Making a Difference in Mississippi: MISSISSIPPI INDUSTRIES FOR THE BLIND

By admin
November 15, 2017

A Vision of Independence and Self-Reliance

*WB.MIB.Newsletter_Gerone2In 1942 Mississippi Industries for the Blind (MIB) was established to employ and train individuals with visual impairments, and in doing so provide opportunities for financial independence and overall self-sufficiency.

The need for organizations providing employment opportunities for people who are blind is real and serious. Currently, approximately 70% of working age people who are blind are unemployed.

For over seventy-five years, MIB has been the workplace of thousands of Mississippians who are visually impaired. MIB has earned its place as a respected member of the state’s manufacturing industry, selling a variety of products and offering services to national and state agencies and organizations. In addition to the original facility located in Jackson, MIB opened a satellite facility in Meridian in the 1980s, which specializes in metal works, offering employment opportunities for the blind community in the eastern portion of the state. MIB is an agency of the State of Mississippi and all MIB employees receive full state benefits, such as retirement, health and life insurance and personal and sick leave.

MIB Products and Services

Today, MIB is a leading employer of Mississippians who are blind. The employment opportunities it affords are at all levels of the organization from direct labor manufacturing jobs to service jobs and management positions. It offers a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, products and services, such as several models of industrial strength ratchet straps of varying sizes and breaking strengths, as well as professional grade fire fighting tools, and heavy-duty Military-Spec booster cables. MIB also manufactures sewn products such as barracks bags and bandoleer pouches, both for the U.S. military. The barracks bag is a product that MIB has manufactured since the 1950’s, and is the only manufacturer of this item for the U.S. government. Another product MIB manufactures is the cellulose sponge. Sponge products include plain sponges in various sizes and 3 different scrubber sponge products. In the Meridian facility, MIB performs metal stamping, robotic welding and other metal working and finishing operations such as metal rod bending, drilling and riveting, and shot blasting.

*WB.MIB2MIB also performs services such as document imaging and full-service document conversion to convert printed documents to digital files. MIB’s most recent service addition is a full service contact center that can handle both in-bound and out-bound calls and other types of communications. Advanced computer software such as screen magnification and screen reading has opened these types of employment opportunities up to people with a visual impairment. Among its customers are the Department of Defense, U.S. Postal Service, General Services Administration, the U.S. Forestry Services and the Department of Agriculture, as well as agencies of the State of Mississippi and commercial organizations.

In addition to its manufacturing arm, MIB offers a Low Vision Store, which carries a variety of products to assist the vision impaired. Vision loss of any kind compromises one’s ability to perform basic tasks of everyday living, such as reading, writing, cooking, watching television and driving. Advances in the design and availability of assistive technologies have revolutionized living and learning with vision loss. From voting to taking public transit, people affected by blindness or visual impairment can live more independently, pursue a broad range of education and employment opportunities and lead fulfilled, empowered and productive lives.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe MIB Foundation

Despite being an agency of State government, MIB receives no regular appropriations from the Mississippi Legislature. It funds its operations and employment through the sale of the products it manufactures and other services it provides. The MIB Foundation for the Blind & Visually Impaired, an independent 501C (3) non profit organization, was created in 2010 to bring awareness to the opportunities available for employment and volunteerism at MIB, while also raising additional financial support for its programs and services, including the purchase of adaptive equipment and implementation of education and training programs. Through donations to the MIB Foundation, MIB has been able to establish a computer training lab for its employees and has purchased numerous computer programs and manufacturing equipment to make jobs available to people who are blind.

Currently, the Foundation is working to fund the purchase of electronic glasses, or e-glasses for MIB employees with low vision to use both at work and home. The Foundation sponsors events throughout the calendar year, including one such event held this October, the 5th annual “Wine with the Blind” Wine-Tasting Fundraiser. In addition, the Foundation is involved in other local events and in numerous community outreach efforts including a blog, a presence on social media and involvement with the Lions Club of Jackson.

For anyone who is interested in contributing to the MIB Foundation, donations can be made online at mibfoundation.org, as a one-time gift, a reoccurring gift (monthly, quarterly or annually), in memory or in honor of a loved one, or by bequest. One may also send a financial contribution by mail to the MIB Foundation at 2501 N. West Street in Jackson, 39216.

Interested in contributing your time? MIB has an active volunteer program. Volunteers assist in the Low Vision Store, during Foundation events, at Health Fairs in the community, and as a part of the social media campaigns and other advocacy efforts. Interested parties should call 601-984-3264 or visit www.mibfoundation.org/volunteer/.

*WB.MIB3By accepting donations, hosting fundraisers, attending health fairs, visiting assisted-living centers, and creating community outreach programs, the MIB Foundation hopes to expand vocational and educational opportunities for people affected by blindness or visual impairment in Mississippi through increased awareness of MIB and its mission.

The Vision

From the beginning, the vision of Mississippi Industries for the Blind has been to be the preferred employer of Mississippians who are blind or visually impaired throughout Mississippi. The wages paid are competitive with those of commercial organizations and the opportunities provided span all levels of the organization. Today, MIB is not only a leader in Mississippi manufacturing, but in providing information and outreach about available services, assistance and technology for the blind or visually impaired that can enhance their independence and self-reliance in their careers and personal lives. For more information regarding the products and services at MIB call 601-984-3200 or sales@msblind.org or visit msblind.org.

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