Joanne is a lead information manager at Hanscom Airforce Base. Joanne has been blind since birth with a disease called retrolental fibroplasia.
Joanne worked part time at her uncle’s business while finishing college when she heard about the opportunity to work at Hanscom. Once hired, Joanne found the original work designated to her was not well-matched with her skills and abilities. A part of the job was working with handwritten notes that were not easily used with assistive technology for people who are blind. Joanne was able to talk with her supervisor and found a different job within the organization, in information management.
Joanne is able to perform her job with the use of a scanner that helps translate written text onto the computer so that it can then be read aloud. She credits the Hanscom Information technology department with going out of their way to assist her when she needs IT support. She also got assistance from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) to help her identify available assistive technology supports. The combined efforts of Hanscom IT and MCB have given Joanne the tools she needs to succeed on the job.
What do you think it takes to make others feel empowered?
"I’d like to see schools for the blind help children and families do more problem solving and more mobility lessons. Visually impaired people need to learn how to react and respond on their own. It’s also important to make sure your resume is complete, you are well-dressed, are timely and can perform the duties being asked of you.”
What advice would you give to employers considering hiring a person with a disability for the first time?
“Employers need to know about assistive technology and be educated about the various kinds of disabilities out there.”