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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 blind doctors, lawyers, and athletes. It's time more workplaces caught up.
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Perkins School for the Blind

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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."