Climbing the Tech Career Ladder with Vision Loss

Four years ago, Nathaniel Doli of Antelope was working in information technology for the state of California when he lost sight in one eye after a procedure.

“I was an IT guy for more than 30 years and suddenly I couldn’t even type my password to log into my computer,” Nathaniel said. “I was devastated.”

He stayed home on disability for a year while having three surgeries on his eye. A widower of five years with diabetes, he was alone in his house nearly 24 hours a day with no idea what to do. Eventually a friend recommended the Department of Rehabilitation to help him get back to work, but then Nathaniel contracted Covid and was hospitalized with minimal kidney function. When he finally came back to work, he was demoted and lost thousands of dollars in income a month because he did not yet have the skills and tools to perform his job duties with limited vision.

Fortunately, the Department of Rehabilitation put him in touch with Society for the Blind. Though he knew how to use countless computer programs before losing his vision, he had to start from scratch in our Assistive Technology classes.

“I knew how to use the programs, but I didn’t know how to use them blind,” Nathaniel said. “I had to learn to use three screen readers, including JAWS, Narrator and NVDA. I also had to learn Windows, Excel, Word and Outlook all at the same time. It really was not doable, but I did it.”

For three months, he went to work every day and then went to Society for the Blind for two hours of classes. After that, he still went to classes three times a week for two years and studied at home in the evenings.

“It was a struggle, and the learning curve was hard,” he said. “But I’m thankful I work for the State of California because they were able to give me reasonable accommodations.”

It took two and a half years for Nathaniel to climb his way back up the career ladder to the job he had when he lost his vision. He has been back in his old position since spring 2021 when he was able to prove he could again do his job.

“I have to work a lot harder than most people now,” he said. “I have a disability, so everything just takes longer, but I’m able to come up with solutions. I’m independent and like to do things myself.