December 7, 2022

Blind workers acquire skills to join the labor market

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Scott Wilson is blind but has light perception.

“That’s why I wear sunglasses because the light bothers my eyes,” he said.

But he still manages to work in that warehouse, lifting boxes and processing orders for supplies destined for Florida government agencies.

“Where it gets tricky is when there’s a lot of boxes or clutter. You have to use your cane and smell around you. Pretty much when you know where you are, it’s moving forward right away,” Wilson said.

This warehouse is part of the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind in New Port Richey.

It brings income to the organization but is also a training ground.

“There is a huge unemployment rate for people who are visually impaired or blind, so we really try to give them the skills they need to be employed and to let employers know that they are fully capable of performing tasks. and make sure they get them. jobs they need,” said Stefanie Pontlitz, CEO of Lighthouse.

Marlys Newhouse also works in the warehouse.

“I’ve had macular degeneration most of my life,” Newhouse said.

She uses this magnifying glass to read purchase orders.

“Here is the number of garbage bags we must have. So, I’ll tell Scott the number, and he’ll come down and smell the braille, and then I’ll tell him how much we need,” she said.

“They can do almost anything as long as you don’t ask them to drive. It does a lot for their self-esteem. Yes, it’s great for their wallet because now they can pay their rent and they don’t have to live at home anymore. But to see them light up. They really want to work,” Pontlitz said.

Not only does Scott work, but he trains others to be able to do the same.

He said there are many opportunities to work from home if blind people learn to use technology.

“They are amazing employees. Worker. Loyal. I couldn’t ask for better staff,” said Pontlitz.