Press release from IFB Solutions:
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — IFB Solutions, the country’s largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired, recently received a $20,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina for job training in its Asheville facility. The grant, which came from the foundation’s Human Services Grant Program, is being used to support a paid training program for people with visual impairments, which includes training in sewing, orientation, mobility, the use of assistive technology, and independent living skills.
“Almost 90% of our employees who are blind would not have a job if not for IFB Solutions, and training is the key to that employment. This grant helps our employees increase their income and support themselves and their families,” said Randy Buckner, vice president of operations support at IFB Solutions. “We are grateful to The Community Foundation for their support.”
A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing employment, training and services for people who are visually impaired or blind, IFB Solutions operates three manufacturing facilities in Asheville, Winston-Salem, and Little Rock, Arkansas. The Asheville facility employs more than 137 people, about half of whom are blind or visually impaired. The Community Foundation grant will be used to provide paid training for new employees as well as retraining for those already employed so they can pursue more advanced, upward mobility opportunities. The paid job training is especially important for those who may have recently lost their sight and are looking to reenter the workforce.
Ed Smith, an employee at IFB Solutions who is visually impaired, is one of many workers to benefit from IFB’s job training program. “I worked on computers for 20 years before losing my vision,” Smith said. “After losing my vision, I was told that applying for disability was my only option. IFB Solutions showed me that it isn’t true. Thanks to IFB Solutions’ job training program and assistive technology, I am back to a career that I love. Plus, I get to help manufacture products for our federal government and the U.S. Armed Forces — and I’m proud of that work.”