Skip to main content
Blog

An Inside Look Through the Lens of ABC News WZZM

PORTAGE, Mich — As she hums her favorite tune, Patty Ross is putting in another hard day's work. It's something she's done for the past 20 years and her blindness has not stopped her one bit.

"Too many people in our world think that blind people aren't capable of doing jobs like this," says Ross.

Focus Forward's fulfillment center in Portage has figured that out. The company saw there was a real need for employers to give opportunities to those with disabilities. 

"Nationwide, it's a 70 percent unemployment rate for folks that are blind or visually impaired, who are of working age and want to work," says Jonathan Kraker of Focus Forward.

The Portage facility employs 26 individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to packaging, some blind employees assemble furniture.

"Using the power tools, somebody who is blind or visually impaired being able to use the power tools and build the furniture from beginning to end. Typically, people go 'wait a second, why someone who is blind using a power tool.' But they do and they do it incredibly effective, our employees," says Kraker.

And if you think these hard working employees aren't making competitive wages, think again.

"All of our employees start at above minimum wage. They're starting at 10 plus dollars an hour and that's starting wage," says Kraker.