Both the Randolph-Sheppard Program and the Ability One programs have been successful employment options for people who are blind. These specific programs have the ability to allow people who are blind to be gainfully employed along with benefits.
Currently as the result of the pandemic, many blind vendors employed through the Randolph Shepard Act have found their businesses struggling. The number of federal employees who are working remote have drastically reduced the amount of revenue vendors have taken in.
The National Industries for the Blind programs are equipped to accommodate employees who are blind. Very little in regards to accommodation needs to be done once a person is hired; the NIB makes sure that jobs will be able to be done by people who are blind when taking on a contract.
DOL should encourage use of NIB agencies as places for short- and long-term employment of blind and low vision citizens.
Paid apprenticeships and internships are being used to transition from school to work. This avenue is not often enough used for people who lose vision as adults to transition careers. And since too many of these apprenticeships and internships do not turn into full-time employment, there needs to be support for making that transition complete.
When federal or state funds are being used to allow for starting up of Paid apprenticeships and internships there should be checks to be in place to allow for insuring that the work can be done by as many people as possible who may be disabled.
Although programs exist to offer employers money to provide accommodations to disabled employees, not enough employers know that these programs exist. DOL should increase awareness to employers as part of an ongoing orientation to small and large businesses which would speak to the strengths of a diverse workforce in communities. Two research-based strengths associated with blind and low vision workers is their loyalty, longevity of service and their relative low use of leave. Periodic repetition of these orientations will be necessary until diverse workplaces are the norm.