Arsenal Honored for Hiring Blind and Visually Impaired

November  30, 2012

    A supervisor on Arsenal Island has been honored for her efforts to employ people who are blind or visually impaired. This morning, the National Industries for the Blind gave its Performance Excellence Award to Joan Wysoske - from the local office of the Army Contracting Command.
    Terry Longo, from the Illinois affilliate of the National Industries, The Chicago Lighthouse, says nine people began working at the Arsenal one year ago to close out contracts from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Six of them are legally blind, and they completed work on thousands of contracts, dating back to 2007.
     "We simply make sure the contracts are property signed and executed, all the invoices paid, and the proper signatures obtained, and then we close them out. In many cases we're able to de-obligate the remaining funds and return those funds to the Army."
    And the program was so successful, Longo says the Army will soon double the size of the office, and ask it to close out an additional 100,000 contracts.
    "In addition to software called Zoom Text, if the person is totally blind or has such poor vision they can't read the enlarged print on on the computer screen, there is speech software called Jaws. It'll read what's on the screen to the user."
    Most of these close-out specialists are legally blind, but "wounded warriors," former soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, are also employed.