William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center Launched To Increase Employment, Workplace Inclusivity For People With Vision Loss

February 12, 2018
Wichita, Kan. – Envision announced today that it has partnered with sister agency LC Industries and launched the William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center, its most extensive employment-centered program to date, aimed at training people who are blind or visually impaired, placing them into skilled positions and providing accessibility inclusion expertise to businesses around the United States. Mike May, considered a pioneer and leader in the accessible technology sector, has been appointed executive director.  
Efforts have now begun to raise $1.5 million by December 1, 2018 to receive a $750,000 challenge grant from the Tulsa, Okla.-based J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. Funds will support the construction and ongoing operation of the new facility. Generous support of donors including LCI Foundation of Durham, N.C., and Carl and Gigi Allen of Allen Exploration, assisted Envision in qualifying for the Mabee Foundation challenge grant.
“With this initiative, we are honoring the ongoing legacy of William L. Hudson (CEO of the Durham, N.C.-based LC Industries), an icon in our industry who has been at the center of creating national employment opportunities for people with vision loss for the past 50 years,” said Michael Monteferrante, president and CEO of Envision. “Like Mr. Hudson, we believe that the time is right to place an unparalleled focus on creating equal opportunities for white collar, professional positions in the workplace for people who are blind or visually impaired.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growing demand in many industries in which people with disabilities have not been typically represented, including information technology, health care, scientific and green jobs. The BVI Workforce Innovation Center will employ experiential training programs to help individuals acquire and hone the skills they need and encourage organizations to regard trained individuals who are blind or visually impaired as a rich source of dedicated and highly qualified employees.
 “With our 84-year history, Envision is uniquely positioned to address gaps in workforce development, remove barriers to entry and drive employment innovation for the people we serve,” said Heather Hogan, Senior Vice President of Foundation and Mission Services at Envision, who was instrumental in establishing the BVI Workforce Innovation Center. “People with disabilities must become part of the solution in fulfilling the need for skilled workers in the ever-changing economy. Youth programs, job training programs, collaboration with employers around the country to create accessible workplaces, consumer contact services and testing/evaluation of assistive technology are key components to the BVI Workforce Innovation Center’s success.”

Mike May joins Envision from The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., in Seattle. He previously held positions in various technology companies in California and Oregon and started his career as a political analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. He holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. and was a member of the President Obama White House delegation to the 2010 Paralympics.
“I am excited and honored to be joining the Envision team and spearheading this unprecedented and greatly needed initiative,” May said. “Our goal is to become the thought leader and catalyst driving innovation, advocating for inclusion and creating upward mobility for people who are blind and visually impaired in the workforce.”
Donors interested in helping Envision meet the Mabee Foundation challenge can contribute at http://www.envisionus.com/donate. For more information about Envision’s many other programs and services benefiting individuals who are blind or visually impaired, visit www.envisionus.com.
About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.

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