Starting at a very young age, people begin to think about what they want to do and who they want to be when they grow up. Once they experience different aspects of life and pursue varying avenues of education, these expectations may change. People may face challenges and obstacles while striving to achieve their goals or get their dream job.
In the United States, there is an estimated 4 million individuals with a vision impairment of working age: 16 to 64 years old. These individuals may face additional obstacles or challenges related to the expectations that they or others have of them. As they work through these obstacles, they challenge these expectations and go beyond them.
At Vispero, our mission is to enable blind and low vision individuals to reach their full potential – to gain an education, obtain employment, succeed in professional careers, and live independently throughout their lives. One of our employees that is essential to this mission is Elizabeth Whitaker, a member of the User Education and Outreach Team. We interviewed Elizabeth for this article to discuss employment, challenges, and advice she has for those starting out in their careers.
Vispero: What was your first job?
Elizabeth: My first job was as a technical specialist for Services for the Blind in Arkansas.
V: What challenges did you face and how did you feel when you overcame them?
E: I was just out of college and relatively new to using the Windows operating system. My job was to teach staff and clients how to use assistive technology such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and portable notetakers, plus other third-party applications like word processors and web browsers. The biggest challenge was learning to use technology I had never been exposed to in a short amount of time, then teaching it to clients. I needed to be knowledgeable and thorough. This was a fun challenge to overcome and one I was very proud of as it taught me how resourceful I can be in a crunch, and how to find people who could answer the questions I could not.
V: How long have you been at Vispero and what is your favorite part of your job?
E: I have been at Vispero for two months shy of four years. My favorite part of working here is getting up every day to a job I love, getting to work with such wonderful, talented, and helpful co-workers, and helping and engaging with our customers. These experiences are immeasurable!
V: What challenges do you face when you take on new projects?
E: New projects sometimes mean doing something I’ve never done before. While this is certainly a challenge, I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s all about improving lives personally and professionally, so I go into every new project with that in mind.
V: What advice would you give to a blind or low vision individual who is just starting their career path?
E: Base your career path on what inspires you and makes you happy. Gain the skills you will need to work in that field, and always continue learning. Don’t be afraid to try new things or learn new technologies, and most of all, keep a positive attitude as you move forward
Make an Impact
The National Federation for the Blind shares this passion and commitment to providing the services and tools that individuals need to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. This commitment to provide blind individuals with the opportunities and skills needed to compete in the workplace has moved us to partner with them for our second annual matching gift challenge. Double your impact and be a part of the mission to empower independence and challenge expectations by giving to the NFB during the “Challenging Expectations: A Partnership with Vispero” NFB Matching Gift Challenge. Give to the NFB from October 15th through the end of 2022 and Vispero will match your gift up to $50,000!