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Today we announced the successful launch of a new joint program that integrates employees who are blind or visually impaired into the workforce with our partner, IFB Solutions, a non-profit organization that provides employment, training, and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. Seventy percent of working-age adults who are blind or visually impaired face sustained periods of unemployment throughout their lifetimes. This program will help address that challenge through an inclusive workplace that supports the needs and experiences of our sight-impaired colleagues.

“We value individual differences and strive to provide a work setting and experience where all employees can thrive,” said Michelle Link, Chief Human Resources Officer, Maximus. “For several years, Maximus has been focused on capacity-building opportunities, such as this partnership with IFB Solutions, to expand our potential pool of new employees and help us build an effective and inclusive workforce. Thanks to the perseverance of many, advances in technology, and an experienced partner in IFB Solutions, we’ve built an employment and training program aimed specifically at those who are blind or visually impaired. We’re excited to welcome these new employees to the Maximus team.”

Six people completed the initial pilot training in Texas and are now supporting Maximus as Customer Service Representatives on contracts that deliver government services and share information with the general public. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB Solutions leveraged its experience to create a targeted training program with Maximus for this cohort of employees. The training program lasted six weeks and was managed jointly by IFB Solutions and the Maximus Texas Project Team. The preparations focused on developing the skills needed for the employees to meet the job requirements, with an emphasis on learning the unique technologies developed to assist them.

“People are at the center of everything we do, as our mission is to empower people who are blind,” said Shannon Satterfield, Director of Professional Services, IFB Solutions. “Maximus has shown itself as a leader in this area by working with us to create this new program that provides the empowerment of employment to people who deserve it. We are so proud of every person who completed the training, as they persevered through early challenges to accomplish something that would have been impossible only a few years ago.”

Building on the success of the first class of employees, Maximus and IFB Solutions are training a second cohort of individuals and plan to expand the pilot program across the country in 2023. Employees from the inaugural class joined the second session to share their experiences, provide tips and encouragement, and mentor their peers.

The employees who successfully completed the initial training and are now Customer Service Representatives include:

  • Maggie V.: “Before the opportunity to work for IFB Solutions in partnership with Maximus, I had no prior call center experience. But because of the accessible training, I’ve learned so much in so little time. This opportunity has been a life-changing experience for my kids and I, and it has allowed me to regain my confidence.”
  • Mary A.: “My passion is making sure that those who are visually impaired can live the best life possible. This program has given me a chance to do that, and it’s a welcome opportunity for this community.”
  • Elias T.: “It brings me joy and satisfaction to serve and provide clients with the information they need. I appreciate the work that Maximus and IFB Solutions put into the training to give me a new job and a new future.”
  • Ruben R.: “This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Maximus means the world to me. It is both a joy and honor to be a part of a team as unique as mine.”

About IFB Solutions

IFB Solutions is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. Today, IFB strives to be America’s leader in building life-changing opportunities for people who are blind through its mission of creating employment opportunities for this critically underemployed population. IFB’s guiding principles focus on creating upwardly mobile career paths, building on its existing textile operations to develop integrated and technical employment opportunities, and maintaining a strong foundation of packaging and assembly operations as workforce entry points. IFB’s operational footprint includes large-scale manufacturing, Base Supply Center retail and online stores, Workforce Services staffing division, and its Pinnacle Mercantile Amazon storefront. IFB Solutions also provides essential job training for employees and community outreach through its Community Low Vision Centers and programming for children who are blind.