Group to hold meeting on hiring the blind Blind Industries hopes to educate employers

Job placement

October 27, 1997|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Hoping to boost job opportunities for the visually disabled, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland is planning its first meeting offering companies information on advantages of hiring the blind.

"We want to tell employers that blind people with the right training and opportunity can be competent, long-term employees in entry-level positions," said Buffa Hanse, a job-placement specialist with the nonprofit group.

Those attending the Nov. 12 breakfast meeting at Blind Industries, 2901 Strickland St. in Southwest Baltimore, will hear about free services in "partnerships" offered companies hiring the blind, she said.

One is computer training for blind hires. Another is a Blind Industries job coach who will temporarily accompany newly hired workers to their workplaces and help them get adjusted to their new jobs -- and even return if the job is changed.

Hanse said she would put the new employee's fellow workers at ease by going to the job site and telling them about working with a blind person.

At the meeting, she said, she will also discuss "down-to-earth nTC specifics" on topics such as tax credits for employers; hiring and firing the employees; and use of the national listing "Job Opportunities for the Blind."

Hanse, who is legally blind, said she uses aids such as computers with speech ability and Braille. She said she would explain that because visually impaired people range from totally blind to varying levels of sight, "everyone needs a tool bag" with means useful to them.

Others who will speak and answer questions at the breakfast include J. R. Helmstetter, a totally blind collections agent for the state of Maryland, his supervisor and staffers from the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, a co-sponsor of the meeting.

There are about 750,000 blind people in the country, Hanse said. The number of legally blind people increases by about 50,000 a year, and about 65 percent are 65 or older.

Hanse said the meeting is the beginning of a program called NET -- for New Employment Traditions at Work -- and that she hoped it would begin to make a reality of that slogan.

"We hope to begin turning the national statistic upside down: Only 30 percent of blind people are now employed in the competitive world, while 70 percent are unemployed or underemployed."

For information about the 7: 30 a.m. breakfast, call Hanse at 410-233-4567, Ext. 319.

Pub Date: 10/27/97

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