THE VOICE
Vision · Opportunities · Innovation · Choices · Expertise.
Oregon Commission for the Blind, February 2022
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE

The Commission for the Blind’s vision statement is “Blindness without barriers: A state of inclusion for Oregonians with vision loss.” This edition of The Voice begins 2022 with stories featuring partnerships that help ensure Oregonians who are blind are able to fully engage in life.
 
Whether it is engaging in a collaboration with the Oregon Department of Transportation on critical safety considerations in their project design or getting the word out about the Portland Art Museum's efforts to ensure accessible art installations, we are busy at work to lend our expertise and expand opportunities for Oregonians who are blind.
 
As our economy responds to a shortage of workers, our Business Relations Coordinators have been providing education and technical assistance to employers and partners to support the employment of job seekers who are blind. We are also helping entrepreneurs who are blind to adjust to changes in public building populations by shifting their food/service vending offerings that maintain their profitability and level of service for their customers.
 
I hope you enjoy this first edition of The Voice for 2022. We look forward to a strong year of reopening and recovery for our state and for our agency!
Strategic Plan Development for 2022 - 2025 Underway
Under the direction of the Commission for the Blind, the agency is working on the Strategic Plan for 2022-25. Our strategic plan guides our policy and resource decisions for the next few years. The current priorities under consideration by the Commission are:
  • Service Equity             
  • Aging Oregonians
  • Specialized Staff
  • Diverse Workforce       
  • Good Government
Your suggestions and feedback are welcome and important. Please let us know your thoughts at ocb.mail@ocb.oregon.gov
OCB Partners with ODOT on Accessible Design
Close up photo of someone's feet and white cane tip, which runs along a textured surface placed on pavement to aid in way-finding.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation’s Region 1 recently sought input from OCB regarding a design feature for their Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project.

Their question related to a tactile walking surface indicator (bumps that identify the boundaries and pathways for those with vision loss) in the newly designed bus stops. These bus stops integrate bike lane traffic that intersects with bus passenger boarding/offboarding. We were able to work with O&Ms (Orientation and Mobility Instructors) who conduct research in this area, and support OOT in their planning decision.
Unattended Food Service Trend in Government Facilities
Photo of micro market walls lined with colorful rows of baskets of snacks and a refrigerated cooler for drinks.
The Commission for the Blind’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) continues to assist our licensed vending facility managers by installing micro-markets in many government facilities. As building populations have significantly changed, cafeterias and snack bars have struggled to remain profitable.

What is a Micro-market?

Micro-markets provide snacks and beverages found in vending machines, but also offer fresh food items and specialty products such as sandwiches soups and salads, as well as gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan options. Items are made ahead of time, often in the kitchen adjacent to the micro-market, and prepackaged. Customers may browse the selection and make their purchase using a self-service kiosk and paying with a credit or debit card. These unstaffed markets can operate 24/7 and allow building employees to remain on-site during lunch- and break-times and eat a healthy meal or snack.

Micro-markets were a popular food service alternative prior to the pandemic, but now they have become an essential service-delivery model. The installation of a micro-market also permits flexibility so that, if a building population were to grow significantly, the cafeteria or snack bar can reopen, and the micro-market would continue to provide after-business-hours food options.
Business Relations Program Partners Lunch and Learn
Helping the business community understand the benefits of partnering with Oregon’s Commission for the Blind (OCB) and hiring OCB clients is one of the agency’s top priorities. OCB’s Business Relations Team has been hard at work making sure that happens!
 
Tuesday, February 15th, OCB Business Relations Coordinators Molly James and Morgan Rincon presented to business partners as part of a newly formed disability awareness Lunch & Learn series, hosted in partnership with OCB and Vocational Rehabilitation Business Service teams.
 
The topic was “Blind Etiquette and Awareness” and featured an overview on the spectrum of vision loss, language and courtesies, assistive technologies, diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, and job accommodation resources. Thirty-eight business partners attended including Amazon, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, First Call Resolution, City of Redmond, Legacy Health, Lane County, Southern Oregon Community College, WorkSystems Inc., the Bureau of Land Management and more.
 
Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions on accommodation, how to hire OCB clients and where they could learn more.
 
The Lunch & Learn series provides a place for business leaders to learn and connect with OCB/Voc. Rehab. experts, network with other business professionals, and develop strategies to recruit, hire and retain individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Lunch and Learn training events take place on the third Tuesday of every other month from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. For more information, please reach out to our Business Relations Coordinators at business.relations@ocb.oregon.gov
Aira and NFB Make At-Home Covid Testing Accessible
Photograph of a person holding their rapid home Covid test in front of their mobile phone.
Because at-home Covid tests rely on visual interpretation, in January the human-to-human live professional assistance service Aira announced a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. Together they are making Covid-19 at-home testing more accessible for the blind.

Residents of the United States may call Aira and receive professional visual interpreting assistance with any type of Covid-19 rapid antigen or PCR home test. To learn more, visit https://aira.io/nfb-sponsors-testing/
Accessible Art Opportunities at Portland Art Museum
Logo of Portland Art Museum's "Art Unbound" podcast
Although the Portland Art Museum's Sensing Art tours are on pause, they are working to increase their content's accessibility in several ways:

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