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A vision for employment with Irish Guide Dogs

Image of a workplace. Text overlay reads: Employment Vision Project.

Irish Guide Dogs’ new Employment Vision Project aims to support people who are blind or vision impaired to access employment and improve career progression and employment outcomes through education and training. The project itself has created employment opportunities for two such people, as we recently heard about from Project Administrator Mary Crossin and Assistive Technology Officer Jackie McBrearty.  

“I’m a new recruit to the project,” explains Mary. “I have a vision impairment myself and when I heard about this initially, I thought ‘how would I do that?’. I live in a rural community so it’s difficult to get places when you have a vision impairment but remote working made me think that it might be possible.” 

“We are what the project is all about. The challenges of isolation and transport are not such big issues – remote working has opened up a new world. This project opens up doors for people who just need that chance to show what they can do.” 

Jackie McBrearty agrees. “As a guide dog user, I’ve known about Irish Guide Dogs’ work for a long time. I graduated in 2006 with a degree in social care and I have found it impossible to find work. You can’t get work without experience, but you can’t get experience anywhere because employers see the disability and not the person. Working on this project, I want to bring down those barriers for others like me.” 

The project will also support potential employers to provide employment for people who are blind or vision impaired by accessing skilled project participants who are ‘work ready’ and require an opportunity.  

Mary Cawley, Employment Vision Project Manager, says the initial focus of the project will be to recruit participants.  

“We are currently recruiting participants to get an idea of skillset. Some people will be work ready, while others may need career guidance or to re-skill and others again may be interested in self-employment. Part of our work will be to help participants clarify what they want.” 

“We will be looking at employment opportunities local to participants, as well as remote opportunities nationally. Covid has helped employers to realise that people can work remotely and do a good job, but we don’t want people restricted to remote-only either. It’s all about choice and opportunity.” 

Irish Guide Dogs are now recruiting 20 participants nationwide. You will find more information about the project on their website