Did you know that there are nearly 70,000 Kansans who are blind or visually impaired? That is one of many things that State Representatives learned during a “Blind Experience Day” hosted by Envision in March at the Kansas State Capitol Visitor Center – right in the middle of the rotunda.
Envision hosted more than 50 Representatives and VIPs who learned more about the misconceptions and stigmas of blindness during a sighted guide training from Ray Oddis, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, as well as first-hand testimonials from Terese Goren and Charles Wilks from the William L. Hudson Workforce Innovation Center (WIC).
“The goal of this event was to give our friends in Topeka an opportunity to understand issues facing people who are blind or visually impaired,” said Karyn Page, VP, Innovation at Envision. “We wanted them to experience something special, not only the obstacles they face, but also the accomplishments they achieve. By addressing impactful issues like job creation and public transportation, Envision works with our government officials to make real change so that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.”
Senator Jeff Pittman said, “It was enlightening going through a blind immersion training at the Capitol, stepping into the world of what it’s like to be sightless. Envision assists with improving the quality of life for blind people ages 2 to 102, including workforce enablement.”
In addition to the inspirational and immersive experience with our elected officials, Envision was honored during the Point of Privilege meeting to recognize February 2, 2022, as “Blind Awareness Day” across Kansas.
As a follow-up to the immersive experience at the Kansas State Capitol Visitor Center, Page wrote an opinion letter explaining the importance of including people who are blind or visually impaired in every aspect of society, especially within the workplace. It was submitted to and published by the Topeka Capital-Journal. It reads:
Most diversity, equity and inclusion conversations overlook a talented group of people who are often misunderstood and underrepresented: those who are blind or visually impaired and/or have a disability.
Across Kansas, there are nearly 70,000 people who are blind or visually impaired. We expect that number to continue to grow, especially within the aging population. Envision is an organization that strives to improve the quality of life and provide opportunities for these individuals.
In addition to being one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation, we support about 185 individuals per month or 2,220 people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired in the state of Kansas annually through various vision rehabilitation, support services and educational programs.
These individuals deserve the same opportunities as anyone else. Which is why it is more crucial than ever to break down stereotypes and build understanding.
Read the full opinion article online by clicking here.
About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or have low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, 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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