Career awareness and career exploration are the earliest components of career education for students who are blind or visually impaired. Talking with others about the work that they do is a great way for individuals to build upon these skills. In informational interviews, students interview individuals who work in a career field of interest in order to learn what it is like to work in that field or industry. This activity is a stepping stone toward an informational interview that helps students develop an awareness of entry-level jobs in their communities. Because of the inability to visually observe, and often due to lack of exposure or experience, students with vision impairments or blindness are frequently unaware of the various job and career options in their communities. An awareness of entry-level jobs can be especially challenging. High school students with vision impairments often have the desire to work like their sighted peers who are getting weekend or summer jobs, but they don’t know where to start.
This activity helps students to learn about some of the entry-level jobs that exist in their communities and what these jobs involve. By interviewing peers who have various weekend, summer, or after-school jobs in their towns, students with vision impairments are not only building upon their social skills and making connections with peers, but also developing an understanding of why, how and where other teenagers work.
Writing or recording device
- By talking with classroom teachers or other school staff, identify several teens at the student’s school who hold weekend, summer, or after-school jobs. If the student attends a school where there is a vocational program for individuals with disabilities, some of the students in this may be great candidates for interviewing, as well.
- Identify 3 teenagers for the student to interview. Ideally, these individuals have jobs of varying styles or in varying industries. Students with multiple disabilities may benefit from interviewing teenagers with similar needs, to get a picture of job opportunities and accommodations. The student is encouraged to be the one to request and coordinate these interviews.
Work with the student to develop a list of interview questions to ask her peers. The list of questions can vary in length and complexity depending on the student’s specific abilities. Examples of interview questions include:
- Where do you work?
- What do you do at your job?
- How did you get your job?
- When and how often do you work?
- Why did you decide to get a job?
- What do you like about your job?
- What do you dislike about your job?
- Record the questions in a format that the student can access easily. She can use these to review beforehand and to reference during the interview.
- Student interviews her classmates and records the interview by taking notes or using a voice recorder.
Following the interviews, talk with the student about the following questions:
- Which jobs sounded interesting to you? Which ones did not?
- Why do your classmates have jobs?
- Pick one of the jobs you learned about. Do you think you could do a job like this with a vision impairment? What are some accommodations that you could use?
In programs for students with multiple disabilities that offer in-school work experience opportunities, asking classmates about the jobs that they do can be a way for students to learn about some of the options available to them. As staff prepare for a student to begin a work experience, staff can determine two types of work that would be appropriate. Then, ask the student to talk to classmates who are already doing those jobs, or present her with some information about each type of work. Allow her to choose between the two work options. This is a way for students with multiple disabilities to learn about different types of work, and also to exhibit self determination skills.