Outlook Nebraska is a nonprofit organization serving people who are visually impaired. The mission of Outlook Nebraska is to positively impact everyone who is blind and visually impaired. We achieve this through employment and enrichment programs geared toward helping those we serve achieve increased personal independence and employability. We hire people who are blind, offer free adaptive technology training, recreation and cultural activities to all our neighbors with vision loss or blindness.
There are over 15,000 individuals in the metro area that are visually impaired or blind.
With an aging population and a diabesity epidemic, blindness rates in the United States are increasing.
Our programs include:
Employment opportunities - Outlook Nebraska (Outlook) employs a workforce of people who are visually impaired throughout the organization, from information technology to manufacturing and accounting to vocational training services. About 60% of our associates have a vision impairment. Outlook operates a manufacturing facility that produces toilet tissue and paper towels. More than 75% of the workforce engaged in the production of these products is legally blind, meeting the guidelines of the Javits, Wagner, O'Day Act and qualifying our products for mandatory preferential status for federal government purchase. Outlook Nebraska is the largest employer of the blind in Nebraska.
Enrichment programs assist members of our community who are dealing with vision loss to learn new ways to overcome their challenges, develop new skills, gain additional confidence in their capabilities, and experience greater personal independence and help the public to better understand the needs of the visually impaired, creating a more inclusive community. Outlook understands the importance of mental and physical health, which is why we offer a continuum of programs within these core functional themes:
Adaptive technology training enables a person to overcome vision limitations with technology tools and software enhancements. Outlook offers free adaptive technology training to help people who are visually impaired utilize computers, tablets, smart phones and other devices to achieve their professional and personal goals. Outlook also acquires samples of the latest adaptive technology, like eSight or NuEyes digital eyewear and portable magnification devices, to offer opportunities for visually impaired individuals to personally try the products. Outlook is one of only a handful of locations in the United States where one can try these new technologies.
Recreational activities offer the blind and visually impaired an opportunity to safely engage in exciting recreational adventures. Outlook coordinates monthly recreational outings for blind teens, co-sponsors a week-long residential camp for blind children, and hosts recreational leagues for varying age groups. At these events, specialists also train volunteers like PE teachers and parents in adaptive sports techniques.
Culture is a major part of many people's lives. Our cultural engagement programs enable the blind and visually impaired to partake in our region's amazing arts community. Outlook offers Audio Description in partnership with many area venues to enable the blind and visually impaired to experience live theater performances. Outlook partners with other organizations in the area to offer Sensory Art Workshops that enable the blind and visually impaired to experience tactile drawing, clay sculpture and pottery, weaving and create their own works of art. Offering these art workshops also creates a positive social environment and provides inclusion for all types of vision loss.
Community education programs focus on building awareness of the capabilities of the blind and visually impaired and of the resources available to help the blind and visually impaired lead more independent lives. Outlook collaborates with other nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, medical professionals, universities, and organizations that serve those who are experiencing vision loss to help them find the help they need to achieve their personal goals. Outlook leads the Coalition of Vision Resources, an assembly of dozens of local organizations that serve the blind and visually impaired, to collaborate on projects, advocacy issues, and help our blind neighbors through referrals across the network. Outlook hosts the region's only Visually Impaired Community Resource Fair. We view blindness, not as a disability, but rather a challenge, that can be overcome through resources and training. We coordinate multiple tours, corporate team-building experiences, and other activities to educate the sighted public on issues related to blindness.
Outlook Nebraska also provides translation for the deaf and hard of hearing, along with non-English speakers.
"The career at Outlook Nebraska makes it possible for me to support my family."-Johnny Botsford
"When I first came to Outlook Nebraska, I had no clue about my future. Now, I know my future can be whatever I make it."-Katie Larson
"The skills I learned through the Education and Training Program made it possible for me to use the computer independently and to take online business classes. If I had not received this training, I would not be able to use the computer at all."-Kenny Blackman
Youth Recreation Participants
Child participant: "It has taught me to never give up. Sometimes, we try something new, and it isn't easy at first, but if we keep practicing, we can get better and better at it. I have also learned that visually impaired people can still play sports and do many activities even though they may not see well.
Blind Child's mother: "Camp Abilities has been a great place for my daughter to learn about herself and grow within an extremely supportive environment. It has given her the confidence to try new things and overcome fears. Every year she goes, she comes back having palpably grown in ways that prepare her for the future."
Adaptive Technology Training
"Now that I know how to use my phone, I feel more confident when it comes to technology," she said. "I can interact with others and communicate more effectively, just like everyone else."- Blind Middle School student in adaptive tech training
Marilyn's Story - Adaptive Technology Trainee
Marilyn is 80 years old and fiercely independent. Despite serious vision loss due to macular degeneration and some hearing loss, she lives alone in south Omaha. When she first asked Outlook for help she was hoping a screen magnifier would enable her to read her computer screen again. The State Commission for the Blind had sent her some software, but she had no idea how to load it. Even with the magnification software loaded, however, Marilyn's vision was too poor to read a single letter. Outlook trainers quickly reassured her; however, that voice-over technology would allow her to do even more than a screen magnifier. Marilyn was introduced to the world of the iPhone and her eyes lit up!
Twice a week, for several months, Marilyn made her way to Outlook's Education and Training Center to learn about how to work an iPhone even though she couldn't read anything on the screen. She met one-on-one with her Outlook trainer learning the gestures and commands it would take to use a smart phone, first practicing on an ipod to build her confidence. The day she finally purchased her own iPhone, she was giddy with excitement. She asked Siri any question she could think of. She loved the music apps that played any type of music on request. She figured out how to take videos and sound recordings on her own. She learned to leave herself audio messages so no longer scribbled on scraps of paper and asking others to read them for her. She set the alarms for pill reminders and appointments. She listens to navigation apps tell her where she is when riding the bus so she knows when to get off. She called friends via her contacts just to tell them how she did it. She was the center of attention at her local senior center. Most importantly, Marilyn was now safer than ever, with a capacity to get information and call for help both at home and when she was out in the community.
Outlook also ensured that Marilyn was connected with other organizations that could provide services for her including the Adaptive Technology Partnership so she could get a CCTV and hearing aids. "My whole world has opened up thanks to Outlook!" she exclaimed.