Are Two Segments of our Population Shortchanged in Employment?
By Bob Branco
Before I even write about this topic, I will give you my firm answer to this question. Yes. Two segments of our population are being shortchanged when it comes to jobs—senior citizens and persons with disabilities. As a blind person with a college degree, my attempts at finding work fail much more than they should. For the most part, we blind people spend more time trying to prove what we can do than those with sight. In fact, we have to use much more energy in order to keep up. It is a jungle out there.
Blindness is only one disability that many employers are afraid to deal with, so I will talk about this subject when it pertains to all disabilities. It’s not as though employers are cruel or insensitive. A lot of them are reluctant, afraid and skeptical. After all, many employers have never seen persons with disabilities perform. With that said, bosses want their employees to be as productive as possible, and unless they know that persons with disabilities can produce in this fashion, employers need to be shown and convinced. Usually, it is up to us to do the convincing.
Senior citizens face a similar dilemma for different reasons. Most business owners want to hire young people fresh out of college with modern skills geared toward today’s job market. Senior citizens, by definition, are much older and have a limited amount of time to be productive. Furthermore, some seniors don’t possess modern technology skills, either because they never had the opportunity to learn or they simply choose not to learn. Imagine if you were a senior citizen with a disability. I don’t want to think about it.
The best way for senior citizens and persons with disabilities to be productive in today’s business world is to market themselves according to modern standards, and to do it extremely well. Whether we like it or not, there are a lot of people competing for jobs with the two segments of the population I’ve just talked about. The only way for seniors and persons with disabilities to compete for jobs on an even playing field with everyone else is to compete fairly, even if it means educating and advocating. That is the name of the game.
(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
About the Author
Bob Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is a self-published author of four books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, and has written columns for local and international organizations. Bob’s web site is