Each October, we as country celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), but this year is particularly significant. In 2020, we mark both the 75th observance of NDEAM and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, the annual NDEAM recognition seeks to educate Americans about employment issues confronting people with disabilities, and it celebrates the many varied contributions these workers have made to our country.
Losing one’s vision is an especially challenging adjustment for adults. Many people who are blind or visually impaired are qualified for a wide range of jobs and want to work; however, after vision loss they are unable to find employment, navigate public transportation or complete tasks of daily living without training. Rehabilitative services are essential to learning how to live life without sight so that full independence can be retained or restored.
In Indiana, more than 160,000 people are coping with vision loss. Facing a national unemployment rate of 70%, Hoosiers who are blind or visually impaired must overcome significant challenges to become and remain part of Indiana’s workforce. The most pervasive of those obstacles are employers’ concern about engaging someone who is blind in their workforce.
Bosma Enterprises is a nonprofit committed to creating opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and we envision a future where there is equity and no one is at a disadvantage. Rooted in over 100 years of history, Bosma is Indiana’s largest employer of workers with vision loss, with more than half of the organization’s nearly 200 employees being blind or visually impaired. These employees hold positions at all levels of the company including leadership.
Companies struggling to find skilled, qualified workers in today’s competitive hiring market should not overlook nontraditional labor offered through partnerships with organizations working for social equality. Leveraging this skilled and competitive workforce can provide businesses with solutions and also help workers with disabilities achieve financial independence.
Bosma Enterprises operates several lines of business, offering contract packaging, warehousing, logistics, product assembly and other scalable supply chain solutions for government and commercial markets. Bosma Enterprises’ successes demonstrate the vast capability of workers with vision loss. These are individuals who deliver competitive results for business partners locally and across the nation.
Since the beginning of February, Bosma Enterprises has shipped hundreds of millions of gloves to facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Throughout the pandemic, the organization’s leaders have taken significant steps to keep employees safe and healthy, and they continue to adjust protocols based on government guidelines. Employees are very proud of their contribution to ensuring the safety of health care professionals in the field and in our nation.
Another essential aspect of Bosma Enterprises’ mission is providing rehabilitation services designed to ensure our fellow Hoosiers – many of them senior citizens – can function in their communities, even after vision loss. A path to independence reduces reliance on government assistance and often eliminates or significantly delays the need for costly residential alternatives, such as assisted living facilities and group homes.
Bosma Enterprises is proud to pursue such an impactful mission and welcomes all Indiana businesses to celebrate this historic month by making the employment of individuals with disabilities a priority moving forward. To learn more, visit bosma.org.
Lise Pace is Vice President of External Affairs at Bosma Enterprises.