It was never tough for me to get a job when I was sighted. Even when I got laid-off from a start-up after the Dot Com bust, I was hired as a bartender, with no experience, at the first club I walked into with my pink slip. As a college student, I worked at a payroll advance company, customer service rep for equestrian products, and even at a pet shop — jobs I had never done before, but somehow managed to convince the decision makers to hire me during a recession.
When I decided to become a writer, I figured that my past experience as a recruiter coupled with a big dose of eagerness would make landing my first writing gig not as challenging. Unaware of the obstacles ahead, I retired from an eight year career in staffing and belly flopped into the competitive field of writing.
I’m now a freelance writer and I’m always looking for my next gig. Initially it was frustrating to hear undertones of fear or confusion in the voices of the hiring managers when I revealed my blind side to them over the phone or to get the novelty treatment while interviewing in person, which never lead to job offers. My luck began to change thanks to the help of a television commercial. A few years ago, Samsung was running an advertisement that featured a blind woman and her guide dog as she used her phone on the beach. Everyone mentioned the commercial to me and suggested I contact Samsung for a job; I even got the same phone she had as a gift.
Realizing the impact of demonstrating a blind person using a cell phone had on my circle of friends prompted me to carry my adaptive equipment with me to job interviews. I heard sighs of awe and admiration whenever I showed the people interviewing me my laptop and talking dictionary. I began to hear “When can you start?” instead of “We will be in touch.”
I believe that more employers would hire blind workers if movies, commercials, and print ads showed more blind people doing day to day mundane things. Currently, the media showcases people of all shades of skin and cultures; I look forward to the day more companies use disabled people in their marketing, as we also buy their products.
Who is Belo Cipriani?
Belo Cipriani is the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and the author of Blind: A Memoir. You are invited to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.