October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an opportunity to highlight the challenges of finding of job for people with disabilities. If you are blind, as I am, the unemployment rate is shockingly high — 70 percent. Imagine: Seven of every 10 persons who are blind cannot find a job.

In my case, I’ve been blind since childhood. I share a hereditary eye disease with my grandfather, father and now my young son. Both my grandfather and my father worked, and they instilled in me their same drive to pursue an education, build a career and raise a family. In many respects, I was fortunate to have their genes, because I never thought about what wasn’t possible. My focus was always on what I could accomplish.

Today, I am chief operating officer at IFB Solutions, previously known as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. We are the largest employer of people who are blind in the country, with a mission that impacts even more people through our community programs and services available to the public.

Our new name — IFB Solutions — suits our organization perfectly as we strive to create innovative solutions for people who are blind or visually impaired. We offer employment opportunities in our three manufacturing facilities, in our optical lab and at dozens of customer locations across the United States. We’re also finding jobs for people that enable them to work from home — a tremendous opportunity for people without access to transportation.

Throughout my career, I’ve been focused on creating opportunities for people who are blind. It started in high school when I responded to a job posting with a local human resources and recruiting firm. After graduating from college, I took a full-time position with that same company before joining National Industries for the Blind in 2001, where I had an opportunity to focus on employment for people with vision challenges. After earning my MBA from George Mason University, I moved to the Triad to join Greensboro Industries of the Blind before coming to my current workplace in 2007.

Like me, some of our employees at IFB Solutions come with work experience, but for the majority, we are their first job and their first opportunity to experience personal and financial independence since losing their sight. We build on this first job by providing additional solutions — training and services — to help our employees acquire new skills and pursue outside interests.