WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – IFB Solutions is the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the United States.
One of its three facilities is located in Winston-Salem. Many employees don’t live close by which makes getting to work a challenge. Anastasia Powell, the company’s internal communications manager, says transportation is one of the major challenges for people who are blind or visually impaired.
“People who are sighted – they jump in the car, they zip to work, they come home. People who are blind or visually impaired, there’s a little more steps to that for them,” Powell said.
Employees like Arthur Saunders used the bus system to get to Winston-Salem from Greensboro when he started working at IFB Solutions 18 years ago. His commute was close to two hours each way.
The Winston-Salem Foundation saw the need and stepped in to help. A $40,000 grant allowed IFB Solutions to purchase buses to give more than 90 employees a ride to the job site. Now, it takes riders like Saunders just 30 minutes.
“It just made things so much easier,” Saunders said. “To pick us up at the depot in Greensboro at that one stop, we all gather there. They bring us right to the front door. We get here early and the same thing in reverse. In the evening they grab us right here and they take us right to the depot in Greensboro and then we have our own transportation from there.”
Teresa Norway also rides the bus to and from work each day. She is legally blind after losing most of her vision 23 years ago. Norway started working at IFB Solutions in May as a sewing machine operator. She says a work environment that understands challenges like transportation makes a big difference.
“It’s very difficult, you know, mentally and physically to try to explain what you can see or what you can’t see and get around,” Norway said. “Working at a place where it’s the norm is wonderful.”