There are more than seven million adults and children in the United States with some form of visual impairment, according to the National Federation of the Blind. In 2015, there were about one million Americans who were legally blind, but this number is expected to increase to eight million people by 2050.
Unemployment is pervasive among members of this group. Around 70 percent of visually impaired people do not have a job. Some workplaces hesitate to hire visually impaired people because of their perceived shortcomings. Other workplaces lack amenities to accommodate them.
It is also important to consider the mental health of visually impaired individuals. A good number of individuals struggle with depression because of their situations and some are hampered by this psychological roadblock.
Visual Impairment, Depression, and Substance Abuse
Various studies have linked blindness to depression, especially among young people. A 2013 study provided evidence to support this connection.
Unfortunately, the bidirectional link between depression and substance abuse is also well-established. This means that people suffering from mental health issues have a greater tendency to misuse substances, and vice versa.
Alcohol and opioid drugs are common substances of abuse. Synthetic opioids are man-made opioid drugs that include fentanyl and many prescription drugs. Using them may create many negative outcomes, such as tolerance, addiction, and overdoses. There are many signs of fentanyl overdose that may range from annoying to deadly.
It is best to seek assistance for depression before it spirals out of control. Unfortunately, depression increases the risk of suicide, especially if people do not get the help they need. It appears that many people are not receiving the help they need, since suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2016.
Best Jobs for People with Visual Impairments
Vision loss presents several challenges. It may affect individuals' ability to find jobs, arrange transportation, and pursue leisure pursuits. It may affect their ability to complete chores and other tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping.
While the statistics state that many visually impaired people are unemployed, the statistics do not reflect their willingness to be productive members of society. The question is, where do they start?
Fortunately, antidiscrimination laws are already in place to penalize employers who discriminate against people of different abilities. There are also programs that encourage corporations to hire differently abled employees.
Here are some of the top jobs for people with visually impairments, according to government and private data:
- Telemarketers and customer care representatives
- Teachers (the American Association of Blind Teachers includes several links about visually impaired teachers)
- Journalists (Gary O’Donoghue of the BBC, Michelle Hackman of the Wall Street Journal, Peter White of The Guardian, among others)
- Massage therapists
- Rehab specialists
- Motivational speakers (such as Mark Pollock, Miles Hilton-Barber, and Pervez Hussain)
- Computer programmers (such as Michael Forzano and Lucas Radaelli)
- Network engineers
- Lawyers (such as Jack Chen)
- Judges (such as Richard Bernstein of the Michigan Supreme Court)
- Copywriters and advertising professionals
- Social workers
Advances in technology, such as Braille and synthetic speech, make it easier for people with visually impairments to access computers and other devices. People with visually impairments have talent and the willingness to work. They should be able to do so.