Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive October 2015 Show 1543 Working in a Sighted World

Working in a Sighted World

Individuals with disabilities receive training to be self-sufficient and prosper in the workplace.
Working in a Sighted World

Working in a Sighted World

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Francis Tuttle Technology Center


Americans with Disabilities Act

Show Details

Show 1543: Working in a Sighted World
Air Date: October 25, 2015



Rob McClendon: Department of Labor statistics show that roughly two-thirds of working-age people with disabilities remain out of the workforce, numbers that are not that different when Congress adopted the ADA in 1990, a failure that several groups in the state are working to change. Our J.D. Rosman starts us off.

J.D. Rosman: Slice and dice – all by feel, and not by sight.

Callie Chappell: I really enjoy coming to work because everyone is very positive.

J.D.: A chef at Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Tutts Café, Callie Chappell lost her sight from a retina disease several years ago.

Keith Hubble: She can do it all.

J.D.: Keith Hubble is one of the lead cooks at Tutts Café who taught culinary skills to Callie as a student.

Hubble: I’ve never worked with anybody like Callie before.

J.D.: A challenge no doubt. But today, Callie is right there with the best of them.

Chappell: My least favorite job in the kitchen is probably peeling potatoes. I don’t really look forward to doing that but I have to.

Hubble: She’s been great. She’s here every day on time, one of my best employees.

J.D.: Yet unemployment is high among the visually impaired. According to the National Federation of the Blind, 60 percent of vision impaired workers are actively unemployed.

(Nats of Harvey walking with cane)

J.D.: In downtown Oklahoma City, Michael Harvey teaches lessons he knows well.

Michael Harvey: I’m going to empower them by teaching them the tools.

J.D.: Training other visually impaired on how to be self-sufficient.

Harvey: How to get basic directions. How to problem-solve. If you get stuck by a construction zone how do you get around it?

J.D.: Equipping others with transferable skills that can make them more marketable in the workforce.

Harvey: One of the problems with blind people finding jobs is a lack of training. Many blind people don’t have the opportunity or don’t take the chance to go get the blindness skills training that they need. So therefore, they are more reliant on people than is probably feasible for them to be as independent or as employable as they need to be.

J.D.: Rob Slaughterbeck, a student of Harvey’s, knows all too well that finding a job can be difficult.

Rob Slaughterbeck: I actually have a bachelor’s in industrial engineering and a master’s in business. Even with that, I attended several job interviews face-to-face, they liked me, everything went great but never would receive a phone call. Eventually after months and months of that going on that really starts to wear on you, and you get depressed and questioning your own abilities.

J.D.: Which is why Slaughterbeck is working with Harvey, all in an effort to be seen for more than blind.

Slaughterbeck: The biggest thing is just treat them like you would any of your sighted friends. And if you would hold the door open for your friends, hold the door open; if you wouldn’t, don’t. We’re not special people; we just want to be treated like people in general.

J.D.: And while working in a sighted world can be difficult, breaking through stereotypes might be the biggest challenge.

Slaughterbeck: For myself, I know I learn from making mistakes. If people stop me from making a mistake then the next time I’m more apt to make that same mistake again.

J.D.: An attitude of self-reliance that employers like Kevin Hubble says inspires him every day.

Hubble: It’s not that hard. It’s not that scary. You would be surprised most people really, can really shock you in that nature. Prove something, you know, that they can produce like everyone else they can work like everyone else. I mean there is no difference.