Assistive Technology Helps Visually Impaired Workers

GHARIB: And finally tonight, if you think unemployment above 9 percent is bad, you might be surprised to know the jobless rate for visually impaired people is much worse. Seven out of 10 blind Americans are out of work. That`s a whopping 70 percent of that population! But, in our continuing series “You`re Hired,” we hear from one man who says new technology helped him beat the odds.

KERRY WALKER: My name is Kerry D. Walker. I subcontract with prime contractor Deloitte and I`m an Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) support technician. I initially received a degree in computer science and math and secured a position at IBM. After being there for approximately a year, I noticed that I was having a little difficulty with my vision. I left IBM. I looked into companies like Columbia Lighthouse for the blind and NIB — National Industries for the Blind — to see what kind of opportunities might be available for an individual in my situation. I found out that I could stay in the IT field, because they offered assessments which provide you with the opportunity to learn about assistive technology. The technology that I use is called JAWS. Every step of the way, JAWS is reading each key, allowing you to know exactly where you are in the process. I received an email saying that CLB was looking for an Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) support position, so they saw that I was qualified and they made me an offer and I accepted. I think some of the notions about individuals with low vision or visual impairments are preconceived. You wonder, how can you do that if you can`t see this or you can`t read this? The way the technology is moving now, it`s wonderful because the playing field is level now. Almost anything a sighted person can do, a person with a visual impairment can do as well.

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