As the nation begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, new job opportunities are being created daily. And while sign-on bonuses and incentives may be the new normal for post-pandemic employers desperate to find laborers and service workers to fill vacant positions—the story is often quite different for blind and visually impaired candidates. Advocates estimate that 70%1 of blind and visually impaired individuals across the U.S. are unemployed due to lack of opportunities and other barriers like workplace accessibility and adequate public transportation.
Look closer at the numbers, you’ll see—the pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled workers. According to the just-released April jobs report from the Bureau of Labor of Statistics, only 30.2 percent of the blind and visually impaired population are employed. To put things into perspective—the population of employed people without disabilities was a whopping 71.9 percent2.
Let’s get back to work
The pandemic put many Wisconsin businesses out of business —and in the process, it made finding good paying jobs even harder for the blind and visually impaired. Rather than accept these disheartening statistics, IBVI decided to do something about it—statewide. So, they took their concerns all the way to Capitol Hill (virtually). The goal: to advocate for new policy that addresses key statewide issues including the elimination of subminimum wages, pay increases, updating direct labor ratio requirements and correcting the definition of what it means to have a “significant disability.”
Currently, IBVI employs about 265 people—about 55% are blind or visually impaired. And in the coming year, the goal is to grow the number of employed blind and visually impared individuals exponentially. With new legislation, the state of Wisconsin will be better positioned to employ and empower the blind and visually impaired community entering the workplace. It will also help alleviate some of the uncertainty that some have felt about returning to the workplace by ensuring better opportunities with better pay and better benefits.
From job searching and interview tips to professional networking and more—stay tuned. Our upcoming blogs will feature helpful tips and tutorials to help you or someone you know find a career they love.