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Expanded contract creates jobs at CABVI

UTICA — An expanded contract with a federal agency will lead to 18 new jobs at the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) in Utica.

“Our primary objective is to try to create employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired,” says Stephen Gannon, director of development. “This contract is right up that alley.”

The contract is with a federal agency and requires CABVI’s customer service representatives to verify, track, and report customer compliance with certain federal regulations. The expanded contract is now valued at $7.5 million over five years.


When the contract originated two years ago, it created 15 positions at CABVI to handle about 75,000 inbound and outbound calls for the federal agency, Gannon says. He declined to identify the agency for confidentiality reasons.

The actual call volume, however, was much higher than originally anticipated, Gannon says. In fact, the call volume was about double what was projected and totaled about 150,000 calls annually. The result is that the federal agency doubled the value of the contract and also extended the life of the contract.

The 18 new jobs, most of which will go to blind and visually impaired people, will boost efficiency at the call center, driving down wait time for callers and allowing CABVI to serve more people annually, Ryan Eddy, call center manager, said in a release. Eddy is currently training several new hires and is looking for more employees to fill those job openings.

The jobs are good-paying jobs, Gannon says. 

“These are federal wages and federal benefits,” he says.

CABVI opened its call center in 2010, and its customer service representatives make calls to clients of the federal agency and guide them through a certification process. Clients are also able to contact the call center to fulfill their obligations or receive information.

The new jobs boost CABVI’s total employment to 220, an increase of 86 employees since 2005. Of those numbers, 91 workers are blind or visually impaired. 

Creating employment opportunities for those with visual impairments is crucial, Gannon says, as the national unemployment rate for the blind and visually impaired hovers at around 70 percent. 

There are any number of barriers that can prevent those with visual impairments from obtaining employment, Gannon says. It could be as simple as needing transportation or as complex as an employer needing assistance in providing training and adaptive equipment for a visually impaired worker.

That’s where organizations such as CABVI step in to work with employers who want to hire those who are visually impaired, assist visually impaired workers who work for outside employers, or provide employment opportunities for those with visual impairments within CABVI ( 

Central Industries, CABVI’s integrated manufacturing and services division, employs 124 workers. CABVI also operates a call center at the S.S. Stratton Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Albany. CABVI provides vision rehabilitation services in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Fulton, Lewis, Montgomery, northern Otsego, and Jefferson counties.       


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