Kelly Bleach, Ph.D. is a 2022 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Kelly Bleach at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Mitch Kusy, Committee Chair, Dr. Bonnie O'Day, Committee Member, Dr. Harriet Schwartz, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Mitch Kusy Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Harriet Schwartz, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Bonnie O'Day, Ph.D., Committee Member


Leadership, grounded theory, blindness, low vision, disability, computer-mediated communication, employment, workplace inclusion

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Companies have increasingly turned to text-based communications to recruit, hire, and manage a distributed remote workforce. For people who are blind or visually impaired, this movement presents both challenges and opportunities for attaining and retaining employment. Does the potential isolation of telework have a negative effect on workplace relationships for people who are blind or visually impaired? Does participation in text-based workspaces mitigate stereotypes and stigmatization experienced by people with visible disabilities? Using a constructivist grounded theory framework, this study explored how people who are blind or visually impaired experience relationships in text-based workspaces. Building and maintaining social connections and networks is critical for employment success, so understanding the factors at play in text-based workplace communications is key. Interviews with 18 blind or visually impaired professionals revealed a number of ways individuals connected with colleagues, cultivated professional identity, and built extended networks. This happened despite challenges from technologies and organizational processes that failed to account for employees who are visually impaired. This investigation resulted in the development of an emergent theory and a model that can advance policies and practices for employers and for employment training and support programs. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Kelly Bleach

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0003-3743-2248

Kelly Bleach, Ph.D., has focused her career on forward-thinking management practices with a commitment to facilitating a fully accessible and inclusive workplace. She worked at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) for more than twenty-five years, leading areas such as information technology, human resources, finance, and program evaluation. She stepped down from her full-time role as Chief Business Officer to pursue her Ph.D. at Antioch University, but continued as Internal Consultant, Special Projects and served for nearly a year as Interim Director of Research.

Kelly applies leadership and change theory to examine promising and best practices for leveraging technology to advance inclusion of people with disabilities. She earned a M.S. in Computer Information Systems from the University of Phoenix and a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida. She is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and as a Human Services Executive Leader through the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation. Dr. Bleach currently serves on the board of the Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey.