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Project 6 Exploring Employment for People who are Blind or Have Low Vision Through Analysis of National Datasets


The purpose of this project is to investigate employment outcomes beyond basic employment rates and to explore predictors of employment for people who are blind or have low vision (B/LV) using five large national datasets.

Research Questions

Our research team will examine a large number of research questions for this project. Here is a subset of these questions:

  1. What percentage of people who are B/LV are self-employed? How do earnings of self-employed people with B/LV compare to earnings of those who work for an employer?
  2. Does the education level of people who are B/LV match the education level for their job requirements? How does this compare to people without disabilities?
  3. What percentage of people who are B/LV and receive Social Security Disability Insurance work? How many hours do they work per week? What are their earnings?
  4. What percentage of people who are B/LV (a) worked continuously over a four-year period, (b) worked initially and then stopped, (c) worked on and off, or (d) did not ever work? How do the characteristics of these groups differ?
  5. What is the impact on employment of developing B/LV later in life?
  6. What factors predict whether employed people who develop B/LV retain employment?
  7. How do postschool employment outcomes for youth who are B/LV compare to outcomes for youth without disabilities?
  8. What factors predict postschool employment outcomes for youth and young adults who are B/LV?

Study Summary

Despite the availability of data about people with B/LV in large national datasets, few researchers have used these resources to explore employment-related topics. Employment rates for people with B/LV are readily available, but details about their employment status are not. Furthermore, the data used in many studies on predictors of employment for people who are B/LV have become dated.

For this project, we will use five national datasets: (1) the American Community Survey, (2) Survey of Income and Program Participation, (3) National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012, (4) National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, and (5) Health and Retirement Study. We will explore various facets of employment for people who are B/LV, including job quality, underemployment, earnings, self-employment, and continuity of employment. We will also conduct analyses to obtain updated information about facilitators of and barriers to employment for youth and adults with B/LV.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits

This project will substantially add to current knowledge about employment for people who are B/LV. This new information can inform practices, policies, and programs to maximize employment outcomes and economic self-sufficiency for the B/LV population.