I’m about to finish my PhD in Sociology. I’m from Pakistan, and I’m totally blind. My PhD research was quite interdisciplinary. I studied factors influencing environmental concern about environmental problems in Pakistan, as well as factors influencing environmental behavior at home. Now I want to do a post doctorate from anywhere in Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand.

Can my blindness be a factor in acceptance / rejection of my application?

If not, what should be my first step for finding a post doctoral opportunity? My research interest is in the domains of environmental sociology and environmental psychology.

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    Welcome to Academia.SE. I edited your question to remove the "shopping" question and clean up a bit. Feel free to make edits if I ruined anything. Also, note that we encourage one question per post -- you may want to move the last paragraph in particular to a separate question. – cag51 Nov 19 at 22:33
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    Following @cag51's edit I also removed the last paragraph; as cag51 mentioned, we encourage one question per post and your second question was not in any way connected to the rest of the question or the title. (normally I don't like to make edits that remove content that has already been answered, but only cag51's answer touched on this part and they already raised it as a problem with the question, so I feel it was appropriate) – Bryan Krause Nov 19 at 22:38
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    Lot of respect for you Faiz! Will you like to share your full name or any of publication as I am really interested in reading your work. – Failed Scientist Nov 20 at 18:23
  • Anecdotally, I went to graduate school for English literature in the United States. There were two other graduate students in the department who were legally blind. – Scribblemacher Nov 20 at 19:47
  • Thank you for the interest in my publications. The two recent are: – Faiz Nov 21 at 13:51
up vote 28 down vote accepted

In the United States there's what is known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

which prohibits discrimination based on disabilities and mandates reasonable accomodations. Full or partial blindness will definitely fall under that category, and so they are legally prohibited from discriminating against you and if hired will work with you to help out. Many other locations have similar laws. In Canada the laws vary from province to province, but most of Canada has similar laws. Many (although not all) European countries have similar laws or regulations as well.

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    Are you certain that the ADA grants disabled people without the US citizenship the same rights as far as US universities and companies are concerned? If so, could you please expand your answer to reflect that? – undercat Nov 20 at 15:08
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    @undercat Yes - "All employees who work in the U.S. or its territories -- American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- for covered employers are protected by EEO laws, regardless of their citizenship or work authorization status". – ff524 Nov 20 at 15:45
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    @undercat The OP is seeking employment as a postdoc. The ADA applies to all aspects of the employment relationship, including recruitment and hiring. – ff524 Nov 20 at 16:02
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    @undercat It's a consequence of the 14th Amendment in the US: "...nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." – Joe McMahon Nov 20 at 23:13
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    @JoshuaZ the ADA regulates the state as well (just not as an employer), but you are right re: the 14th ammendment. The equal protection clause has been used to challenge ADA arguments, rather than support them. – De Novo Nov 21 at 16:48

Can my blindness be a factor in acceptance / rejection of my application?

As others have said, most Western countries have laws preventing discriminating against you due to blindness. However, the standard is that they you must be able to do the work given a "reasonable accommodation" -- i.e., they could reasonably prevent you from flying a plane or being a sharpshooter, as there is no reasonable way they could enable you to do the job. Since you did your PhD research already, it seems likely that you can do the work despite your handicap.

Note, however, that most post-docs are filled (at least in my experience) by interviewing with a professor or small group of professors. Most professors want to do the right thing; however, it is difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison between two candidates at the best of times.

At any rate, all you can do is apply and hope for the best.

Are there any helpful websites that I can frequently check for available post doctoral opportunities?

I don't know (and "shopping questions" are actually not allowed here).

Is it necessary that my research should be on a population of a country where I’m studying for my post doc? i.e., if I’m studying in New Zealand, and I want to collect data from people in Pakistan, is this discouraged?

I don't know your field, but I seriously doubt this would be a problem. Here in the US, at least, there is plenty of research into different regions of the world.

What should be my first step for finding a post doctoral opportunity?

I would start by talking to your advisor, trusted old professors, or friends to find out where such jobs are typically announced. They may also be willing to introduce you to their network.

If the goal is a faculty position, I would consider reading Karen Kelsky's book -- plenty of advice there about best practices for preparing for and interviewing for a faculty position; though the book is widely written, she is an anthropologist and has lots of advice that seems like it would apply well to your situation.

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