Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blog Post 001: IOB Experience

Before entering Industries of the Blind, I had no idea what to expect. The outside of the building seemed so sterile and there were no windows to offer a clue of what was going on inside.  My curiosity led me under a breezeway to the front door and into a small waiting area and reception room.  Through the reception room was a stairway with an interesting “meditation” area, with fake plants and stepping-stones that led to a water fountain. There was also an office chair by the meditation area that suggested employees should sit down and relax. Up the stairs I went and into a landing space with mismatched furniture and through a hallway to my left was a conference room with lots of wood and leather chairs and a large wood conference table. The striped wallpaper and molded ceiling tiles created a more formal look in this room.  At the end of the conference table on the wall was a wood and glass display case that show a few of the items made at Industries of the Blind.  As David LoPresti talked to us about the history of Industries of the Blind as well as what is made there, he passed around pictures of workers and other historic pamphlets and letters that will most likely be incorporated into a display in our redesign of the lobby space. Mr. LoPresti then took us on a tour of the factory facilities and we saw first hand how all of the military supplies are made.  In the first room, we saw hundreds of boxes of military neck guards to be shipped off.  I then realized how important this company is to the military and our country and how productive industries of the blind really is. The next room was filled with workers making shirts for the military at rapid speed and precision. Just thinking that all of these people were visually impaired was even more amazing. Everyone working seemed very happy to be there and proud of the work they were doing.  We then came to a room where military grade pens were being made. Machines were whirring faster than I could comprehend but the workers seemed to assemble the pens with skill and ease. I will never forget the blind man who boxed the pens so quickly and with such a cheerful attitude and smile on his face. We visited other rooms where clipboards, mops, and the neck guards were being made. In the neck guard packaging area, there was a sign that tracked the efficiency of the packaging (which was very impressive). Through all of these sites, I could not help but think how hard it would be for me who has 20/20 vision to do the jobs of these people who are visually impaired. As the tour wrapped up, we went back into the conference room and Mr. LoPresti expressed the need for Industries of the Blind to be a great place to work where workers come in and feel happy and appreciated. He expressed his desire for the community to be welcomed in the building to see what great things are accomplished there. We owe it to the workers of Industries of the Blind to make entering the building a happy, accommodating, and memorable experience.


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