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For February 2012:

Attending functions at work

Attending functions at work is probably one of the more challenging things for a disabled employee. Each type of disability has its own unique challenge but for someone who is blind or sight impaired; I would like to list just a few of these.

It is always a good idea for someone in the workplace, a sighted employee, to ensure that when a function is about to take place, that the blind or sight impaired employee's needs are understood. Blind and sight impaired employees in the workplace often need help to do such things as navigate the room, find a seat, find the buffet table, and if it is a sit down meal to know what is being served. It is a good idea to have someone act as a so-call escort/tour guide through out the function. In addition, it is always helpful for a blind or sight impaired person if they are able to know where their friends are sitting or standing in the room.

When I worked in the mainstream workplace, I always made sure that whenever functions took place, there was someone around to help me find my way around. The buffet table was always my greatest challenge because of having to know what was being offered. Next came finding a seat, followed by being able to know what was on my plate; what was being served to me.

On the whole, it is always best for a blind or sight impaired employee to discuss these types of needs before hand with either a close colleague or even the manager if that fails. Many sighted employees either often take for granted that their blind or sight impaired coworker can get around or they simply forget to take these types of challenges into consideration. Some managers are very good at anticipating these types of needs while others do not think and need to be told. Once they are, things usually go a lot more smoothly. I think that the name of the game here is to avoid uncomfortable situations for everyone.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a terrific day.

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