Working

The one aspect of low vision living that frightens me the most is the idea that I may not be able to continue working.  I was out of the workforce for many years while raising my children.  We homeschooled our two oldest children, so I was at home much longer than I expected to be.  I loved being a stay-home mom.  I volunteered with several organizations.  I went to school and earned a master’s degree.  I held a couple of part-time jobs over the years.  But, while my daughter was getting ready to go to college, I was getting ready to find a “real” job.  It was much harder than I had expected.  It took me almost a year to find something – and then I was offered two great jobs, one full time and one part time.  I have been working at both now for about three years and it has been wonderful and fulfilling.  I love my jobs and I love working.

The fear that haunts me is that my vision will continue to diminish to a point where I can no longer keep my jobs.  I know that, even if it happens, it is off in the future.  Still, the idea worries me.  I put off working for so long to raise my children and now that I am finally working I want to continue.  I believe that both of my employers are good and fair, but what if I am physically unable to perform my job?  I wonder if I should learn new skills, but don’t know what skills are helpful for employment as a low vision worker.  One of my bosses keeps asking me what I need in order to continue to be able to do my job.  The truth is that I don’t know.  I have enlarged everything on my computer.  I take frequest breaks from reading.  There are other people in the office to perform the tasks I can’t complete.  Still, by noon I usually have a headache and eye strain.  All I want to do is rest my eyes.  Right now, the future is so unknown that I can’t quite envision what will need to change as my vision decreases.  Perhaps it will become more clear as time goes on.

The good news is, right now, I have two great jobs that I can still perform fairly well.  I am a long way from being disabled.  At the job that is the most visually demanding, my boss is flexible and understanding.  I will be going to the low vision center at ABVI, and they will probably have suggestions for tools to help me continue to work.  The present is good.  The future is unknown, but that doesn’t mean it has to cast a shadow over my current life.  For now, I am happy to be working at two jobs that I love.

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10 thoughts on “Working

  1. Great article. There is a lot of good information here, though I did want to let you know something – I am running Redhat with the latest beta of Firefox, and the look and feel of your blog is kind of bizarre for me. I can read the articles, but the navigation is not good.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Working « Losing Vision Gaining Insight -- Topsy.com

  3. I enjoyed reading your last two entries. I am also legally blind, but also very ill with an autoimmune disease,so I have been retired from my banking position for 17 years now (since I was 29).

    Do all the things you can to keep your jobs, but also know that when one door closed, another one opens, and the key to a happy, fulfilling life is ADAPTATION!

    After leaving my job, I took up horse back riding again, first for physio benefits, then I started teaching, training, and finally my long time dream, breeding. I would never have been able to do all of this if I had not retired early.

    As my vision deteriorated, I had to give up the horses, and now my two passions are gardening, and photography, which I had not pursued since high school.

    Your list may change as your vision does, but it does not have to be for the worst. I kept trying to go back to work, until finally they told me to throw in the towel, and go on permanent disability.

    It is very hard at first, but you adapt, and move forward to new ways to lead a full life.

    Take photographs, I can see almost everything in a photo, especially of people, so I do not feel I am missing out as much.

    Listen with your ears, not your eyes. I love my talking books, I love my iPod Touch, where I keep all of my books, and dream of getting an iPhone with voice commands. I have a large screen, HP TouchSmart PC, that makes everything, especially photo editing, much easier for me.

    ZoomText aslo has some great voices, and enlarges more than your PC can on its’ own. PC skills are the key to further employment, not to mention navigating in the real world.

    Finally your attitude, which I can tell is a very healthy one. There are developments on the horizon that include an artificial retina. I have been told I will keep loosing more sight, but I have yet to concede that I will be totally blind. This works for me, but you have to find your own truth in this respect.

    Best of luck with all this,
    BTW, I got this link through my Blind Photographers Flickr group, where I am C.Mckie Photography (EYZWIDESHUT).

    Would love to stay in touch,

    Cathy

    • Thanks, Cathy. I have seen your beautiful photos on the blind photographers flickr group. Your comments are very encouraging. I would say that, most days, I have a really good attitude. There have been so many advances in medicine and technology that I am grateful to be having vision problems in this day and age. Writing this blog has been very helpful in sorting through my feelings, hopes and fears. I have only recently rediscovered photography and find that I can see much better through my photos than with my “real” eyes. I am working on improving my photography skills. It is such a blessing to be able to really “see” flowers and faces in photos that I can’t see in real life. I would also love to stay in touch. Belinda

  4. Contact your state’s department of Vocational Rehabilitation. They can provide training and equipment for you to maintain or obtain work. I have a son who is blind who ended up getting his PhD and now he has his dream job making tons of money!
    Lindsey Petersen
    http://5kidswdisabilities.wordpress.com

    • Thanks for the encouragement. I think that ABVI here in Rochester offers this type of training and information. I am going to talk to them soon. If they can’t help I will see what NY State has to offer. I added your link to my blogroll. I hope that is okay. Thanks again.

  5. Hi, I work with students with various disabilities at a university in the UK, and would like to suggest that you try listening to your computer where feasible, there are applications that convert the text into speech, and if you wore headphones, this would not disturb other workers, and they normally assume headphones mean that you are listening to music. http://www.naturalreaders.com/ this link is for a free reader for microsoft computers, and uses the free voice (not brilliant) though gives the option of buying a nicer voice. there are better paid for solutions, though I always suggest to students try the free one, just in case this is not for you. There is also voice over for the mac.
    I don’t want to seem to be suggesting not to read with you eyes, just suggesting that if you need to read a lot, then listening will rest your eyes for a while and save your headache. A search for text-to-speech will give you some more information, I hope this is helpful.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I downloaded the Natural Reader and am going to try it on longer texts for a couple of days. The voice is kind of mechanical, but I think I can get used to it. If it seems to be working, maybe I will purchase one of the nicer voices. I can imagine that this will really help avoid eye strain. Also, I added you to my blogroll, I hope that is okay. Thanks again.

      • Hi, I hope that you get on well with the reader. As other people have suggested zoomtext is good, and there are others like supernova (by dolphin) which have excellent voices, and are much easier to live with. I like the free options, as this lets you try before you buy! As I am in the UK I dont know what assistance is available to you, I’m sure they will be helpful.
        The iPod Touch also a great idea (or an even bigger iPad) for listening to audiobooks and reading ebooks too, I think they have speech enablement as well, books should still be enjoyed. I am not sure if you are a reader, if you are you can access loads of classic texts at Project Gutenberg both ebook and audio, and also there is a large collections available on iTunes U, which is free academic content, mostly audio video, and some pdfs. I enjoy listening to the podcasts too, lots on photography, which is how I happened upon your blog.
        I have not yet looked at your list, but I can see you enjoyed the planning of it, and hopefully will blog about completing them too.
        Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, any comments on my photos much appreciated.

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