Workplace Accessibility: Welcoming People who are Blind.

By: Mike Mote, Manager of Accessibility and Workforce Development

Are you an employer on the fence about hiring workers who are visually impaired or blind? *It is easier than you think! Let us explain how to set up your business to be inclusive and welcoming to people with disabilities.

Let’s Talk Accessibility at Work with Mike Mote

Photo of Mike Mote sitting at his desk in front of his laptop

I was born blind and spent my entire life defying the odds. As a member of the National Honor Society, I graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications. I worked in commercial radio for 15 years. I quickly learned that I could hold any job I wanted to as long as I understood technology. There is so much available for people who are blind.  In fact, without technology, I wouldn’t have been able to do my current work with Learfield IMG college as a broadcaster with Southern Mississippi football, basketball, and this past season, the Houston Cougars basketball team that reached the final four. Yes, I announced sports highlights in real-time without being able to actually see the game, thanks to technology.  I started my journey with IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country, in 2012. I am now the Manager of Accessibility and Workforce Development.

There is no way that I could perform any of my work without my assistive technology. It allows me to perform my job at the level that is expected by my employer. Without accessible technology, my life would be much less fulfilling.

Do not let this scare you as an employer! Here is some helpful information:

Hesitant About Hiring?

-Technology has leveled the playing field for all, employees, and employers.

-Don’t be afraid of assistive technology and the use of it in your environment. In many cases, the software and hardware needed to perform the job are purchased by a company like ours, or by a state agency. We even train the employee before they start working for you.

-Understand that someone who is blind or visually impaired knows how to utilize their technology and they will bring that experience with them to your workplace.

-Our data shows the retention rate of people who are blind surpasses those with no disability.

Besides Technology, What Can I Do?

-If you are sighted, please announce yourself when entering a room or even passing in the workplace.  For example, “Hey Mike, it’s Ryan”.  It helps those who are blind or have low vision feel comfortable.

-When in a group setting make sure to be clear to whom you are speaking to by using names.  Example “Mike, what do you think of this idea?”

-Do your best to keep all walk paths clear of obstructions.

-If you’re not sure how to help just ask.

Want to learn more? Join us!

Facebook Live Chat with Accessibility and Workforce Development Manager Mike Mote

#GAAD Global Workplace Accessibility Day, May 20th

Thursday, May 20, 2021, at Noon

Ask Mike Questions and learn how you can build an accessible workplace!



Understanding Macular Degeneration

By Dr. Dexter Street, Low Vision Specialist

Dr. StreetFor 36 years I have practiced optometry with an emphasis on low vision. Most of my patients who I work with at IFB Solutions’ Community Low Vision Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, have macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is one of the leading causes of adult sight loss. In fact, more than 10 million Americans have AMD. Here is what you need to know about AMD that can help you or a loved one.

How does macular degeneration impact vision?
Macular degeneration may reduce a person’s ability to see detail, text, and faces. Vision may appear dimmed and include spots, distortion, blurriness, and waviness.

There are TWO types of AMD:
– Dry AMD is caused by compromised blood vessels beneath the macula. These blood vessels can no longer deliver the needed nutrients to the macula nor carry away the waste products.
– Wet AMD occurs when the macula suffers from the lack of nutrition. Therefore, it grows its own blood vessels. These vessels are weak causing them to leak and break very easily allowing blood and other fluids to leak into the macula.

Risk-Factors for developing AMD:
– Smoking or vaping (Current smokers are 2-3X more likely to develop AMD)
– Obesity (2X more likely to develop AMD)
– Age 55+
– Family history of AMD (2.5X higher risk)

Reducing your risk of developing AMD:
– Exercise and eat healthy: dark, leafy greens; fatty fish; avoid processed foods and artificial fats
– If you smoke or vape – stop!
– Get regular eye exams

Dr. Street performs an exam

On the bright side, for most people, having age-related macular degeneration does not mean they will experience complete sight loss. Medical interventions such as injections and AREDS 2 vitamins can help to slow the progression of the disease. It is vital for people to get their vision checked regularly and report any issues or changes to their optometrist.

If you have any questions or concerns about your vision, please visit to chat with one of our associates.

Losing My Sight, but Not My Vision.

By Diana-Marie Soto, 2021 IFB Solutions Employee of the Year.

Leer en español.

Only one year into my young life I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and nystagmus. Finally, there was an explanation for my dancing eyes and an answer to why, no matter how much my mom moved me away from the TV, I always ended up in front of it again, blocking everyone’s view.  My family supported my adventures, but they worried about my vision and school. Not only did I have to deal with bullies, but I also had to focus on studies with no tools to help me see. I had to learn to be intuitive and to sharpen my reflexes.

Photo of Diana in office
Diana-Marie Soto

Thanks to God and my family, I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic studies. I got married and had two children. I moved my family to Florida from Puerto Rico and lived with my stepmother and my dad until we found jobs. I learned English by immersing myself in the language and eventually got a job as a Spanish instructor. However, I wanted more!

After joining IFB Solutions, the country’s largest employer of people who are blind, I knew I had been blessed with an amazing opportunity for my career. I work in IFB’s manufacturing division creating products for the U.S. Armed Forces. I volunteer with children who are blind in IFB’s S.E.E. program and I’m a writer for IFB’s Insider newsletter. I am pleased to contribute positively to my work community.  I hope that my contribution will serve as a reference to continue planting new seeds in my professional life. Even though I have lost some of my sight, I will never lose my vision for a fulfilling future.


Perdiendo mi vista, pero no mi visión.

Diana-Marie Soto, Empleada del Año de IFB Solutions, 2021

Solo a un año de vida me diagnosticaron retinitis pigmentosa y nistagmus. Finalmente, hubo una explicación para mis ojos danzantes y una respuesta al por qué, sin importar cuánto me alejara mi mamá del televisor, siempre terminaba nuevamente frente a él, bloqueando la vista de todos. Mi familia apoyó mis aventuras, pero les preocupaba mi poca vista y la escuela. No solo tuve que lidiar con los niños problemáticos, sino que también tuve que concentrarme en estudiar sin herramientas que me facilitaran el aprendisaje. Tuve que aprender a ser intuitiva y a agudizar mis reflejos.

Photo of Diana in office
Diana-Marie Soto

Gracias a Dios y a mi familia me gradué de la Universidad de Puerto Rico con una licenciatura en estudios hispanicos. Me casé y tuve dos hijos. Luego me mudé con mi familia a Florida desde Puerto Rico y viví con mi madrastra y mi papá hasta que encontramos trabajo. Aprendí inglés sumergiéndome en el idioma y finalmente conseguí empleo como profesora de español. Sin embargo, ¡quería más!

Después de unirme a IFB Solutions, el mayor empleador de personas ciegas del país, supe que había sido bendecida con una fabulosa oportunidad para mi carrera. Trabajo en la división de fabricación de IFB manufacturando productos para las Fuerzas Armadas de EE. UU. Soy voluntaria con niños ciegos en el programa de IFB, S.E.E. y soy redactora del boletín informativo de la compañía, The Insiders. Me complace contribuir positivamente a mi comunidad laboral. Espero que mi aporte sirva de referencia para seguir sembrando nuevas semillas en mi vida profesional. Aunque he perdido parte de la vista, Nunca perderé mi visión por un futuro brillante.