Workplace and Internships Frequently Asked Questions
1. Q: When should I disclose my disability when applying for a job or internship?
A: Disclosure is a personal preference. Some people choose to disclose before an interview, so they don’t catch the employer off guard. This approach is beneficial if you need accommodations during the application or interview processes. Another option is not disclosing until the interview , meaning the first time the interviewer finds out you’re blind is when you're sitting in front of them. Regardless of which option you choose, we recommend being thoughtful of what accommodations you would require from the employer so you are best prepared to answer any questions that arise.
2. Q: What are Vocational Rehabilitation services and how can they help me secure and maintain employment?
A: Vocational Rehabilitation Services are state agencies devoted to helping those who have disabilities in their state find employment. One way these agencies help consumers is by providing financial assistance towards higher education. They also help through transition phases, whether it is a transition from high school to the workforce or high school to college. Vocational Rehabilitation Services may also pay for training centers if you choose to pursue training. The NFB has three affiliated training centers located in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Colorado. However, vocational rehabilitation agencies tend to encourage students to attend their state’s training center. Do not be discouraged if this is the case. You should advocate for your needs if you believe a structured discovery center is right for you.
3. Q: What is Social Security/SSI and how can I start the process of receiving it?
A: The Social Security Administration has two main programs applicable to the blind community: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI.) They both relate to funding those with low income or those who are starting out in the workforce with supplemental income to support their transition. However, these programs have advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages are that you are given monthly income to help you pay for rent, food, transportation, supplies for your guide/service dog, etc. Often this program is related to providing some kind of healthcare whether Medicaid or Medicare. The disadvantage is that especially with SSI there is what is called a resource level limit. This means you cannot have more than $2,000 in either a checking, savings account or in stocks or bonds. The following link will take you to a page discussing further benefit programs offered by the Social Security Administration:
If you need help applying/understanding your rights, you may also contact your local Independent Living Center. The following link shows all of the Independent Living Centers throughout the country divided by State. Once you select the State you live in/study in, you can find the one closest to where you either live or are studying:
4. Q: I struggle with open networking events. What are good tips to help me effectively network?
A: Networking certainly comes with challenges, but here are a few tips that blind students have found helpful. Having a solid elevator pitch is essential for good networking. An elevator pitch is a 45 second speech about who you are. We suggest including the following: what you do, what you are passionate about, and relevant goal(s). Don’t be afraid to ask the other person about themselves. Being an engaged listener can get you far. Once you have finished talking to someone and have exchanged contact information, take a moment to write down some notes about the conversation. Otherwise, you may forget something that could be helpful to you in the future. Finally, follow up. Requesting another time to chat or even sending a thank you message can be a fantastic way to keep the conversation going and show the other person you’re interest. LinkedIn is a great resource to keep in-touch with your professional network.
5. Q: What resources are there to find transportation (I.E. fixed route, paratransit, ridesharing, etc.) to help me get to my job or internship independently?
A: The main answer to this question would be it depends. You can use your Vocational Rehabilitation Services to partner with an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructor who can help you learn to navigate your surroundings. Every place that provides public transit services additionally has a Regional Transit Authority, offering online scheduling through their website. Paratransit Services are an option to receive more individualized assistance. However, you must undergo an application process to utilize these types of programs. Ridesharing companies such as Uber or Lyft allow riders to connect with drivers and passengers through an app. These transportation services can be rather expensive to rely on day-to-day. However, in many situations, they are an efficient option for getting to locations beyond walking or public transportation bounds.
6. Q: How can I format my resume to be visually appealing to future employers?
A: Many templates exist online to assist you in making your resume visually appealing. After you have one drafted, have as many trusted people look at your resume as possible and get feedback. College and University Career Services offices are a great resource to get an objective opinion. However, we also recommend having someone who knows you well take a look so that your resume is an accurate representation of who you are and your goals for the future.
7. Q: Where can I go to get accommodations once I am employed and how do they vary from an education setting?
A: The company you are hired to work for or intern at should have a reasonable accommodation request process. Often it is handled through Human Resources, but if you are uncertain what the process is for requesting these accommodations, we recommend speaking with your supervisor who can help direct you. Remember that requiring accommodations does not detract from your qualifications, but you should make sure that your requests are reasonable and well-justified.
8. Q: Is it in my rights to request my employer to buy screen reading or magnifying software?
A: You do have the right to ask for reasonable accommodations, which includes assistive technology and software. However, be prepared to work alongside your employer to find the best fit for your circumstances. Remember that Vocation Rehabilitation Services can help offset these expenses.
9. Q: What can I do while still in school to boost my chances of getting a job or internship after I graduate?
A: Participating in extracurricular activities like clubs, organizations, or athletic activities is a sure way to gain leadership skills that help in the employment arena. Many of the club/organizations have community projects that can create long lasting partnerships. Be sure to keep an open mind, get involved, and build meaningful relationships. Your perspective is unique and needed in the community.
10. Q: What other workplace accommodations might be helpful besides assistive technology?
A: When requesting materials, you can request that they are distributed electronically and in an accessible format. You can also request that images have alternative text. Remember that being able to navigate your workplace is just as important for your success at a job. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have suggestions for making your workplace safe and inclusive.
11. Q: How can I get connected with blind professionals in my desired field of employment?
A: The NFB has many different divisions catering to many different fields. The link below is a list of the NFB divisions. and committees.
12. Q: What can I do if I feel like I have been denied employment on the grounds of my disability?
A: If you feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of your disability, you can file a complaint with either your State’s Division of Human Rights or file a greater complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC,) who will take these complaints seriously and thoroughly investigate them. Furthermore, the NFB serves as a powerful vehicle for advocacy and collective action. You can reach out to the legal team at our national office.
13. Q: Are there any programs targeted at people with disabilities that I could join for job advice and recruitment?
A: The NFB and NABS are great places to start!
14. Q: I worry about dressing professionally. Where can I get more information and advice to look my best?
A: One resource NABS provides is a monthly podcast called the NABS Now Podcast. In the February 2020 episode, we discuss how to dress for success in a variety of situations on a college student’s budget. The episode can be listened by visiting this link:
15. Q: Where can I get braille or large print business cards?
A: One place to find them would be through the National Braille Press. The following link will provide information about the services they provide.
16. Q: How can I leverage my blindness to make myself more marketable for jobs?
A: Find a way to speak positively about your blindness. For many of us, it is a strength. It is okay to discuss these during the interview process. These strengths could take the form of communication skills, organization and consistency standards, and even bringing a diverse perspective.
17. Q: How do I address doubt about my capabilities to fill a role or position satisfactorily in the application process or workplace?
A:. Address any misconceptions or doubts with the interviewer directly. Asking the interviewer if they have any questions related to your disability can help break the ice and open a discussion. When such questions are posed, be prepared to answer confidently and in detail to alleviate any doubt that the interviewer has. This process includes leaving time for follow-up questions.
18. Q: What can I do to prepare if my internship or job involves relocating?
A: Dialogue with the employer/supervisor is always a great start. Some companies offer relocating expenses if you are a new employee traveling to start a new job, but it is important to discuss this during the hiring process. If travel is required for the job/internship, it is also important to discuss if travel of any kind would be compensated. From there, you can reach out to your VR agency to discuss services that can help with the transition.
19. Q: I am deaf-blind. Where can I find more information and advice about my specific circumstances?
A: The National Federation of the Blind has a division for the Deaf-Blind who can be contacted to help consult a business/support you as the deaf-blind employee/intern/volunteer. Additionally, this link will take you to a list of deaf-blind resources: