OKLAHOMA CITY - Suffering from a visual impairment can be a devastating diagnosis for some, but many Oklahomans aren't letting issues with their sight get in their way.
"When you're legally blind, they immediately put limitations on you as far as what you can do, what you can get done, what you're able to accomplish and learn,” said Dale Shawn, the hose department manager at NewView Oklahoma.
Last year, Shawn was heading to a job interview at a coffee shop. While on the bus, he met a man who told him to apply for a job at NewView.
NewView Oklahoma is a nonprofit organization that employs visually impaired and blind residents.
"We have people here who literally sat at home for years, and this is their first job and they're finally able to earn a living,” said Lauren Branch, the president and CO of NewView Oklahoma.
Employees at the organization work on hospital shower curtains for the military, wheel chocks and track chocks for military tankers. The company is also the sole supplier of hoses for the U.S. Forest Service.
"Last year, we produced over 4,000 miles of hose, so our hose stretched across the United States and back to Oklahoma City. Lots and lots of hose come out of this facility,” Branch said.
Recently, the group was awarded two, five-year contracts worth $94 million to provide hoses for the U.S. Forest Service, which is the largest contract ever awarded to the organization.
Organizers said the new contract with the Department of Defense will go far in producing the lifesaving material.
"I am literally ensuring that this will save a life," Shawn said.