Society for the Blind recently received $15,000 from the MUFG Union Bank Foundation to provide alternative independent living and employment skills for youth and working-age adults with vision loss so they can continue their career paths or begin employment. The grant will fund the group’s employment services that include its core blindness skills program and its CareersPLUS program with tracks for youth and adults.
“Though unemployment skyrocketed during the pandemic, most people are surprised to hear that unemployment for people with vision loss has been a whopping 70 percent for decades,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “At Society for the Blind, we always say that people with vision loss can still do almost anything they want – they just have to adapt to do it another way. The same is true in the workplace. We are grateful to the MUFG Union Bank Foundation for helping us expand our employment training skills so we can raise the number of people with vision loss who are gainfully employed.”
Through its core blindness skills program, Society for the Blind offers orientation and mobility training to help people navigate with and without a white cane, computers and assistive technology training, Braille literacy, and alternative techniques for cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. Society for the Blind’s CareersPLUS program includes tracks for youth and adults, providing comprehensive, age-appropriate career readiness, career exploration activities, workshops and a mentor program for teens and young adults experiencing vision loss. Society for the Blind has been expanding its employment-readiness program for youth and working-age adults, even more rapidly when the pandemic hit and services became remote. In addition to its in-house programs, the group is now partnering with the Blind Institute of Technology in Colorado.
“Helping provide these adaptive skills greatly enhances the opportunities for success in career and life for these individuals,” said Ashley Abenoja-Bocek, MUFG Union Bank Foundation relationship manager for Northern California. “Additionally, this assists the business communities with developing qualified local talent to meet their growing needs.”
For 67 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.
The MUFG Union Bank Foundation strives to builder stronger communities around the world in providing financial and volunteer resources and business expertise in the areas of affordable housing, community economic and youth development, social services and environmental stewardship. Initiatives include strengthening diversity, inclusion and social justice programs in many communities served.