Imagine facing a 70 percent unemployment rate. That is the challenge people who are blind or visually impaired are up against when trying to find employment. And it is why Bosma Enterprises' mission to create opportunities is so important.

The Governor’s Council designates each March as Disability Awareness Month to promote independence, integration and inclusion of all people who have disabilities. As the state’s largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired, it’s an important month for us here at Bosma Enterprises as we work to expand employment opportunities for this underutilized workforce.

When I lost my vision, my first concern was how I was going to recover and continue to support my family. In addition to facing a 70 percent unemployment rate, more than 30 percent of adults in the United States who are blind live in poverty. That was a frightening thing to contemplate at a time I was also adjusting to life with blindness.

Right now, there are nearly 160,000 Hoosiers living with vision loss. The dignity of earning a living is life-changing for people adjusting to life without sight and we are proud to provide quality employment that enables these individuals to remain independent and pursue their dreams.

Bosma Enterprises employs more than 200 people, more than half of whom are blind or visually impaired and employed at all levels of the company from production to executive leadership. Our ability to provide these jobs depends on our ability to provide competitive packaging and logistics services, as well as various consumer products.

Bosma Enterprises provides industry-leading packaging, logistics and outsourcing for all types of businesses. We are the exclusive supplier of disposable medical products to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country. Last year we packaged and shipped nearly a half billion gloves and thousands of medical kits, which are used in every area of hospital and clinical settings from transport to the operating room. Our employees fulfill thousands of orders each month with an accuracy rate of more than 99 percent and a typical turnaround time of less than two days.

In addition to the jobs created through the sale of our own products and services, Bosma Enterprises works with both job-seekers and employers throughout the state to create additional employment opportunities. We offer employment services for people who are blind or visually impaired, including vocational skills and career coaching. We also work with businesses to create job opportunities and help prepare them to employ a person who is blind or visually impaired.

Studies show that 80 percent of Americans have a more positive view of companies that are socially responsible. Nearly two-thirds of those Americans are willing to change brands to one that is associated with a cause and almost 75 percent approve of cause programs as a business practice. So not only are these programs life changing for our employees, they have a positive impact on our partners’ bottom lines, as well.

Our employment programs give people with disabilities the chance to become part of the workforce, which is the foundation of the American Dream and the key to financial freedom. So as we celebrate Disability Awareness Month, it’s important to consider the role of employment in creating a world that supports the independence and inclusion of people with disabilities. Bosma Enterprises and all of our partner organizations are happy ot do our part by creating opportunities for a more fulfilling life for people who are blind.