Imagine being born blind and never getting to see a sunset, comprehend the color red or see the face of your wife. These are the real circumstances for one of our part-time shop techs. In addition to the loss of vision, now imagine facing an unemployment rate of 70% and a lack of transportation to get to the workplace. The struggles are real for a blind person and if The Seeing Hand Association did not exist in our area it is quite feasible that our blind and visually impaired workers would have nowhere to work to make some income, or even socialize. This older gentleman joined our staff last year for a part-time position as a shop tech. The last time he had a job, besides playing his keyboard, was in 1996. He said he had given up on working because of the lack of opportunities for the blind. Although having more income is the biggest benefit to the job, he stated it gives him the chance to be with other blind and visually impaired individuals. He stated that until he came to work at our agency, it has been about two or more years since he’s interacted with another blind person. The Seeing Hand provides a work environment much like a family. To some of our workers their time at work may be their only outing for the week. Getting to interact with other peers who face the same challenges is one of the great benefits of working here. He is most thankful for the opportunity to learn new skills and to get to do something totally different than he has ever done before. He stated until he came to work at The Seeing Hand, he had never used any tools. We do our best to cross train employees and he is working in the chair caning station cleaning chairs, assisting in making mops and in the extinguisher station cleaning the refurbished extinguishers. Working in the shop encourages teamwork and support for each other. He said working gives him a chance to socialize and have a purpose. Working at The Seeing Hand helps to educate our employees with new skills, helps with their finances and even helps with their physical and emotional health and well-being. This employee loves our exercise program and participates with enthusiasm. Our workers attend an exercise class once a week at our agency. Although, he is totally blind, he can be seen marching in place, using stretch bands and weights and even dancing once in a while. It is next to impossible for our workers to go to a fitness center and we are most grateful to offer this program to them. Whether we are providing a place to work, a class to attend or a support group meeting, much of our worker’s lives are centered around their time at The Seeing Hand. He is an example of how important our agency is in helping him experience a life with the same opportunities as his sighted peers.
-The Seeing Hand Association