Career and Vocational Skills

Photo shows two teachers and a student focused on braille materials on the table in front of them.

Image shows a logo of a briefcase.Career education is a highly individualized process that considers the unique knowledge, skills, motivations, strengths, and stretches of the individual learner. The outcomes of career education are just as diverse: full- or part-time work, post-secondary studies, volunteering, day programming - to name a few. Students with visual impairments require systematic, direct instruction in career education and exploration skills beginning in early childhood so they can:

  • Become aware of personal strengths and interests
  • Develop and reflect on personal competencies
  • Explore possibilities after graduation related to education, work and personal life

On this page:

Check out the Career and Vocational Skills section in #Outreaching - the blog of the PRCVI Outreach Team.

Connections to the BC Curriculum – Core Competencies

The BC Curriculum emphasizes Personal and Social as a core competency with the goal that all students understand themselves, develop a positive self-identity and self-worth, and understand their roles and responsibilities within society. 

The Positive Awareness & Responsibility Competency Profile identifies three facets related to self-awareness:

  • Self-determination
  • Self-regulation
  • Well-being

Career and Vocational Skills - Students with Visual Impairments

For students with visual impairments, learning about the possibilities of life as an adult is important. Independent work is a goal for many learners, either part-time while they are in high school and/or full-time upon graduation. Some learners may enter a program at the post-secondary level to further explore interests and improve their career prospects with a degree, diploma, or credential. 

Typically sighted peers are surrounded with information about what it means to work and to have a job. A trip to the shopping mall or grocery store provides many incidental opportunities to learn about jobs. Students with visual impairments will require direct, systematic instruction in the knowledge, skills, and tools for locating, securing, and sustaining employment. There is a strong rationale for a focus on career and vocational skills for these learners: Disproportionately high rates of unemployment among visually impaired individuals. According to Statistics Canada’s 2006 survey (2007), 49.2% of individuals with visual impairments were unemployed or not in the labour force. Within the same time period, the unemployment rate for the general population was 6.6% (2009).  

To prepare students with visual impairments for a career, they need to have an opportunity to explore opportunities and develop skills with instruction and supports for career awareness, exploration, preparation, and placement (Wolffe, 2019). 

Examples of Career and Vocational Skills

  • Developing positive work habits
  • Time management and being punctual
  • Following instructions and asking for clarification or support
  • Interacting and communicating effectively with others

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

American Printing House for the Blind (2012). Transition tote system: Navigating the rapids of life. Louisville, KY: APH. [Resource Kit - braille format]
Transition Tote materials teach middle school, secondary, and transition students with visual impairments essential skills for learning about themselves and the world of work. Materials are also available in large print.
Bridgeo, W. et al., (2014). Total life learning: Preparing for transition. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind. 
Curriculum guide that includes six strands: Work skills, Organizational Skills, Self-Advocacy Skills, Personal Care/Daily Living Skills, Employment, and Post-Secondary Education. 
Trief, E. (2017). College bound: A guide for students with visual impairments (2nd ed.). New York, NY: AFB Press.
This transition guide from high school to college prepares students for developmental organizational, note taking, test taking, and study skills to managing living space, student teacher relationships, social and academic life, extracurricular and leisure time activities included.
Wolffe, K. E. (1999). Skills for success: A career education handbook for children and adolescents with visual impairments. New York: AFB Press. [Professional Text]
Guide to teaching career education and exploration skills to students from K-12. Topics include encouraging socialization, providing realistic feedback, and developing compensatory skills. 

Web-Based Resources

APH Career Connect (2020). Explore Careers for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. Retrieved from https://aphcareerconnect.org/explore-careers/
Page with tips and strategies for career exploration. Topics include researching job opportunities, connecting with others, and accommodations for visually impaired workers
BC Ministry of Education (n.d.). Career Education. Retrieved August 20, 2019 from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/career-education/core/introduction
Career Education is an area of the curriculum for all learners in British Columbia. 
Conference Board of Canada (2019). Employability Skills. Retrieved from https://www.conferenceboard.ca/edu/employability-skills.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Page outlining fundamental skills for employment, including communication, managing information, problem solving, and numeracy.
Cmar, J. L. (2015). Orientation and mobility skills and outcome expectations as predictors of employment for young adults with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness109(2), 95-106.
Research article highlighting the many ways that O&M skills support career education outcomes. Travel skills for novel/unfamiliar environment are significantly associated with employment whereas travel in familiar environments using rote knowledge is not. 
CNIB Foundation - Post-Secondary Scholarships. Retrieved from https://cnib.ca/en/programs-and-services/learn/scholarships-and-awards/cnib-post-secondary-scholarships?region=bc
This site from the BC-Yukon division of CNIB Foundation offers information about a variety of scholarship offered to post-secondary students, as well as who to contact to get additional information.
Learn How to Become. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/
Check out a variety of career options that students might be interested in pursuing. The following fields of study are covered: Arts & Humanities, Business, Computer, Education, Engineering, Medical, Mental Health, Nursing, Physical Health, Public Service/Legal, Science/Tech and Vocational. 
Life of a Blind Girl Blog (2019, November 3). Ten tips on employing a person with a visual impairment. Retrieved from https://lifeofablindgirl.com/2019/11/03/10-tips-on-employing-a-person-with-a-vision-impairment/
Blog post featuring tips for employers from the perspective from an employee with a visual impairment, including a reminder that each employee with have a different sensory profile. 
McDonnall, M. C., & O'Mally, J. (2012). Characteristics of early work experiences and their association with future employment. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness106(3), 133-144.
Research article highlighting the importance of early work experiences to later employment. It is not sufficient that students have some form of employment in high school - the type of job, the means through which the student obtained the job, and the duration of the job are all important factors requiring consideration.
PRCVI (2016). Transition Resource Guide for BC Students. Retrieved from https://prcvi.org/media/1086/transition_resource_guide_for_bc_students.pdf
PRCVI has assembled a transition resource guide to assist teachers of students with visual impairments in framing the conversation with students and their families around key issues related to post-secondary transition.
Wolffe, K. (2010). BC Vision Teachers' Conference – Skills for Success with Dr. Karen Wolffe. Retrieved from https://www.setbc.org/2010/11/bc-vision-teachers-conference-inspiring-success-with-dr-karen-wolffe-2010/#1478728936877-b65b7908-a6461692-2dfa
NEADS (2019). High School Transition Portal. Retrieved from https://www.neads.ca/en/norc/movingon/
The NEADS website contains many important resources for Canadian students transitioning into the workforce or to post-secondary education. Check out their page devoted to preparing for K-12 graduation.

References

Kamei-Hannan, C., Brostek Lee, D., & Presley, I. (2017). Assistive Technology. In Foundations of Education (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 611–653). New York, NY: AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind.

Wolffe, K. E. (2019). Career Education (pp. 159-172) . In J. Ravenscroft (Ed.) The Routledge handbook of Visual Impairment. Routledge. 

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