Maximus Expands Job Training Program for Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Building a Diverse and Talented Workforce

On April 5, Maximus, a government contractor, announced its planned nationwide expansion of a pilot job training program for workers who are blind or visually impaired. The initial pilot lasted for six weeks and was completed by trainees in Texas who became customer service representatives with the company. Maximus collaborated with IFB Solutions, a nonprofit that provides employment, training, and services for people who are blind or visually impaired, to develop the training program.

Maximus’ job training program represents a significant step towards inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Through partnerships with nonprofits and accommodations for visually impaired workers, organizations like Maximus can build diverse and talented workforces that reflect the needs of a changing society.

Aiming to Build Talent Pipeline Among People with Disabilities

Maximus is one of several organizations building talent pipelines through outreach to people with disabilities. The broad push for workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion has seen employers in a variety of fields, ranging from retail logistics to healthcare, implementing job training programs, apprenticeships, and other formats to attract and secure talented individuals.

According to an analysis of data, in 2020, people aged 16 to 64 who were blind or visually impaired had a labor force participation rate of 40%. This low employment rate for people with vision loss occurs because employers “don’t understand how people who are blind or visually impaired can fit in and contribute to the workplace.”

Partnership with nonprofit to develop training program

Maximus’ partnership with IFB Solutions aims to bridge this gap in knowledge by providing job training to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, enabling them to learn new skills and gain employment opportunities. The program is designed to be accessible, flexible, and tailored to the needs of each individual participant.

The training program comprised classroom training as well as hands-on practical experience. Participants received training in areas such as communication skills, customer service, and job-specific requirements related to Maximus’ call center operations. After completing the training, participants were guaranteed an interview with Maximus, giving them valuable employment opportunities and the chance to showcase their skills and abilities.

For many participants, the program represents a transformative experience, providing them with valuable skills, practical experience, and the confidence and self-belief to succeed in the workplace. One participant, who is blind, described the program as “life-changing,” saying that it gave him the opportunity to learn new skills and gain meaningful employment.

Accommodations for visually impaired workers to perform essential job functions

Employers may implement a range of accommodations that can allow workers who are visually impaired to perform the essential functions of a given job. Potential accommodations include technology such as accessible phones, external computer screen magnification, OCR systems, and screen magnification software.

For example, Maximus provided its visually impaired customer service representatives with specialized technology that allowed them to interact with customers effectively. This technology included magnification software, Braille displays, and text-to-speech software.

In addition to technological solutions, there are various cultural norms that employers can encourage to promote positive interactions between people with and without disabilities in the workplace. These norms include fostering an inclusive and supportive workplace culture, understanding and accommodating the unique needs of employees with disabilities, and promoting open and honest communication among all employees.

Maximus’ expansion of its job training program for workers who are blind or visually impaired represents a significant step towards building a diverse and talented workforce that reflects the needs of a changing society. By partnering with nonprofits and implementing accommodations for visually impaired workers, Maximus is paving the way for other organizations to follow suit in pursuing workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion. The success of programs like Maximus’ demonstrates not only the value of building diverse workforces, but also the transformative power of education, training, and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. As society continues to evolve, it is essential that we work towards creating workplaces that are welcoming and inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their background, abilities, or circumstances.

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