Unemployment of Persons with Visual Impairment (PWVI) remains a significant challenge for them in Uganda. Whereas education is regarded as a key pillar in any transition process, this doesn’t seem to be the case for PWVI. The fact that there have been many PWVI that have undergone school, their number in the employment sector has not been commensurately reflected. There seems to be a number of gaps that needed to be addressed so that more PWVI are absorbed into the formal employment sector after school, where they are guaranteed a salary.
This study therefore tried to explore perceived experiences of Persons with Visual Impairment who had transitioned from school into work. By selecting PWVI who had broken through the barriers of transitioning to be the focus of this study, it was envisaged that the findings would inspire more PWVI that are still undergoing the process of transition to positively encounter the barriers of transition and as a result attain employment.
In order to capture experiences of PWVI who had transitioned from school into employment, a single Case Study Design following a Qualitative approach was carried out on five embedded cases with Visual impairment (VI). Three of the cases were female, and the other 2 were male. Interview was the exclusive method for collecting data. Hermeneutics was used to analyse the obtained data. The data obtained were presented in tabular form where they were coded and sub-categories were formed out of the codes. Sub-categories were later condensed into categories that served as the basis for discussing the findings.
The findings revealed that PWVI encountered a number of barriers in their transition efforts from school into work which ranged from negative attitudes, lack of operational employment policies, limited work experience, low self esteem amongst PWVI themselves, and limited choices of jobs among others. On the other hand, the study discovered that PWVI that were able to make it through transition from school into remunerable employment banked on a number of factors too. These included having an inclusive driven mindset in all their transition efforts, being focused on their studies, maintaining their self esteem, ensuring good inter-personal relationships, being quick to adapt to new situations, and ensuring that they gained work experience before entering their jobs among other factors.
This study was anchored in the Enrichment Theory as its basis for discussing the findings. Three core aspects of this theory were emphasised while discussing the findings. The first was the emphasis of the theory that all persons are free to interact, regardless of their distinctive features. This implies that PWVI, regardless of their loss of sight have the right to attain employment in the field they have qualified for. The second was the assertion by the theory that when right conditions are provided to persons who are vulnerable, ideal conditions for everybody else will also be guaranteed. And thirdly, it was for the fact that the theory aims at looking at individual differences as strengths, rather than as challenges.
This therefore strengthened the opportunity for this study to look at how the barriers in the transition process of PWVI were coped with. Some of the barriers in the transition of PWVI from school into work found by this study included limited work related experience, transition being unpredictable, and the presence of some insensitive environments towards the needs of PWVI. Despite the barriers however, there are PWVI who had coped with the given barriers and were able to transit from school into work especially in the formal employment sector where they are guaranteed a salary. They shared their experiences with this study and attributed their ability to transit from school into work to their ability to adapt to the different environments, having self esteem, and possession of the necessary academic qualifications among others as coping strategies.
As conclusion, this study drew attention of the reader by putting forward some recommendations and suggestions both for future action and for future studies. Some of the suggestions for future action included, improvement in the teaching of Mathematics to PWVI, Ensuring transition planning for PWVI in schools, and ensuring that PWVI are equipped with modern technological skills that would help them in work, among others.
On the other hand, suggestions for future studies were also made. These included carrying out a more comprehensive study using mixed methods so that the findings can be generalised.||eng