Largest employer for blind changing gears on manufacturing products

Health

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Elmer Norton is a 20-year employee at NewView Oklahoma. A job he found as a teenager.

“Out of high school in a tour and pretty much this is where I met people like me that are legally blind, and this has been my home ever since,” Elmer Norton, employee at NewView Oklahoma said.

He’s the supervisor for the first aid kits made at the manufacturing plant, and right now the coronavirus pandemic has them extremely busy.

“It’s pretty much tripled, our volume is. We went from let’s say 500 to 1,500 certain first aid kits that we make,” NewView Oklahoma President Lauren Branch said.

The 70-year-old organization manufactures several items for the U.S. government, including shower curtains made for hospitals and prisons. Now they’re being made for more uses.

“In our vinyl department, we’re repurposing our shower curtains as temporary as barriers, and are working with some companies to produce larger barriers,” Branch said.

Soon, they’ll start making face shields.

While most of NewView’s workers are blind or visually impaired, they’re also hiring displaced workers like Bailey McMahan in customer service.

“I was a private chef, and as we know the food and beverage industries tanking right now, but you never really think that industries going to be hurt in any sort of catastrophe. You think people have got to eat,” McMahan said.

McMahan is one of several displaced employees with a new mission at NewView.

“It really has changed the face of what we’re doing in the manufacturing department for the short term, and we’re hoping that this is going to start transitioning into long term business and capabilities,” Branch said.

NewView also does temperature checks on employees every day, and the employees have to sanitize their hands every hour at work.

For more information on NewView, visit www.newviewoklahoma.org.

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