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Take Charge: a Strategic Guide for Blind Job Seekers.

. . . a book review

TAKE CHARGE: A Strategic Guide for Blind Job Seekers

Probably one of the largest statistical categories of people in this country is that group known as "working-age" adults -- people between the ages of 18 and 65, most of whom perform or want to perform some types of job functions in our society.

A significant number of this group includes people with visual impairments, most of whom, like the rest of us, want to work. Yet, many working-age visually impaired people are presently unemployed or underemployed, while others, though working, are otherwise dissatisfied with their present jobs.

In an effort to assist people with visual impairments who fall into this category, Take Charge: A Strategic Guide for Blind Job Seekers, by Rami Rabby and Dianne Croft, has been published by the National Braille Press, Inc. Both authors are professionals who have long experience in meeting the employment-related needs of people with visual impairments.

After reading only the first chapter, one realizes that, like many self-help books, this is not light reading. The book makes it quite clear that although simply finding work, or improving one's job situation, can be an exciting prospect, job hunting requires a lot of effort.

Another characteristic about this book is that, although it is brimming with information and facts designed to assist the job seeker with a visual impairment, the facts and principles outlined in this book apply to all people who are either unemployed or underemployed and are seeking a change in their careers. Whether discussing resume writing, interview preparation, the use of cover letters, or strategies for conducting the job search, it contains a wealth of information that can be useful to all of us.

One of the problems that usually plagues publications of this type is that they are usually nothing more than vague "pep talks" about a subject with which the writer is all too unfamiliar. Fortunately, this does not hold true for this particular book, which is characterized by a basic assumption that getting a job requires study, knowledge, a systematic approach, and hard work.

This volume provides a lot of useful information, such as describing the six jobs that produce the most stress. Although this sort of knowledge may not solve a person's immediate employment problems, the book quite rightly reminds the reader that such factual information gathering can make the difference between failure and success in the job search.

The main premises of the first chapter is that ignorance can be harmful. Due to factors such as fear, lack of guidance and lack of confidence, most people looking for work are full of misconceptions about the best strategies for securing employment. The book makes it clear that maintaining a superficial knowledge about the job market, as well as one's own interests, strengths and weaknesses, can lead to disillusionment and failure.

Take Charge lists four specific strategies that can assist a person in gathering the necessary information to proceed. These are: read, ask and listen, observe, and gain actual work experience. These strategies sound obvious, but the book examines each of them in great detail, providing a wealth of material on specific sources of information as well as various techniques which can be successfully used to implement these strategies. Here again, as in the rest of the book, the authors provide tried and true methodologies for achieving results.

Among the numerous suggestions provided, for example, are some to assist in securing either paid or volunteer summer work. because such experience can be invaluable in providing abilities and work experience to employers at a later date.

The second chapter builds on the importance of information gathering through a discussion of the need for accurate and honest self-assessment. An examination of the difficulties, and the reasons for these difficulties, in conducting a self-assessment is provided in this chapter, along with a number of strategies for overcoming these barriers. The book points out that the need for self-assessment by people with visual and other disabilities can be especially meaningful, given the unreliable feedback (overly positive or negative) that they often receive from well-meaning family members, friends and co-workers. Several techniques are listed which will have specific appeal to various individuals, and the authors wisely acknowledge that differences in temperament and personality will have a marked effect on the way this whole process is approached. These techniques can range from the analysis of a written or taped autobiography to the use of computer-related assessment tools. Both individuality and thoroughness are stressed.

The remainder of the book, chapters three through seven, provides information on the various aspects of job hunting, from resume and cover letter writing to preparing for an interview. This publication covers various methods of conducting job searches and provides an inside look at the labor market. Readers learn, for example, that only 20 percent of job vacancies are filled through vocational rehabilitation agencies, employment agencies and other private services; and the fact that approximately 80 percent of jobs are filled internally through inside hires makes learning the art of networking not only advisable but absolutely essential for successful job hunting.

One learns how to cope with the statistical odds so that the rejections for specific jobs that almost always routinely occur during an extensive job search can be seen as statistically, rather than personally, significant.

Chapter 5, in particular, is an invaluable source of information on just what employers think. It discusses what employers really want in an applicant and how they view blindness. It provides ways of dealing with negative attitudes that may arise. The potential job seeker must put him/herself in the employer's shoes and understand what employers are looking for.

The sixth chapter provides a down-to-earth look at things often overlooked by the potential but naive job seeker, such as managing and preparing for an interview, handling issues related to blindness, strategies for "selling" oneself, salary negotiations, and much more.

The last chapter covers in great detail issues concerning job performance and its relationship to blindness. Topics such as managing blindness and productivity, promotions, successful job performance, and reasonable accommodation are examined.

In addition, additional sources of information, such as publications, organizations and resource professionals, are provided.

This book, then, is a must for those who want to become more aware of the many possibilities and options available to people with visual impairments in seeking or upgrading employment. The book itself says it best, "This book is for you: the unemployed, but determined to-be-employed, blind job seekers; the employed, but determined to-be-better-employed blind job seeker; the savvy parent of a blind child, who sees a brighter future; the smart rehabilitation counselor who understands who's in charge; the conscientious teacher who provides career counseling; the employer who wants to be prepared for the next take-charge blind job seeker who walks through the door."

This book is available from the National Braille Press, Inc., 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115 (telephone: (617) 266-6160), in regular print for $23.95 (which includes UPS shipping), and for $19.95 for any of the following formats: in Braille, four-track NLS-compatble audio cassette, 5 and 1/4-inch PC compatible computer diskette, and VersaBraille II disc. For UPS delivery, add $4.00.

Mr. Barrett is an information specialist with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.
COPYRIGHT 1990 U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Barrett, Donald
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1990
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