Herd SIGHT brings awareness


Brittany Hively

Herd SIGHT was a webinar hosted by LCOB featuring three speakers with varying vision impairments. The speakers all spoke about their vision, career difficulties and how they have worked past the issues.

 Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business (LCOB) is raising awareness of the needed employment accommodations for those with vision impairments.  

Herd SIGHT was a webinar hosted by LCOB featuring three speakers with varying vision impairments. The speakers all spoke about their vision, career difficulties and how they have worked past the issues.  

“Work can actually provide meaning, engagement and self-actualization in our lives. For some, work is taken for granted,” Ralph McKinney, associate professor, said. “For others who are blind or visually impaired it is a challenge. Job seekers face obstacles from stereotypes about inabilities to complete tasks — to beliefs that reasonable accommodations are too costly.” 

Anthony Candella, outreach coordinator for Bookshare/Benetech, was born partially sighted by a condition that that causes his retina to degenerate. He has been completely blind for 20 years.  

“As time went on, my vision started getting worse and worse. When I was in my mid-thirties, I learned how to read braille. By my late-forties, I really couldn’t use my eyes anymore to see anything meaningful.” 

Candella said he reads braille, uses a cane and uses talking devices. 

“I would try to do things that everyone else tried to do, but because I had poor eyesight, sometimes I didn’t see well to get it exactly right,” Candella said.  

Candella said he had to avoid dark places and be more cautious with walking prior to a cane. He also had to relearn how to do things without sight.  

“I live alone. I use my braille skills to label things. I was taught by special teachers how to do things like cooking and cleaning and clothing management, things that you do for everyday living,” Candella said. “And of course, the more sophisticated things that you do for work have helped me in my professional life.” 

Candella said most disclose that they are blind during employment interviews and it is difficult.  

“You have your most difficulty in the early part of your career due to the fact that employers are afraid to hire you. Once you start building a track record it gets easier because then you can piggyback from your last job to your next job,” Candella said. “It never goes away. It is something that makes people wary about if they should hire you. They do worry about if you can actually do the job, and they do worry about if you will cost them extra money for the reasonable accommodations. Most are not expensive at all really.” 

Jeff Bosley, chairman of the Sounds Good, LLC. Board, was born extremely near sighted and has Marfan syndrome that predisposed him for retinal detachment.  

“This is very important that folks get this idea,” Bosley said. “A lot of people in the general population experience visual handicaps, especially us of the baby boomers age, so I think it’s important for employers to realize this. I think we can be an important asset to help them prepare for that.” 

Bosley said schooling needed him to be more focused than normal.  

“I had to retreat within my head because when you can’t see what’s on the board, it’s a little tougher for folks,” Bosley said. “But I did very well.” 

He suffered from retinal detachment from both eyes, leading to complete blindness in one eye and near blindness in the other.  

Bosley said he has always been involved with audio and recording, and the move into digital helped him move further in his career.  

“We saw audio recording move into the computer age, so I started reentering that area,” Bosley said. “It became possible to set up a good studio and produce excellent quality material much more inexpensively and also very accessibly because you have a large computer monitor that you can bring everything up on.” 

Bosley said the biggest difficulty he has is transportation.  

“My wife has a career, so it makes it difficult to schedule. Transportation is the big issue. That is really the basic thing I’ve had to overcome. A lot of little things I can do,” Bosley said.  

Randy Gilkey, singer and songwriter has been blind since birth due to retinal detachment. He has slight light perception in one eye.  

Gilkey said he relies on the light to find doorways and see other things.  

Gilkey prefers to work in his own studio because of the accessibility, and technology has helped.  

“I can use my computer with the speech and my screen reader,” Gilkey said. “Using these technologies, I have access to the keyboard estimates that I want. When I’m at my studio I have my own drumkit and guitar amps, all the stuff I use to record with. When you’re at someone else’s studio you’re on their clock and sometimes that’s a disadvantage to me.  

Gilkey said he thinks manufacturers need to be more aware of those with disabilities when producing products.  

“I think there needs to be a way to make these manufactures and these people that produce gear more aware that, hey there’s 10,000 blind folks out here that play,” Gilkey said.  

The LCOB hopes to do more awareness events in the future.  

“We need to create accessible working spaces, that should be the rule and not the exception,” McKinney said. 

Brittany Hively can be contacted at [email protected].