“Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2022” applies to all children, especially those who are blind or who have low vision. Why? Because we know that children with visual impairments need purposeful exposure to jobs and career choices that they may not “see” on TV or by casually walking down a street. Let’s devise a plan for making the experience enjoyable, accessible, and tailored to your child. Most importantly, “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” is a day of bonding between parents and children while they embark on a full day of career exploration and exposure to job concepts and skills!
Mark April 28th, 2022 in your calendar and begin making arrangements; the experience is well worth your investment. To understand just how treasured and meaningful a “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” can be for your child, read former APH CareerConnect Program Manager Joe Strechay’s account of visiting his dad’s NYC office.
Utilize the “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” Foundation’s Activity Center to prepare for the experience, and consider the following to ensure the experience is accessible and meaningful for your child who is blind or low vision.
Tips for an Accessible and Meaningful “Work Day”
- 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. You can host your child for a full day or a limited duration, or you can plan to work on various tasks for short periods of time with ample breaks for your child.
- Create a simple tactile map of the building, one area of the building, or even the layout of the office. Use Creating a DIY Tactile Map for Your Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired to help orient your child to your workplace before setting foot in the office.
- Plan a few activities or experiences based on your child’s individualized learning goals. Examples include intentionally modeling good manners or specific social skills, utilizing a calendar system, involving your child in group work, or solving problems together.
- Begin the workday with an orientation to the building. You can utilize APH FamilyConnect’s Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired Orient to a New (School) Building article as a guide.
- Identify and discuss social skills and work habits, known as “soft skills”, which allow you to be successful on the job. Recognize your unspoken job expectations and explicitly teach them to your child. Remember, your child isn’t learning by observing (called incidental learning). Share the formality of clothing and shoes you choose; the importance of your timely arrival; the requirement of your participation in meetings; the thought process behind decisions you make; and the avenues you utilize when questions or concerns arise. Talk through 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, former work experience, and mentoring) as well as 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 a variety of individuals to communicate their job responsibilities to your child. If your child is interested in a particular role, perhaps they can ask to shadow an individual for a set amount of time or ask to interview the individual to learn more about the position. Your child may even ask for the individual’s contact information in an effort to establish a mentor relationship.
- Consider concepts that can be taught to your child while they’re with you at work. Provide opportunities for your child to explore unfamiliar work or job-specific “concepts” you encounter at work, such as a cubicle, office, receptionist, file cabinet, uniform, cafeteria, or elevator.
- Talk with your child about the experience after the workday. Talk about what was encountered, what your child noticed, what they wondered, and what experiences/ concepts reminded them of. Find out what was learned and enjoyed; find out what was confusing or frustrating. Tell them 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 they can do”, and it’s never too early to begin dreaming and planning for future work.
Here’s to a meaningful and accessible “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”, one that ushers in a season of career exploration!
When the “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” dust has settled, encourage your child to set additional goals for career exploration. Your child may wish to coordinate an additional job shadowing experience in a field of interest; to investigate APH CareerConnect’s Career Exploration, Part I: The Research Sequence and Career Exploration, Part II: Reaching Out to Others articles; and/or to work through the free, self-paced Job Seeker’s Toolkit. Your transition-age youth or young adult may also wish to join the team at APH CareerConnect for our very popular Career Conversations series. Richard Rueda, APH CareerConnect Digital Content Manager, and guest cohosts will welcome, introduce, and engage with working blind and low vision professionals from all backgrounds.
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