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City's 'Hiring Abilities' Fair Brings Employers To Job Seekers Without Sight

Michelle Corum
Job seeker William Ross meets two employees from job fair co-host Florida Blue.

Connecting people with disabilities with jobs was the focus of Thursday’s Hiring Abilities job fair hosted by the city of Jacksonville and the Florida Blue insurance company.

The so-called “reverse job fair” flipped the traditional set-up: Job seekers stood behind tables selling themselves, as potential employers circulated.  

William Ross of Jacksonville was there hoping to find a job in management.  He completely lost his sight a few years ago.  A large tri-fold display sat on the table in front of him listing his work history, objectives, and an executive biography.

Credit Michelle Corum / WJCT News
Job seeker Ruthie Rhodes-Williams, on right, talks with a potential employer, in front of her resume display.

Dan O’Connor with Florida’s Division of Blind Services said about 70 percent of people with vision impairments are unemployed.  He said with this job fair set up, these 38 job seekers with some form of disability are the center of attention.

“I think the chances of success are going to be greater, rather than a mass influx of job seekers,” he said.

Ruthie Rhodes-Williams said she had some luck.

“They looked at my board and all my certificates I have and said, ‘OK, you might be a good fit,’ so I have an interview on Monday,” she said.

Employers included the city, CSX, and Waffle House restaurants.