Oklahoma city, ok
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but for some non-profits like NewView Oklahoma, every day is dedicated to creating accessible jobs for Oklahomans with disabilities. Since 1949, NewView Oklahoma has worked to create jobs for Oklahomans who are blind or low vision in a variety of fields from manufacturing to technology, customer service to financial accounting, and more. Stable employment offers levels of independence to individuals who are blind or have low vision that they may have believed to be out of reach due to their disability. Employment allows individuals to take control of their lives and their future, and realize dreams of supporting a family, owning a home, and achieving true financial freedom. That is why NewView Oklahoma offers a diverse and competitive set of career opportunities for all levels of ability and interest. NewView is proud to employ director and senior level professionals who have disabilities and believes that a diverse and inclusive workplace is more than just a headline, it is in the organization’s framework. As an extension of their advocacy efforts, NewView is encouraging every employer across the state to reconsider their approach to accessibility in the workplace.
Mark Ivy, NewView Oklahoma’s Development Manager, and client of twelve years, stated, “We are the largest employer of people who are blind or have low vision in the state of Oklahoma. In an ideal world, ten years from now, I hope that’s not the case. Because that means we are getting opportunities throughout our community, throughout our state, throughout the Nation to work for a living just like anyone else would. And a huge leading partner in that is Arvest.”
NewView was recently afforded the opportunity to partner with Arvest Bank on their ArBilities initiative. Arvest’s Executive Vice President and Regional Manager, Brad Krieger, visited NewView on site at their Oklahoma City based low vision clinic for an immersive “Experience Blindness” exercise. Krieger spent the afternoon learning basic cane travel and orientation and mobility skills from Jacob Murphy, one of NewView’s Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS), and baked brownies and learned about assistive technology like CCTVs and screen readers with Anita Miller, a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) at NewView.
When asked if he felt like he would not be able to complete any of the tasks set before him throughout the exercise, Krieger responded, “No, I felt comfortable that you [NewView] would provide the tools to do that. It was out of my comfort zone, but with the right tools I could make it through.”
The request to go through this exercise came as an extension of the ArBilities initiative launched by Arvest Bank. ArBilities is an associate impact group with a mission statement of, “Building inclusive environments on the foundation of awareness, understanding and acceptance for all.” The initiative was founded on the idea that the more intentional we all are about learning and understanding different disabilities, the better the customer service and associate experience will be. Arvest is striving to provide inclusive banking products and services, as evidenced by their recent release of Braille debit cards. Two lines of Braille provide the card number and a third line features the card’s expiration date and three-digit security code.
NewView is proud to act as a community resource for organizations who are investing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility at any level. Arvest is doing important work to build awareness and understanding of not only providing better service to customers with disabilities by anticipating their needs, but also in their hiring practices as they work towards employing candidates who have disabilities.
When asked to describe Arbilities, Krieger stated, “ArBilities is really about the abilities that people have. Whether they are an amputee, they have a sight situation or it is a hearing situation – all of those kinds of things. How do you provide work experiences for people that are different from you and I? It’s understanding that, and opening up opportunities.”
NewView hopes to inspire and support any organization that may have questions about how to make their workplace more accessible. We can help you to create accessible opportunities, conduct workplace assessments, and more.