Leveling the Playing Field for Blind and Low Vision Entrepreneurs

Baseball home base in foreground, with ballfield in background

By Jonathan Lucus, Executive Director, NSITE

In the course of my career, I have seen many talented people struggle against a social and corporate culture that needlessly created roadblocks to success for talented individuals who are differently-abled.

At NSITE, our mission is to break down those barriers and shift that reflex response of, “not possible,” to “of course.”  We do this by helping to place blind and low-vision talent in great jobs, and partnering with businesses to make it easier to hire, onboard, and retain these individuals.  We offer training programs for workers who are seeking to get into (or back into) jobs in IT, finance, and HR just to name a few. Through specially-designed courses that allow blind and low vision individuals to access materials previously unavailable to them, program participants emerge from these trainings well-equipped to step into positions that match their interests and career goals. A lot of this work is done through great partnerships we’ve forged with businesses like American Printing House, Bristol Myers Squibb, Baker Communications, CISCO, Google, and Credly/Acclaim.

Now, in partnership with Wharton Business School online learning, NSITE is expanding its career-readiness program into the field of business ownership and management. Under the umbrella of NSITE’s Leadership Development portfolio, NSITE is crafting an Entrepreneurial Initiative curriculum that meets the specific needs of our participants and provides them with an extraordinary opportunity to learn from a program developed in partnership with one of the nation’s leading business schools.

The curriculum we’re developing is an exciting one. Business operations, finance and budgeting, marketing and even decision-making will be part of the course. An integral part of NSITE’s Entrepreneurial Initiative are monthly hour-long sessions with Dean Thompson, a blind entrepreneur who started his own video production business decades ago. Despite a master’s degree and multiple tv and video production awards, Dean could not get hired because employers were unable to see beyond his visual impairment and recognize his professional value. Dean will share his experiences and key insights into what it takes to start and run a successful business during regular meetings with our aspiring blind entrepreneurs throughout the program.

As mentioned, the course is part of our Leadership Development portfolio of courses, which is continuing to expand and add new classes and course offerings in coming months. Because leaders emerge at all levels of their careers, this program will provide training that spans careers from Aspiring to Experienced, offering a program that supports Executive leadership by tackling 21st Century challenges that face today’s business leaders. 

This program is an exciting opportunity for our program participants, and is one more way we are working to level the playing field for blind and low vision individuals who are interested in taking their career to new levels. 

Jonathan Lucus, MPA, EML is the Executive Director of NSITE, a DC-based non-profit that connects corporate leadership to exceptional, dedicated employees, and supports organizations across the entire continuum of corporate training, talent recruitment, talent development, onboarding, and long-term support. He was named one of Business Insider’s Top 33 HR Leaders and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.