BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Known for bringing resources to the visually impaired, local nonprofit Valley Center for the Blind is bringing even more resources to the central valley.
“This new program, that we bring in partnership with an incredible organization called world services for the blind, creates accessible industry standard certification paths for people who are blind,” said Shellena Heber, CEO of Valley Center for the Blind.
Heber said because of the pandemic VCB was able to make its programs remote, which created an opportunity to add more training programs like call center specialists, certified medical billing reps and many more.
“One of the things that can be really challenging for people who are blind, who are looking to be professionals in any field, is this idea of accessibility.”
Heber said that is where the center steps in, by having classes to teach the visually impaired how to use computers, orientation mobility, and assistive technology.
Here in the central valley, there are 60,000 people experiencing vision loss. One of those people is Jason Smith. A former VCB participant turned instructor.
“There are so many gaps in opportunities for blind and low vision individuals to have employment. This is just going to help better their skills, not only as blind and low vision individuals, but get certified in high marketing certificates to get these high value jobs.”
Heber said that for those who want to be certified, a lot of the training will take place.
Still, she and Smith understand it's hard to take that first step but firmly believe that it is worth it.
“I’ll do everything I can to not get emotional, but dealing with low vision and blindness myself, having the opportunity to live a productive life once again, to feel the independence, to collect the paycheck, is something that has not only changed my life but my children too. Now I’m in a position where I can offer the same hope to other people,” said Smith.