Ese Aulmalesulu always dreamt of a career in music but he never dreamt of the obstacles that would get in his way.
After he had completed his studies, graduating with a music diploma, he set about applying for his dream job as a music teacher.
But time and time again he was rejected because employers were short sighted in their attitudes to his eye condition.
“To have studied music … to be told I have this amazing gift and then to have it crushed by what people thought about my blindness was incredibly disheartening.
“I applied for any and every job. After a year of trying and failing I was ready to throw in the towel,” he said.
Watch Ese talk about his work and home life:
Ese’s experience is not an anomaly. Research done by the Blind Foundation in collaboration with the CNIB Foundation and Vision Australia found that people who are blind or have low vision are significantly underemployed.
Sixty-percent of survey respondents found that employer attitudes are one of the main barriers to full-time employment – and half reported feeling they had not been hired because of their sight loss.
Ese turned to our employment services team who were able to help with his career aspirations.
The team assisted with job applications, providing training on interview techniques, and put him in touch with a South Auckland Primary School.
It was his dream job: “I was overwhelmed with emotion when I got the job. I was so grateful for the support from the Blind Foundation and for the school to see an opportunity for their kids.”
Our employment services team also visited Ese’s school to assess what equipment he would need to succeed in his job.
Ese still teaches there today and is a teacher who has a profound effect on the kids he teaches. In 2016, he took a group of students who had a love for music, but no previous training, all the way to win the country’s national Bandquest competition.
Shifting the dial on employment statistics
The Blind Foundation believes that people with sight loss should be able to pursue the career of their dreams, without unnecessary barriers. While we have provided employment support for people like Ese for a long time, we have recognised that to shift the dial on employment statistics we need to be working directly with businesses, and at a pan-disability level to guide them in their interest to become more accessible and inclusive.
Take a look at Accessadvisors.nz and accessibilitytick.nz for more on two of our initiatives that aim to remove barriers and improve the employment experience for people with sight loss and other disabilities.
Would you like to talk to our employment team about how we can help? Contact us on 0800 24 33 33 or email firstname.lastname@example.org