A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Meet Ken

Ken has been working since he was 15 years old. Learn how his computer skills landed him a job in radio production.




Narrator: Welcome to Success Stories, brought to you by Project Aspiro, produced by the World Blind Union and CNIB, and funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. In this video you’ll meet Ken Van Den Oetelaar, a Production Manager at CKLY FM and his supervisor, Steve Fawcett. 

This video includes a montage of clips showing Ken talking with colleagues and working at his desk using assistive technology.

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Ken: My name is Ken Van Den Oetelaar. I am the Production Manager for CKLY FM Radio, 91.9 Bob FM. As a result of complications at birth I lost most of my vision. I have approximately 25% vision in my left eye, and about 70% in my right eye. I started working when I fifteen years old as a dishwasher at a restaurant, and then I went from there to KFC for fifteen years as a cook, a cashier, front-line worker, and a chef supervisor. Then I went to Max, and then to where I currently am. 

I think working as a youth was very important because it taught me the importance of responsibility in a job, and how important it is to put your whole worth into the job. I would say pursue what you truly feel you want to do and you are interested in and go all the way through college and university if you need to, and another big advantage would be doing co-op or placement in the area you want to go into, and get the feel for it and how it would work for you and with you with your vision impairment.

To prepare for an interview I would do a bit of research on the place I was applying, and try to walk into the interview with a bit of extra knowledge about the company or the place where I was being interviewed. 

Steve: My name is Steve Fawcett. I’m the Vice-President and General Manager of Bell Media Radio, Peterborough and Lindsay. He’s a hard-worker, he’s a great individual fit for the rest of the team, gets along well with everybody. We’ve known Ken in a part-time capacity before we moved him into a full-time role and he’s committed. He likes his job and he likes to contribute to the operation and gets along very well with his peers. 

Ken: I didn’t see myself doing production but I’ve always been interested in computers, so the IT side of the job, yes, I figured I would end up there someday, somehow, and the production side, I needed to know the programs for the IT side of it and I just came out one day and there was a situation and I helped out with that situation and my boss came to me and asked me if I wanted a full-time job in production.

A lot of people don’t realize I’m blind. [smiles] That’s the thing. I am normal, just like everybody else. The only problem is I don’t have as much vision as everybody else.

Steve: With Ken’s visual disability, we did do some adjustments to the lighting, I think the [computer] monitors are a little bit different, and really, it was whatever Ken needed to make his job site, if you will, more accessible and easier for him to work with. We tried to accommodate. But when you look at it in the overall investment, versus, how many years we hope Ken will work with us, it’s a relatively inexpensive proposition. 

Ken: A lot of the staff that are here currently, and past, past staff, have been very accommodating in helping me with any little situations where I may not be able to read a certain thing or whatever, they’ll read it for me and tell me what to do, or what it is, or “Can I help?”. It’s not a typical office environment, it’s not “I’m’ here to do my work and that’s it”, it’s “I’m here to do my work, but how are you doing today?”. [chuckles] So, I love my job.