Jobs for Blind People, History and Opportunities Thanks to Technology
2019-09-10 | By Orcam Staff
The very notion that there are limited available jobs for blind people is not as accurate as it once was. Only a few decades ago, the only jobs that blind people could have performed were jobs that required limited physical capabilities. Over the past few decades, technological developments have opened the door to many new job opportunities that were previously unavailable for blind people.
Blind Jobs Before the Modern Era
Only two hundred years ago, before the industrial revolution, very few jobs could be filled without independent physical mobility. Jobs such as tailors, silver and goldsmiths, shoemakers, cooks, and so forth could be done while sitting throughout the day. Other jobs, such as blacksmiths, servants, farmers, shepherds, stablemen, etc. required moving from place to place and seeing your surroundings. The jobs that could be done while sitting or staying in the same place throughout the day, required identification of objects and colors.
These professions could have been jobs for blind people only if there was the availability of human assistance to identify colors and objects. A blind tailor or shoemaker, silver or goldsmith, could have done their job as an apprentice or by using the help of their own apprentice to identify colors or objects for them. Back then, government acts for equality and employment of people with disabilities did not exist. Therefore, employers could discriminate against people with disabilities or refuse to hire them without consequences.
Industrial Revolution Employment
The word sweatshop is still used to this day to describe a workplace with poor employment conditions. The evolution of this type of workplace evolved first in Great Brittain and quickly spread to other parts of the world. Many immigrants to America in the late 1800s and early 1900s worked in sweatshops and just barely scraped by financially. The competition for employment during the industrial revolution became extremely tough. Laborers were willing to put up with low wages and hazards of serious injury in order to maintain their positions for a meager income to survive. Therefore, most employers were not willing to give employment opportunities to people with disabilities. It was people without disabilities who had to struggle in order to obtain and keep their jobs.
The Industrial Revolution began the obsoletion of many jobs and professions which involved human labor from start to finish. Before the industrial revolution, machines were rarely used. They simply were not invented yet. The windmill and the forge were the most common machines used by mankind in the pre-Industrial Revolution era.
Once weaving and iron processing machines were able to perform better work at a faster scale than tailors and blacksmiths, human labor began to shift to the assembly line in the factories. Except for smiths working with fine materials such as gold and silver, most products were manufactured in factories. Jobs for blind people became even more scarce than before.
Government Legislation for Disabled Workers
The United States of America issued the American With Disabilities Act in 1990. This act was instituted to outlaw discrimination by employers against people with disabilities. Jobs for blind people and for people with other disabilities became more accessible due to this act. In addition to this act, the American government began to provide more federal jobs to people with disabilities.
Finding Jobs For Blind People
As with many other jobs today, many jobs for blind people are posted on the internet. Here are a few resources with jobs for blind people:
The National Industries for the Blind have helped to fill thousands of jobs for blind people. The NIB employs over 40,000 people who are blind or have severe disabilities. These people are employed by providing professional services and manufacturing services. These professional services include customer support, administrative services, and more. The NIB operates factories that manufacture office supplies and even military equipment.
The American Council of the Blind operates an online job board. Jobs for blind people are listed and distributed under categories. Some of the jobs are not only for blind people. However, if they are on this job board, they are accessible and can be fulfilled by blind employees.
CareerConnect was developed by The American Foundation for the Blind. Here, people seeking jobs for blind people or for people who are visually impaired can receive job-related information, tools, and guidance.
For many people with disabilities, commuting to the workplace can be challenging. Therefore, being able to work from home provides an easier employment experience for disabled employees. The NTI provides home-based jobs for blind people. The NTI provides employment as work-from-home call center representatives.
Ability Jobs is the largest job site for people with disabilities. Here you will find jobs for blind people from both private enterprise companies and government agencies and departments. The Ability Jobs website is free and resumes are kept anonymous unless you want the potential employer to contact you. Ability Jobs also hosts live online career fairs. Accessibility features are available for the website’s visually impaired and hearing impaired users in order to make the job-seeking journey accessible to all.
Performing Tasks With Technology
Today, assistive devices for the blind and visually impaired can help blind people perform many work-related tasks independently. Text reading from both digital surfaces and printed papers can be performed instantly. Identification of faces and colors can help blind employees to be more independent in the workplace. Thanks to these features available in current assistive technology devices, many more jobs for blind people exist. The most helpful assistive devices for blind employees are devices that are wearable allowing for hands-free usage. OrCam MyEye 2 is the most advanced wearable assistive device for the blind and visually impaired. The features mentioned above are among many of the advanced features and capabilities that are made possible through the device’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The OrCam research and development department is constantly working on enhancing OrCam devices features to increase independence and improve the quality of life for the blind and visually impaired.