises research from recent decades on the variables that either facilitate or impede the labour force participation of adults who are blind or who have low vision. Among these factors, education, prior experience, personal attributes, workplace culture and employer attitudes have been shown to be important predictors of employment for people with visual impairments. This chapter places this discussion in its historical and sociocultural context to illustrate how and why employment opportunities for people with visual impairments have changed over time, what factors have influenced these trends and how the current state of employment differs among countries today. Employment is discussed from an adult and life-stage perspective to highlight differences that exist among adults with congenital and adventitious vision loss who seek employment, and the unique challenges that exist when returning to work or transitioning to new career paths later in life. The chapter concludes by highlighting directions for future research, advocacy and clinical practice in this area.

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