The Behind-the-Scenes Workforce Supporting Our Nation During COVID-19

Employee who is blind packing boxes

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation, Americans feel a deep sense of gratitude to the healthcare workers, grocery clerks, and other essential services providers on the frontlines who are prioritizing the health and safety of their communities on a daily basis. Yet behind those on the frontlines stands another workforce that makes those jobs possible, comprised of employees from an unexpected segment of the population – people who are blind.

Each day, people who are blind working at NIB associated nonprofit agencies produce essential products for hospitals, health care professionals, first responders, and governments at all levels. Amid this pandemic, they are proud to continue that work in support of their local communities and the nation at large.

Employees at NIB associated agencies are responding to the national emergency in myriad ways. Austin Lighthouse in Texas is operating almost around-the-clock to meet the exploding national demand for cleaning products. Outlook Nebraska is working overtime to address shortfalls in the toilet paper supply. Employees at The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, in Rochester, New York, are answering the barrage of calls coming into the region’s crisis hotline. And IBVI in Milwaukee is assembling kits for the Army that are being used to build COVID-19 treatment centers.

People who are blind are also doing their part to keep America’s armed forces supplied during this crisis, providing critical products like the helmets and uniforms soldiers wear every day as National Guard units are deployed around the country. And they are helping to maintain continuity and availability of essential services for our nation’s veterans, operating switchboards for medical centers run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and manufacturing prescription bottles for VA hospitals and pharmacies.

NIB and its associated agencies have been a reliable line of defense for the nation since 1938. From World War II through the Persian Gulf War and now in the fight against COVID-19, people who are blind working in NIB associated agencies are committed to serving our country in times of need. Whether it be through the provision of high-quality supplies like personal protective equipment and cleaning products, or providing outstanding professional services, they continue to answer the call.