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NewView: Blind Student Training

NewView Oklahoma empowers those who are blind and visually impaired to achieve their maximum level of independence.
NewView: Blind Student Training

NewView: Blind Student Training

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Freedom Scientific

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Show Details

Show 1724: NewView: Blind Student Training
Air Date: June 11, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, losing your eyesight can mean a lot of difficult changes to your way of life, especially your career. But one nonprofit is working to help the legally blind adapt their skills and learn new ones to keep their prosperity and their dignity. Blane Singletary shares this insight.

Blane Singletary: David Anderson hasn’t been able to see for most of his adult life.

David Anderson: I was 18 years old, I was on a construction site, nail guns hadn’t been out that long, and a nail gun actually blew up in my face.

Blane: David was blinded instantly, but the reality of the situation didn’t sink in until much later.

Anderson: Cause I asked the doctor after surgery and all that, “When, you know, what’s gonna happen to me, what’s going on? Tell me straight.” He said, “You’ll never see again.” Because I had family people around, so I said, “OK, where can I find an organ grinder and a monkey?” You know, you’re trying to have some levity there ’cause how do you take something like that?

Blane: He took it the only way he could, by continuing business as usual. He found work wherever he could to support himself and his son. But other than that, David says he shut himself away from the rest of the world and kept to himself.

Anderson: I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I wanted to come to work. I wanted to feel, you know, “Hey, I’m doing something.” But I didn’t want people to know me. I didn’t want ‘em to notice, “Well, that’s him, he’s the blind guy.”

Blane: And that was life, as he accepted it. It would be decades before David ever found someone who didn’t just want to employ him, but to help him.

Anderson: I received a flier for donating to this company for the blind. Nobody had ever told me there was another blind person in this state, ever.

Blane: David was very skeptical, but after talking with them over the phone, he took a tour of the factory and was surprised at what he found.

Anderson: I was shocked, and then before I left, they asked if I’d like to fill out an application. All those years went by, and I relied on what I could do out of my own shop to make money because nobody would hire me – for any reason. The first thing they notice is your blindness. When they offered me to fill out a job application I said, “Wow, really?!” and that’s the first time, you know, I felt like I fit in somewhere.

Blane: NewView Oklahoma is a nonprofit manufacturing company who supports and employs the legally blind. Otherwise, they’re just like any other manufacturer. Dennis Loney is the vice president of business development and operations.

Dennis Loney: This business is no different than any manufacturing concern. We have to buy low, sell high – do it as efficiently as possible. We have to put out quality products at a competitive price. We over-accommodate for accessibility issues for our employees to be able to do a job.

Blane: Every machine in this building is enriched with adaptive technology, meant to suit people at varying stages of blindness – from complete blindness in David Anderson’s case to partial blindness in the case of Adam Higby.

Adam Higby: I was actually born with a disease called optic nerve dystrophy. I can see better, you know, but as I’ve gotten older it’s gotten far worse.

Blane: He took classes at Francis Tuttle Technology Center to learn precision and CNC machining and ways that even someone with very limited vision can pursue careers in this field.

Higby: You’re limited to your imagination. I mean, that’s just the honest truth. But currently, we do a lot of engraving, some automotive parts, we make these coasters that we’ve been working on and a lot of engraving on this machine.

Blane: While he learned this alternate way to do things, Adam says, he honestly doesn’t know if he’s got it easier or harder than others.

Higby: I honestly don’t know. I don’t have any basis for comparison because I don’t know otherwise, you know. It’s not easy; you just have to find a way to adapt.

Blane: The adaptive technology on this machine is just one example of the ways accessibility has been taken into account. Sometimes something as simple as a smartphone camera can be enough to make small text and details more visible. But for others here, it can be a bit more extensive than that.

Elmer Norton: Being blind is a learning process.

Blane: Elmer Norton is in charge of managing the orders, the stock and the raw materials at NewView. He has macular degeneration, steadily losing his eyesight since high school

Norton: You have to learn how to adapt to everyday life, but in a different way. It made my life a lot difficult, but I’ve had a good life, a real good life.

Blane: Thanks to adaptive technology, like Magic and JAWS, he can run this whole department and easily run other computers all over NewView’s offices.

[Computer Voice: Douglas Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK, 73106].

Norton: Two years ago, I knew nothing about a computer. You know, I’ve learned how to get to anywhere, I mean, anywhere on here.

Blane: NewView may be much like any other business, but it gives these visually impaired people a lot more than a job – it gives them dignity and pride. Again, Adam Higby.

Higby: At least for me, I raise, I’m raising a 7-year-old son almost by myself and to show him, “Hey, my dad’s doing this with the hand that he’s been dealt, then that means with my vision being 20/20, that I can do anything I want.” You have to want something, that’s just the honest truth. You have to want it. And if you don’t want, you’re gonna get what you get – nothin’.