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adapted from the TCB Career Guidance "Job Seeking Skills Workshop" by Richard Mover

What is it?

An Ability Statement is an organized presentation of information that specifically addresses concerns an employer might have about hiring a person who is visually impaired. It includes the following descriptions:

  • What the disability is. Do not use medical terminology or give acuities. Instead, give a practical description of what you see.
  • How you plan to get to work and how you will get around the work site safely.
  • What low vision aides and adaptive equipment you plan to use to accomplish work tasks. Pay special attention to how you will do written work and how you will access printed material. Positive words should be chosen to focus on what you can do.

Why is it necessary?

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits employers from asking about disabilities, but if you come into an office using your cane, believe that the employer will have questions about how you can do the job safely and efficiently. Since the employer cannot ask (and usually does not know about techniques and tools that are second nature to you), it will be up to you to provide information about how you will perform the essential duties of the job. If you have researched the job and can describe your strategies for meeting the employer's needs, you will appear as a competent, motivated, intelligent individual with the ability to plan ahead and problem-solve.

How to use it?

Although as a class we will be putting your Ability Statement on paper, this is for your own benefit so that you can organize the material you want to share and so that you will have a "study sheet" to review when preparing for interviews. You will never give this written Statement to an employer and you will not include it with an application form. Instead, you will verbally present the information during an interview when it seems most appropriate.

  • For persons who are totally blind - Consider beginning the interview by saying,

    "Before we get started, let me take a few minutes to tell you something about the way I get things done". When you finish giving your Ability Statement, turn control of the interview back to the employer by saying, "I imagine you have a number of questions. Please feel free to ask." Most employers cannot imagine how they would do their jobs without sight, and they can get so wrapped up in their own thoughts that they don't give their full attention to your interview. By bringing the blindness issue into the open and talking about it, you clear the air and set the stage for more serious consideration as a candidate.
  • For persons without an obvious disability - There will be several logical places in any interview where the Ability Statement can be added. Two common times might be at the end of your response to the question, "Tell me about yourself" or as part of your answer to, "How is your health?"