Workforce center for visually impaired coming to Wichita

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A new workforce innovation center for those with vision loss is set to come to Wichita this year.

Envision, one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss, is announcing the launch today.

The William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center will be located inside Envision’s downtown building.

According to organization officials, the new employment program hopes to provide professional jobs to those who are blind or visually impaired.

“We have recognized that there’s a gap in the marketplace,” said Heather Hogan, senior vice president of Foundation and Mission Services at Envision.

Hogan added that 70-percent of individuals with vision loss are unemployed nationwide.

The workforce center will provide certification and hands-on training on a variety of platforms, such as customer service and technology.

“We’re going to teach them to be accessibility and usability testers of all things digital and electronic, web compliance…those kinds of things,” Hogan explained. “We’re also going to focus on consumer call center services. Areas in which we think they can be successful.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a growing demand in industries, in which individuals with vision loss are underrepresented.

According to Hogan, one of the barriers of getting individuals into the workforce is the workplace.

She added that many businesses can’t accommodate those with vision loss, so Envision is planning to hire an expert to go visit local businesses, evaluate their practices and provide remediation.

Hogan said the new program is going to encourage companies to regard trained individuals as highly qualified employees.

“If there’s a little bit of accommodation, a little bit of allowance in the workplace, they can do everything that you and I do,” Hogan said.

The workforce center is unique to Wichita, and Envision officials believe this could benefit the city.

“One of the things the workforce innovation center will do is platform the city as a progressive city,” said Hogan. “A city that cares about inclusive communities. A city that cares about inclusive employers.”

Envision received a $750,000 grant for construction, which is scheduled to begin this week. However, they are still looking for funding.

The workforce center is scheduled to open in June.

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