The innovation at NewView Oklahoma, the largest employer of blind and low-vision individuals in Oklahoma providing both rehabilitation services and employment to people with vision loss, is fueling some rapid growth: Since 2020, requests for NewView Oklahoma’s services have increased by 28 percent. And the increase in services is matched by an increase in rev- enue from $32.9 million in 2020 to $39.9 million in 2021 through diversifying revenue streams, pivoting to evolve services to better meet community needs and increased donations.
“We’ve taken the position that we need to be early adopters and adapters,” said Lauren Branch, NewView Oklahoma president and CEO. “NVO is consistently evaluating the future and casting a vision for what is next, and they have adopted a culture that focuses on creative problem solving. At NewView, nothing is impossible, but getting where you are trying to go might require some creativity.”
Providing an accessible workplace, where approximately half of all employees are living with a disability of some sort, requires innovation: Like the pressure buzzes on firehoses the company manufactures. In 2000, NewView earned a contract with the U.S. Forest Service, and they are still the sole provider of fire hoses today. NewView worked with the manufacturer to add an auditory notification that actually proved to be more accurate for testing than the traditional visual reading had been.
“The manufacturer of that device now incorporates the auditory notification for all their customers,” she said. “Our adaptations have created ‘Aha!’ moments that have influenced our industry through systems that can be replicated and implemented elsewhere.”
Talent and Workforce Innovator of the Year Finalists: