Enablers and barriers to participation in learning and preparation for employment for students with Vision Impairment

Preseneted on Friday, 8th March 2024

Content

Unemployment rates remain high for people with blindness and low vision in Australia, despite improved technology and changing attitudes of employers. My research revolved around 6 students with blindness and low vision, throughout Queensland, their parents, teachers, advisory teachers, as well as people with lived experience, policy makers and employers. I really wanted to know what were barriers and enablers to participation in learning and preparation for future employability.

The results showed that access to learning about and developing disability-specific skills were really important. When disability-specific skills were not present, or were not supported, it presented a barrier to future employability for students with blindness and low vision. It was an enabler when students had access to disability-specific skills over regular and sustained periods of time.

Further enablers included a) empowering students to develop personal agency, b) encouraging use of mainstream technology for access and inclusion, and c) promoting a collaborative approach to learning.

Target Audience

All involved in education and employment of young people with blindness and low vision for strategies to increase preparation for future employment.

Presenter

Melissa Fanshawe is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at University of Southern Queensland

Melissa is passionate about equitable access to education. She has twenty-five years' experience within Australian schools as a teacher, advisory teacher, Deputy and Principal. Melissa is a qualified teacher for students with vision impairment, gaining her Masters at the then Royal Institute for the Deaf and Blind. She has worked throughout Queensland to support students with blindness and low vision, including as an Advisory Teacher for Adaptive Technology. Her PhD explored participation in learning and preparation for employment for students with blindness and low vision in mainstream secondary schools. She enjoys her volunteer roles as Vision Australia's education ambassador for LEGO braille bricks, co-president of the South Pacific Educators of Vision Impairment and an executive member of the Australian Braille Authority.