Local

August 17, 2012

Program enables disabled to serve on base

Tags:
Story and photo by Airman 1st Class GRACE LEE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Loraine Ayres, Focus Works customer service representative, works on her computer using a closed caption television system at Focus Works on Luke Air Force Base. The CCTV allows Ayres to magnify the image on the screen to better identify the information she is processing.

With the economy struggling, it’s competitive enough for those without a disability to find a job. Fortunately, there is a program available that helps nonprofit organizations hire disabled workers.

The AbilityOne Program helps nearly 48,000 Americans who are blind or have other disabilities to not only find employment but lead more productive and independent lives, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security website, azdes.gov.

At Luke Air Force Base, there are two agencies that fall under the AbilityOne Program: Arizona Industries for the Blind and The Centers for Habilitation.

The agency AIB, known as Focus Works here, employs workers whose tasks range from stocking shelves, keeping track of inventory and market research to providing Airmen the necessary items needed prior to a deployment.

“Fifty percent of our employees in the store are legally blind,” said Carlos Paraskevas, AIB community relations. “In total, 75 percent of the AIB workforce are blind or visually impaired.”

“Most people who walk through the doors don’t even know the employees are blind until they look at their monitor and see that the cursor is big,” said Bernie Richardson, Focus Works store manager. “I know that when not working they still enjoy activities such as kayaking, bike riding, softball, hiking and rock climbing.”

Richardson said that though the employees are blind, it doesn’t mean they all have the same level of blindness.

“The vision of some is cloudy, some don’t have peripheral vision, they are all different,” he said. “For that reason, the state of Arizona provides a vocational rehab counselor whose job is to come in and see what adaptive technology would apply to the individual.”

Depending on the individual’s needs, the technology differs. Some have a closed caption television system which magnifies the image on the screen, while others have hand-held magnifiers or glasses that are custom made to the person, Richardson said.

Focus Works puts a big emphasis on helping their employees be independent, but their main mission is to help the wing.

“We support the wing and the people on base by providing equipment and supplies that are needed no matter what time of day it is,” Richardson said.

Similar to how AIB operates, TCH also employs those with disabilities.

“We have a team of 27 janitors who have disabilities that range from being deaf, sight impaired, autistic, to having cerebral palsy,” said Christina Dominguez, TCH project manager.

According to Dominguez they work seven days a week and have three shifts a day.

“We service approximately 160 of the buildings at Luke, which is almost 500,000 square feet,” she said.

Even though the employees have a disability, it doesn’t stop them from doing what they are tasked to do.

“When the employees are first hired, we take the time to find out what their disability is and how we can help them succeed while at the same time still getting what we need done,” she said. “To do this, we spend a lot of time training them and meeting with them one-on-one. I like to ask them how they’re doing on a daily basis.”

For Dominguez, the employees aren’t just people who help keep the base clean, but they are people who truly make a difference by bringing a smile to someone’s face.

“Our employees come to work cheerful and happy,” she said. “And it’s great when I get a call from someone saying how helpful and friendly they are, since our sole mission is to not only employ people with disabilities but also to provide quality service to the base. No matter the job, we want to make sure it is top quality.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Grace Lee

Pilot saves six Marines earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor

Grace Lee Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, pins the Air Force Combat Action Medal onto Capt. Aaron Cavazos, 61st Fighter Squadron weapons officer, Jan. 16 in Club Five Six at Luke Air Force Base. Cavazos was...
 
 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to fight the Nazis, Airmen...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are rapidly approaching. We expect...
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Chrach saves lives, earns recognition

Courtesy Photo Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Chrach, 56th SFS MWD, pose for a photo in Afghanistan during their 2012 deployment. Chrach was recently awarded the 12th A...
 
 

News Briefs January 23, 2015

VH1 concert VH1 and sponsors supporting the event are hosting a Super Bowl Blitz concert featuring Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX at 5 p.m. Jan. 30 in Hangar 999 as a “Thank you” to those who serve in the U.S. military. Members of the Luke community are invited and the concert is free. Service...
 
 
Courtesy Photo

Civilian answers AF call, gets dream job

Courtesy Photo Senior Airman Kristina Inocencio, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron engineer technician, measures the distance from the tree to the building Jan. 15 during survey training at Luke Air Force Base. One of Inocencio’s ...
 




One Comment


  1. Lisa Kraemer

    I am the newest co-worker over at Luke BSC and it is such a priviledge to work here. My boss Bernard Richardson is friendly and down to earth and treats us like any other sighted employee. Loraine, Shannon, Rick and Jerry and I are all visually challenged but we get the job done and are proud to serve our military. Our store is well known for our friendly customer service because a smile doesn’t require much no matter your disablility or circumstance. Bill, Paul, Sheryl and Allen help make our store function as well as it does. It’s a great balance to join us together and make us strive to be all we can for our servicemen and women here at Luke and abroad.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin