Making a Living


Its very difficult making a living as a blind person. The most stress I’ve ever had in my life was when I was married, for the first time, and I was the only bread winner. I couldn’t get my x-wife to work for nothing. Supporting four mouths was a ton of pressure.

In the workplace dealing with customers differences are not always a good thing. Differences can introduce, unstable, elements and potentially impact trust in the business relationship. Ironically the business context is what helped me to decide about being open with my blindness. I didn’t want my customers to potentially mistrust me. If I wasn’t being forthcoming or truthful about my disability what else might I be hiding. Its a hard question to answer. Being open and out blind is a much easier proposition to manage.

I often think of myself as a barometer, for the economic health of an industry, city, region, country, global economies. When things are bad its VERY, did I say VERY VERY VERY, hard for a disabled person to get a job. Companies are far less willing, and really don’t have to, invest in you and the accommodations you need to work. Its harsh and cruel but fact. When people companies countries don’t have do accommodate you they won’t.

Accommodation at work is non trivial. Many people and a lot of companies think. We’ll provide you with some technology and that’s it your cured, your no longer disabled, your just like all the others. We’ll not so fast, it isn’t that easy. Accommodation is multifaceted and could include:

Job Modification

There are things I just can’t do or I can’t do them over and over again if you want me to do anything else. I can contribute greatly but we need to work together to find out what works for me and you in the employment relationship. There are things that will need to be done differently or by someone else. There will also be things that I can do better than others of the team. Lets figure it out together.

Technical Aids

Technology gives me the ability to participate and contribute that I would not be able to otherwise. Technology doesn’t take the disability away though. Technology is expensive. Technology breaks, Technology becomes redundant and useless. Needs change and so does the technology I use to accommodate my disability.


Sometimes business process will need to be modified to accommodate me and my disability. I suck totally at recording time, doing expenses, and using tools that aren’t accessible or can’t be made accessible with my technologies. Sometimes I take longer to do somethings, again sometimes there are somethings I can’t do. Lets figure it out together.


Doing the Friday night beer thing and watching sports or playing poker is generally not happening for me. The logistics are generally too expensive and the experience too costly in my: pain, energy, fatigue, functionality, seeing “PEFFS” budget. Sorry I’m not being rude or ignoring the team. Its just not a priority for me and my balance of life. Also there are team building things I just can’t do. Please be flexible.


I love working with teams but if the team collaborates over a laptop or in a room thats dark with documents and a projector. I’m not going to able to add much value. I’ll add what I can but if I can’t see something I will totally rely on the audio and context to frame my input.


I want to work with you to get the most value out of my contributions but we need to work together and just because I did something once doesn’t mean I can do it all the time anytime. Sorry I have to live with the paradox all the time. You only have to deal with me at work, :-). Lets work together to find the balance that works for both of us. I can’t and won’t pretend to be sighted for you. I left Microsoft because of my last manager who insisted, demanded that I appear sighted in customer meetings. Sorry no can do.

Being Valued

Feeling valued at work is sometimes a tenuous thing held by a mere thread. If an area of accommodation is not being address I feel under valued. I have a strong work ethic from feeling like I have to prove myself all the time and if I don’t have work or challenging work I get crazy and find a new job. If you want me to perform at a certain level but won’t accommodate me then I’ll look for a new job where I am accommodated. I’ve lived with my disability for my entire life. If you question or undercut my accommodations I will feel under valued and find a new job. I will work with you to a point, then if the investment isn’t worth the reward I’ll fire you. Get over it you use the same equation with me. I’m not here to get what I can out of you I want to add significant value in my any job I have.

I have struggled to be content in my personal and professional life. Contentment for me professionally is backing off on my working so hard to prove myself and recognize my accomplishments and abilities. I like most anyone else just want to add value and contribute. Accommodation is a non trivial part of that but I learn more about accommodating my sighted colleagues each time I get a new job or work with a new client. I will work with you on almost every point. Technical aids are a funny one. There may be a piece of technology that when I show you doesn’t make a difference in your view or makes a very small difference. Remember for me a 1% difference for you is a 10% difference for me. Its significant. Trust me I don’t like being a Borg but I use the technologies that will help me be successful. Trust me on these choices, on the rest of it I trust we can work together to figure it out.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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