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Study shows blind and visually impaired women fare worse economically.

Study Shows Blind and Visually Impaired Women Fare Worse Economically

An education does not provide economic opportunity for blind and visually impaired women equal to that provided to their sighted peers, male or female, or to blind and visually impaired men, according to the preliminary results of a 3-year national study conducted by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Mississippi State University.

The preliminary survey results, based on a study of 379 employed people, were announced recently at AFB's 65th Research Practice Seminar held in conjunction with the Southeast Regional Conference of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) in Orlando, Florida.

"Through this survey, we've attempted to compare the impact of educational background on current occupational status and life satisfaction for blind, visually impaired and sighted people, respectively," said Corinne Kirchner, Ph.D., director of AFB's social research department. "We based our survey on 379 employed people with varied educational backgrounds."

Among the findings were the following:

* Only 16 percent of the blind and visually impaired women surveyed have a household monthly income of $2,500 or more (from all sources, including housemates) compared to 42 percent of the blind and visually impaired men. Twenty-seven percent of sighted women have a household monthly income of $2,500 or more (from all sources) as do 48 percent of sighted men.

* A blind or visually impaired woman with a college education makes an average of $1,786 in monthly household income (from all sources) compared to $2,394 for sighted women, $2,710 for blind and visually impaired men, and $2,824 for sighted men.

* The difference in monthly household income (from all sources) between college graduates and nongraduates in only $276 for visually impaired women, compared to a difference of $631 for sighted women, $778 for visually impaired men and $823 for sighted men.

For legally blind respondents, work satisfaction decreases with education. Only 44 percent of visually impaired college graduates, male and female, report they are "very satisfied" with their work. In contrast, 59 percent of sighted college graduates report they are "very satisfied" with their work, compared to 50 percent of sighted noncollege graduates.

"Although past studies have indicated the generally lower earning power of women throughout society, this survey demonstrates that blind and visually impaired women are doubly disadvantaged because of their sex and their disability," according to Katherine Nelson, M.A., senior research associate at AFB, who presented the findings at the Research Practice Seminar.

For more information about the survey, write to Katherine Nelson, senior research associate, Social Research Department, American Foundation for the Blind, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011.
COPYRIGHT 1989 U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration
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Publication:American Rehabilitation
Date:Sep 22, 1989
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