Observed annually in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices. In recognition of the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce, the theme for NDEAM 2022 “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.”
The Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB) is a state agency that serves Oregonians who experience vision loss. OCB Vocational Counselors help job seekers hone many of the skills necessary to obtain or retain employment. Only 44 percent of people who are blind are employed compared with 79 percent of those without disabilities. We recognize NDEAM both nationally and statewide to raise awareness, challenge biases and celebrate individuals with disabilities who are successfully a part of Oregon’s workforce.
Amazon is actively partnering with OCB and is making hiring individuals with ‘All Abilities’ a top priority. When the OCB’s Business Relations team begins to work with a business on launching or strengthening inclusive hiring practices, change can come in little steps, big leaps, and everything in between. OCB is thrilled with the steps Amazon has taken to recruit and support individuals of all abilities.
Amazon has created an Accommodations Team, dedicated to support people who are legally blind. They work to find safe, productive, and rewarding positions at Amazon sites across the country. As soon as Amazon hires someone who is blind, the employee requests an accommodation and begins consulting with the accommodations team to brainstorm and develop worksite solutions.
OCB client Tony Lane was hired at Amazon in 2020. “Tony has no vision, so Orientation and Mobility was a big thing,” said his vocational rehabilitation counselor Vallory Alter. “Working with his job developer Moriah Krussow and one of our Orientation and Mobility teachers, Amazon put down tactile grip tape that leads the path that Tony needs to travel and installed tactile paving pads where he needs to turn, which gives a more solid way of indicating direction. Additionally, Amazon provided Tony with the Aira service which provides real time assistance.
“All my bosses are super happy I’m working there, and they’re glad I’m on their team,” Tony says. “They know I can do my job; I might have to do it a little differently, but I can do it.”
Tony was able to help move the needle on educating his employer about how to support and work with a totally blind person.” “I hope more blind people will be willing to apply at Amazon,” says Tony. “We can do the jobs, and we need more blind people to prove that we aren’t just somebody that has to sit behind a desk”.
“Amazon’s approach to accommodations is really proactive and progressive,” says Business Relations Coordinator Molly James. “We don’t always see things like this, so we are excited. We want to celebrate how much time and energy they’ve taken to partner with us, and wrap-around this particular employee.”
OCB offers Disability Awareness and Blind Etiquette training at no cost. If you’d like to plan a customized training for your business or agency please contact Molly James and Morgan Rincon: Business.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Amazon’s initiative to hire people with legal blindness, feel free to contact their business relations team as well.