Structure a Meaningful “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” for a Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired
by Shannon Carollo
It is my intent to draw our attention to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2017” and devise a plan for making the experience enjoyable, accessible, and tailored to each of our children who are blind or visually impaired.
Mark the date, April 27th, 2017, in your calendar and begin making arrangements; this experience is well worth your investment. "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," is a day of bonding between parents and children as well as a day wrought with job exploration and exposure to job skills!
Utilize the Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation’s Bright Ideas Guide to prepare for the experience and consider the following to make the experience accessible and meaningful for your child with a visual impairment:
Tips for Taking Your Child with a Visual Impairment to Work
- Plan an age and developmentally-appropriate day for your child. The experience is recommended for children and teens 8-18, but I say the experience is completely customizable. For a young child, plan to include her in, say, one hour of your workday.
- Beforehand, create a simple tactile map of the building, one area of the building, or even the layout of the office. Using Paths to Literacy’s Creating a Tactile Map resource, you can help provide your child with an orientation to your workplace before setting foot in the office.
- Plan a few activities or experiences based on your child’s individualized learning goals. This may mean intentionally modeling good manners, using a calendar system together, involving your child in group work, or problem solving aloud.
- Begin the workday with an orientation to the building. To assist you, use FamilyConnect's Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired Orient to a New (School) Building article.
- Recognize your often-unspoken job expectations and explicitly teach them to your child. Remember, your child isn’t learning by observing (called incidental learning). Speak about the formality of clothing and shoes you choose; the importance of your timely arrival; the requirement of your participation in meetings; and the avenues you utilize when questions or concerns arise. Use CareerConnect's article on employer expectations to assist you.
- Identify and discuss the social skills and work habits, known as "soft skills", which allow you to be successful on the job. Talk beforehand about how you handle frustration, take initiative, and show respect for the employment team. Read CareerConnect's article on building positive work habits to review important "soft skills" transferable to all jobs and careers.
- Communicate the technical skills, or "hard skills", you are paid to execute. Share how you acquired the skills (through education and former work experience) and how you continue improving with additional training and practice. Next, involve your child in the executions of tasks, using hand under hand or hand over hand if necessary, and share your research on how the task can be accommodated for an employee who is blind or visually impaired.
- Talk with your child about why you work. From the income to the mental challenges and social connectedness, give your child the "big picture" of your day-to-day grind.
- Introduce your child to coworkers, clients, and staff at every level. Ask the individuals to communicate their job responsibilities to your child.
- Consider concepts which can be taught to your child while he's with you at work. If your child is quite young, have him explore basic “concepts” you encounter at work, such as a desk or an elevator. If you work in a hospital, take the opportunity to teach your child about a pharmacy. If you work in an office, take the opportunity to teach your child about cubicles and a break room. If you work at an airport, take the opportunity to teach your child about an air control tower.
- When the workday is complete, talk with your child about the experience. Find out what he learned, enjoyed, and disliked. Tell him what you enjoy about work and what you find frustrating or exhausting. Lastly, transition the discussion to what type of work your child wants to do in the future. Remember, people with vision loss are not limited to a “list of jobs blind people can do” and it’s never too early to begin dreaming of future work.
To get an idea of just how treasured and meaningful this day will be for your children, read former CareerConnect Program Manager Joe Strechay's account of visiting his dad's NYC office.
Enjoy the day and let us know how it goes!
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