February is Low Vision Awareness Month. Through various UA endeavors, including the University Enable Program, two employees have been given the tools to succeed despite the challenges of low vision.
Todd Copeland has dealt with numerous eye complications since he was born including retinal scaring and glaucoma. Since starting with UA Human Resources in 2005, his vision has progressively worsened over time.
Two years into his career with the University, Copeland’s vision deteriorated to the point where he could no longer drive a car.
Despite his obstacles, Copeland has still been able to fully perform his job with the help of technology provided by UA and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. He uses ZoomText to magnify and manipulate his computer screen as well as read long text when needed.
“The University’s willingness to accommodate me with not only the tools, but also the schedule and flexibility when I was no longer able to drive, has been great,” said Copeland, who is now a senior human resources business partner.
Through his work with Human Resources, Copeland has been able to collaborate with the University Enable Program led by Jaime Mitchell. The University Enable Program, which led UA to be recognized as the Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities Large Business Employer of the Year in fall 2022, aims to provide a work-based learning experience for individuals with disabilities within various university departments.
“The program has given employees with similar issues additional assistance and resources when available,” said Copeland.
Not long after the program developed its Work Based Learning Experience initiative, Copeland was connected to Simon Bowman through a friend.
Bowman has experienced progressive vision loss over the years due to various complications. With the help of his companion, Katniss, Bowman hasn’t let his low vision slow him down. In 2020, he graduated with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business administration from William Carey University.
But Bowman found the job market to be challenging given his needed accommodations and the COVID-19 pandemic.
While working through the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and Easter Seals to help with his job prospects, Bowman was connected to Copeland through a friend. From there, he was introduced to UA’s Work Based Learning Experience.
“Jaime really got things rolling once I told her what I was looking for,” said Bowman. “She was able to find me an opportunity with the Division of Advancement fairly quickly and she has been wonderful ever since.”
Bowman started his training with the Office of Advancement Services in January 2021. He utilizes Fusion, a program that allows for screen magnification and enhancements as well as a reading functionality, to complete his work.
Six weeks after he started the Work Based Learning Experience program, Bowman was offered a position as a records management analyst. He continues to enjoy his work and appreciates what the University does to accommodate those in similar situations.
“The work environment and my colleagues have been great since I started at UA,” said Bowman. “Everyone is very understanding, and they do everything they can to help me succeed.”
If you would like information regarding technology that may be available to assist with low vision, contact Jaime Mitchell at email@example.com.
Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org