It’s summertime, which seems like the ideal time to focus on the benefit of children who are blind or visually impaired volunteering in their communities.
While volunteering is a work-like experience certainly beneficial to all children and teens, it is particularly profitable for children and teens who are blind or visually impaired. Sighted young people can observe many work concepts as they simply navigate public spaces and workplaces. Children and teens with visual impairments may well talk about work concepts, yet have no foundational understanding of
- types of job responsibilities,
- types of jobs available,
- job expectations,
- an employee-employer relationship,
- work-related hard and soft skills, and
- clothing and personal grooming appropriate to a job setting.
Volunteering with your younger child as a family or encouraging your older child or teen to volunteer independently will present your child with natural opportunities to acquire this knowledge.
Added benefits of volunteering for children who are blind or visually impaired include:
- Acting in the helper role which supports social development and boosts confidence
- Self-awareness, including recognizing interests and aversions, aptitudes and weaknesses, as well as personal work values
- Developing positive work habits
- Opportunities to receive constructive criticism from supervisors, thereby helping to obtain a realistic view of self
- Recognizing the need for job accommodations and blindness-specific skills including Orientation and Mobility (O&M)
- Undertaking the process of obtaining a job, which is similar to obtaining a volunteer position
For more information regarding your child volunteering as a person who is blind or visually impaired, read “Finding a Volunteer Position” and “Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering.” If your child is of age to participate in paid work, read “The Secrets to Turning Your Volunteer Job into Paid Work for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.”