Step-by-step guide to getting a great job if you're visually impaired

Are you living with a visual impairment and looking for work?

Getting the right job can improve your confidence, give you a sense of fulfilment and help you feel connected.

However, inaccessible workplaces and employer attitudes can make the job search challenging. It is natural to feel discouraged if you have encountered difficulties looking for work.

At APM, we help people like you find meaningful job opportunities. We also offer ongoing support when you start working so that you can thrive in your role.

A wide range of conditions come under the term 'visually impaired' including legal blindness, low vision, total blindness, colour blindness and night blindness.

Depending on the type and severity of a person’s condition, they may experience different challenges with finding and keeping a job. Many workplaces have not considered accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision, the adjustments are often simple.

In this guide, we explain how to start looking for work, including how to apply for a job and manage in an interview. We discuss the question “what jobs can blind people do?” and look at ways to overcome challenges you might face in the workplace including where to find help if you need it.

What jobs can blind people do? Job ideas for people with a visual impairment

People who are blind or visually impaired can work in a wide range of jobs and careers, just like the rest of the population. When looking for a suitable job, it’s important to consider your skills, interests and abilities.

In Australia, people with visual impairments work in a wide range of industries including:

  • Teaching
  • Computing (for example, user experience testing for websites)
  • Copywriting/editing
  • Counselling
  • Hospitality
  • Telemarketing
  • Information technology
  • Customer service

Speaking with an Employment Consultant at APM can help you gain clarity around which types of jobs are right for you.

Assistive technologies and workplace adjustments can make many job roles more accessible for people with visual impairments. For example, screen-reader software converts text on a screen into speech.

Screen magnification systems can help people with low vision be able to see text or images on a screen. Portable magnifiers can be used for reading physical documents.

For people who read and write in braille, technology such as braille computer displays, braille notetakers and braille printers can all assist with job tasks.

How to start looking for work

You can search for work opportunities in a range of places including online job boards, newspapers and company websites. You can also tell people that you are looking for a job. You might be surprised what opportunities arise.

The job search process can take a long time and it is natural to feel disheartened along the way. It’s a good idea to create a daily routine to help you with the job search.

For example, set a goal of applying for a certain number of jobs a day. Keep a record of the jobs you have applied for, when you sent in applications and when you followed up. Staying organised can help you feel more in control as you search for work.

If you need help finding suitable work opportunities, APM can help. We have a large network and strong relationships with employers across a wide range of industries.

Our Employment Consultants can help you open the door to job opportunities that are right for you.

Writing resumes, cover letter and job applications

When you apply for a job, there are a number of documents you will need to submit to the employer. These include a resume (sometimes called a curriculum vitae, or ‘CV’), a cover letter and a job application. These documents are usually the first encounter an employee has with you, so it’s important to make a good impression.

Cover letter

Your cover letter is usually the first thing an employer will read. It is an introduction to your resume and should be written for the specific job you are applying for. You should include a few paragraphs about who you are, why you are applying for the job and why you are an excellent candidate for the role.

Resume/curriculum vitae (CV)

Your resume should outline the skills, education, experience and qualities that make you a great candidate for the role. You should also include personal contact information and a list of references in your resume.

To stand out, make sure you create a new resume for every job you apply for. Even though much of the information will be the same, you should tailor your resume to what the employer is looking for.

A good tip is to look at the job description for keywords and use these keywords and other synonyms in your resume.

Job application

Sometimes employers will ask you to fill out a job application or a questionnaire as well as submitting your resume and cover letter. Questions might be related to your experience, your character or your motivations.

Take time to answer these accurately but succinctly. Always ensure your answers are tailored to the job role you are applying for.

For more information, read APM’s guide to writing a persuasive resume and cover letter.

Interview tips for people who are visually impaired

Before the interview

In the days leading up to the interview, it’s important to take time to prepare. Make sure you understand what the job role involves and what will be expected of you.

Research the company you are applying for to understand who they are, what they do and what their values are.

You should also research common interview questions and practice answering these as if you were in the interview. Brainstorm the strengths you will bring to the role and think of some real life examples of when you demonstrated these in the past.

Don’t forget the more practical side of preparation too. This includes picking out a neat and formal outfit.

The day before the interview you should look up where you need to go and figure out the best route, taking traffic into account. Make sure you arrive 5 or 10 minutes early.

During the interview

It is natural to feel nervous before a job interview. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe deeply and gather your thoughts. Answer the questions succinctly and try not to go off topic. Ask the interviewer if you answered their question or if they would like more information.

Keep in mind that most employers won’t know what jobs people who are blind can do or how people with visual impairments carry out job tasks. Be prepared to demonstrate how you can perform all the tasks that are necessary for the job role you are applying for.

If you use assistive technology, such as a text to speech app on your phone, you may want to demonstrate how it works for the employer.

At the end of the interview, don’t forget to thank the interviewer for their time. You may also want to send a thank you email to them later in the day. Showing your enthusiasm for the job can help make a good impression.

For more advice about interviewing successfully, read APM’s job interview tips.

Managing in the workplace when you are blind or visually impaired

Modifications and adjustments can be made in the workplace to help you do your job well.

These may be simple changes to the workplace environment such as adjusting the lighting or adding a contrasting marker to the edge of steps. Employers may allow you to have a more flexible schedule, for example taking regular breaks to rest your eyes.

Your employer may be eligible for financial assistance from the Government for workplace modifications that support you to do your job.

Depending on what your needs are, this could include technology like text to speech software, large button phones, modified computer screens and braille equipment. Workplaces may also be able to provide appropriate facilities if you use a guide dog.

If you are finding it hard to cope in your current role, help is available.

At APM, we provide support services for people with visual impairments so that they can feel confident and thrive in the workplace.

We can help with assessing your workplace and accessing funding for workplace modifications. If you have just transitioned into a new role, we offer post job placement support to ensure you can stay in work long term.

This may include training of job tasks and coaching through challenges in the workplace. We also provide mental health support and can assist with transport costs to and from work.

For more information about how APM can support you to stay in your job, get in touch today.

Need help finding a job or managing in the workplace? APM is here for you.

If you’ve encountered some hurdles on your way to employment, it’s natural to feel discouraged. At APM, we believe everyone deserves to experience the life changing benefits of having a fulfilling job. We help people like you find meaningful work and feel confident in the workplace.

Did you know you could be eligible for Disability Employment Services? As Australia’s largest provider of this government funded program, we are ready to help you find fulfilment in the workplace.

Register today to get started.