There are blind doctors, lawyers, and athletes. It's time more workplaces caught up.

If the first thing you think of when you hear 'blind person' is all the things they can't do, this campaign is for you.

There are more than 23 million people who are blind or have experienced vision loss in the United States and Canada.

They are doctors, lawyers, and professional athletes. They're actors, writers, and daredevils. They love skiing, dancing, and watching movies.

Check out this moving video about ways that blind or visually-impaired people are challenging misconceptions:


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There's also an audio-described version of the video here.

While being blind or vision-impaired has little bearing on people's ability to do many jobs, it does affect their ability to get a job in the first place.

Fred LeBlanc knows this all too well.

LeBlanc is the star of a PSA created by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). After 29 years working as a firefighter, he began to lose his sight in 2011. A diagnosis of legal blindness followed soon after. In an interview with the CNIB, he talked about how his diagnosis made him doubt his abilities to remain in the workforce:

"I questioned myself. If I struggled with everyday tasks, how was I going to lead a fulfilling career?”

With the support of the CNIB and other blind workers, LeBlanc found his confidence. He decided to run for the position of 13th District vice president with the International Association of Fire Fighters, a job he still holds.

"I thought 'why can’t I do what I set out to do?' I had to tell myself 'don’t be silly, this is not your fault, there’s nothing to be ashamed of,'" he told CNIB.

‌There's plenty of room at the table for blind workers — as long as we give them the chance. Image via iStock. ‌

In Canada, about 60% of people of working age are employed. That number drops to just 32% for the visually-impaired. Similarly, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, only about a third of working-age Americans with visual impairments or blindness were employed in September 2016.

Diane Bergeron, the executive director of CNIB, says that's not for lack of trying. In an interview with the Toronto Star last month, she relayed her frustrations, saying, "We go out, we get an education and then we come out of education and when we want a job there’s no job to be had."

According to the CNIB, creating a workplace that is inclusive and welcoming for blind and sighted workers isn't as daunting as it might seem.

‌A man reads on his tablet. Substituting printed correspondence for digital is one easy way to make a workplace more accommodating for people who are visually-impaired. Image via iStock. ‌

Jim Lee, Chief of Staff to the General President, International Association of Fire Fighters, is Fred LeBlanc's boss at the IAFF. For him, working with Fred is a mind-opening experience.

Prior to working with LeBlanc, Lee had no experience interacting with someone who is blind or partially sighted. Lee quickly saw firsthand that LeBlanc's abilities didn't change, even though his vision did. "Unless he tells you, you wouldn't know that Fred has vision loss," Lee told the CNIB. "His abilities didn't change at all."

To accommodate his colleague's vision loss, Lee and his team made minor adjustments to their workplace. Rather than printing hard copies, they focus on email correspondence. Documents use an off-white background to provide easier visual contrast.

Realizing how little things needed to change helped Lee understand that vision impairment doesn't mean workers needed to exit or stay out of the workforce.

"People with visual impairments have a lot to offer," said LeBlanc. "They just need the opportunity to prove that. Employers have to give them a chance to come in and show what they can do. A lot of employers would be amazed."

It would be easy to tell a story about blindness that focuses on depressing statistics around working or employment. After all, there are a lot.

‌A doctor and a patient look at a computer screen. A more inclusive workplace benefits everyone. Image via iStock. ‌

But the real power is in flipping that story to one of empowerment. Whether they choose to become athletes, artists, or professionals, individuals who are blind can and do lead rich, fulfilling lives, like anyone else. It's time to elevate the work experiences of people like Fred LeBlanc and remind everyone that blind workers can thrive in whatever career they desire — when employers give them the chance.

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Perkins School for the Blind

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture