Can barriers to the glass ceiling be fixed?

Can barriers to the glass ceiling be fixed?
By Donna J. Jodhan

In a previous article I posed a question to my readers asking the
all-important question “is there a glass ceiling?” I know only too well how
sensitive a topic this is for all stake holders and the comments in this
article are mine and mine only.

In said article I outlined the following artificial barriers which I feel
lie in the way of breaking through this so-called glass ceiling and now I’d
like to respectfully make some suggestions as to how these barriers could be
fixed.

A hesitation on the part of management to recognize the potential of those
blind employees who do indeed show potential –
In tackling this barrier it could be fixable if more awareness is given to
management of the potential of their blind employee. Trust needs to be
built between management and employee. A commitment to work on hesitations
on both sides could be initiated and a continuous effort to explore various
avenues could be developed. Awareness training could be used in this case.

Technological barriers that either prevent or encumber the progress of a
blind employee –
For better or for worse, technology often has the last say when it comes to
how the career and progress of a blind employee is dictated. In several
cases technology often prevents or hampers progress but there are work
around strategies but it takes a lot of patience, a considerable investment
in time, and an initiative on the part of all concerned. A willingness to
understand how access technology interacts with mainstream technology is
definitely needed and out of this would come a greater level of appreciation
for the technological barriers being faced by blind employees in the
workplace.

The hesitation or unwillingness of some coworkers to be open minded to the
potential of their fellow blind coworkers –
This barrier is often a difficult one to overcome and my suggestion here
would be to persist with awareness training and conscious efforts to deal
with and discuss hesitations on the part of co-workers. We could certainly
work to try and change attitudes of hesitation through awareness training
but we may not be able to fix attitudes of unwillingness.

A lack of proper or adequate training for blind employees which if
available, could greatly help to increase their chances of breaking through
the glass ceiling –
Timely and adequate training for blind employees is a must and can go a long
way to breaking down this particular barrier. Training should always be
made accessible to blind employees in the same way that it is made available
to mainstream employees but a word of caution: The type of training that
you would need to offer to your blind employees needs to be carefully
thought out and the appropriate experts in accessibility and access
technology need to be sought if the training is to be made meaningful.

A possible attitude on the part of a blind employee that there does indeed
exist a glass ceiling –
This barrier could be broken down through a concerted effort on the part of
management to show the blind employee that opportunities are there for the
taking but there needs to be a healthy dose of reality thrown in for good
measure. By this I mean that expectations need to be carefully managed and
clearly communicated to the blind employee so that at the end of the day
everyone is on the same page.

I hope that my suggestions can be of use with regard to this particular area
and that they can be used as fixes to said barriers if they are deemed to
exist in your workplace. Fixes are not always easy to accomplish. Some are
fast and quick while others take a longer time to accomplish. Some may not
see immediate results while others may never see success.

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