The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to investigate the employment barriers discouraged workers who are blind or have low vision (B/LV) experience and explore strategies to overcome these barriers. It will generate information about the effect of government policies and programs on employment decisions and investigate technology, self-employment, and mentoring as potential facilitators of labor force participation.
- What are the characteristics of people with B/LV who identify as unable to work compared to B/LV individuals who are (a) out of the labor force, (b) employed, and (c) unemployed?
- What do people with B/LV who are out of the labor force perceive as employment barriers? What would help them overcome those barriers?
- How do people with B/LV who are out of the labor force perceive their (a) technology skills, (b) need for additional training, (c) access to technology, (d) health, and (e) economic status?
- Have self-employment or mentoring been offered to, and considered by, people with B/LV who are out of the labor force?
- What are the characteristics of successful mentors and mentoring relationships that have helped people with B/LV find and maintain employment?
- Does the quality of the mentoring relationship differ based on factors such as (a) how the relationship was established and (b) vision status match between mentor and mentee?
Labor force participation rates among people with B/LV remain well below the rates for the general population, with approximately half of people who are B/LV out of the labor force. Little information is available about persons who have removed themselves from the labor force and the factors that influenced this decision. To improve employment rates for people who are B/LV, their labor force participation must increase. This mixed-methods investigation will generate new information about barriers to and facilitators of improved labor force participation for people who are B/LV.
Our investigation will begin with an analysis of existing datasets to identify factors associated with being out of the labor force. As information emerges from that analysis, data collection will explore the lack of labor force participation at the individual level through exploratory interviews. Finally, to learn more about one strategy to promote labor force participation, we will survey people who are B/LV to investigate mentoring relationships.
Expected Outcomes and Benefits
This project will allow us to identify and describe factors that influence people with B/LV to leave the labor force and provide insight into strategies and practices that facilitate labor force participation. Our results will yield valuable data to inform policymaking and interventions to increase competitive employment among people with B/LV.
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