The Importance of Good Careers Advice for Young People with Vision Impairment

We know, through our research with the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research, that careers advice for young people with vision impairment (VI) is a postcode lottery. So, what can a young person do to open up opportunities? How can they get the most out of careers advice? And when is the best time to seek advice?

We caught up with Chief Executive, Sam Everard, and Chief Operating Officer, Wayne Ingram, from The SAMEE charity to discuss good careers advice for young people with VI. Between them they have more than 40 years’ of careers advice experience. Sam has both professional and personal experience of vision impairment as her daughter has the sight condition Nystagmus. Here we share their advice and best practices for professionals working young people with a vision impairment.

What is careers advice?

Careers advice is confidential information, advice and guidance that helps someone define and explore their career goals. Most careers advice will begin for a student in year 10 or 11. But others start even earlier – sometimes at primary school age. The provision for vison impaired young people should carry on up until the end of the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) – if the young person has one – which is around 25 years old.

Both Wayne and Sam said a good careers advice session should be confidential and impartial. Importantly, they both agreed that the advice given to a young person with a vision impairment should be no different to that given to a sighted person.

Wayne said “I’d work no differently with them… I’d motivate them in the same way and tell them to shoot for the moon”.

How can a young person get the most out of careers advice? 

Careers guidance aims to help the young person make a balanced and informed decision about a career path. The advisor should act as a sounding board to discuss all their options.

Sam said: “Careers advisors should think about how they can motivate young people with a vision impairment to get the best out of them. So, when applying for a job they can come across assertively and say, “I can do this job really well; I just need this adjustment in place.”

She added: “I would make them the leader of any meeting they attend, and I always request for them to say what they need. It could be better lighting in the room, having the room set up in a particular way or for the resources to be in braille or a bigger font.”

Why is seeking careers advice so important for a young person with a vision impairment?

Getting the right careers advice and advisor as a vision impaired young person is so important as it opens up new possibilities for them. They might have been told in the past they can’t do a particular job because of their level of sight.

Wayne said: “A really good careers advisor working with someone who is VI will have already done research and have a good understanding of Access to Work, employability and other schemes.”

He added: “I recommend careers advisors to do My Sighted Guide training because you learn so much about how you can support someone with a vision impairment.”

When should a young person seek careers advice?

Young people should be seeking careers advice as soon as they can access it. Sam said: “A young person with VI should be seeking it out as they are ready, so they can explore different options.”

“Ultimately, it’s about developing opportunities for VI people. If there is a job role they want to do, then the careers advisor can work with them to ascertain whether or not that job role is possible or if there’s something similar within the field that may be more achievable dependent on their disability. It’s about opening opportunities rather than shutting the door on things.”

What else can a young person do to open up opportunities?

Most young people will have the opportunity to have a careers advice session but people with vision Impairment should be able to request extra support. Sam said “Request as many careers sessions as you need. There should be provision there for you. Young people should be able to have more than their one statutory session and you can access the National Careers Service for advice, which is a 24/7 service.”

She added: “Parents should also be talking to the school – they should be proactive. As a parent of a daughter with Nystagmus and Ocular Albinism, I got her involved with work experience and volunteering, so that she could experience different environments. This also taught her how to explain what she needed to do the role and about her VI to others in order to be successful.

“Sometimes, the parents supporting that young person to do work experience is really beneficial.”

For any professionals who wants to understand more about how different eye conditions affect children should watch our video “What do we see? 2 – how the world looks to vision impaired children and young people.”

You can also contact your local blind societies who will provide sight awareness training.

About the SAMEE Charity

The SAMEE charity was set up in 2016 to support people with disabilities with career guidance, self-employment and employability support.

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