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State Seal Workforce Investment, Department for
State service helps Kentuckian retain job after vision loss
Press Release Date:  August 10, 2004
Contact:  Kim Saylor Brannock
(502) 564-6606
KimS.Brannock@ky.gov
 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 10, 2004) — When Walter Tyler began to lose his vision in December 2002, he had no idea that he would be on medical disability by spring. He also didn’t know that the Kentucky Office for the Blind (OFB) would have services that could get him back on the job and off disability in just nine days.

“Without the Department for the Blind, I would still be out of work. I was back to work being productive and being a taxpayer again,” Tyler said.

The agency is now called Office for the Blind and is housed in the Education Cabinet under the Department for Workforce Investment.

Even though the Paducah resident was not cured of his condition, he was able to return to his same job as an engineering supervisor in Computer Services Inc.’s (CSI) Telecommunications Department with the use of assistive technology for his computer. OFB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Ron Devillez with the Paducah OFB office and Assistive Technology Specialist Dorothy Brame with the Bowling Green OFB office, came to Tyler’s house and assessed his needs and then they brought in low-vision aids such as a computer screen magnifier and a text-to-speech converter.

Tyler said, “99 percent of my job involves the use of a PC. Dorothy introduced me to electronics that allowed me to utilize a PC and some electronic aids so that I could read documents. I was now able to work and my company was willing to retain me.”

CSI Vice President of Human Resources Bill Perrin said they were not optimistic at first that Tyler could return to work but then the OFB staff showed them products that helped him do his job. Devillez and Brame recommended an assistive technology vendor who could replicate the equipment they installed at Tyler’s home and he was soon back on the job.

Devillez said he was glad to see that CSI was willing to work with OFB to keep Tyler. Often time employers are not aware available technology or they think it will take too much time, money or trouble to make a worksite accessible to someone who is blind, he said. In addition to assistive technology, OFB offers orientation and mobility training, low-vision aids, counseling and medical services to help someone keep a job.

“Who wants to lose an employee that you’ve trained and spent time on? There’s really not too many jobs that we can’t salvage,” Devillez said.

Tyler had worked at CSI, which provides technology products and services to banks across the nation, since 1996. He had a wealth of experience and knowledge from his former job as a telecommunication consultant at a telephone company in New York City for 20 years. He also had a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of California and had been a pilot in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

“It was not that much of an investment to keep someone of Walt’s quality. It was well worth the expense. Employers need to be aware that there are new technologies to help the disabled that we are not familiar with. It was worth the effort. It was just one phone call to keep an experienced and highly dedicated employee,” Perrin said.

Devillez credits both the employer and Tyler for the successful outcome. “One reason it was such a success is Walter fully participated. He didn’t hesitate to get involved. He jumped right in to get things done and made changes,” Devillez said.

Perrin said the company had a good experience with OFB and would recommend the department’s services to other employers. “We (employers) don’t know what products are out there. Take the time to investigate any reasonable accommodation. It was one phone call and it was done in a couple of weeks,” he said.

The Education Cabinet coordinates learning programs from K-16, and manages and supports training and employment functions in the Department for Workforce Investment. For more information about our programs, visit www.educationcabinet.ky.gov or www.workforce.ky.gov or call 502-564-6606.






 

Last updated: Tuesday, August 10, 2004