Outlook Nebraska, Inc. (ONI) COO Patrick MacBride and Information Technology Facilitator Mitch Green are discussing ONI’s expansion plans. Mitch, totally blind, knows that the changes in the building will create the need for additional cabling, the re-location of many work stations, and the possibility of purchasing additional equipment. He uses his hands to explore the 3-D model of the expansion plans during his discussion with Patrick. This model creates the same amount of excitement for both men as they talk. Many of ONI’s over 40 blind associates have been able to experience the future of ONI through this tactile image.
ONI, a charitable organization that’s the largest employer of the blind and visually impaired in Nebraska, is embarking on the largest expansion project in its history that will feature more space for education, training and community engagement to support the blind and visually impaired.
ONI leadership wanted the associates who could not see the drawings to be able to experience the model with their fingers. For this reason, they turned to Do Space’s ability to produce 3d-printed pictures.
Donna Faust Aman, Director of Marketing at ONI and Susanne Waltermeyer, ONI’s Executive Assistant, met with Scott Heaney from the Schemmer Associates and Brian Sarnacki of Do Space to view samples of 3D printing. To make the model large enough for ONI’s associates to feel the details, the team decided to print it in six 8”x8” sections, the maximum segment size that DoSpace could print at the time. Various heights and textures were used so that blind associates could feel the difference between stairs, open areas and walls.
Not only were the associates able to listen to ONI CEO Eric Stueckrath describe the doors that this expansion will open for the Omaha community, but they were able to interact with a physical model that allowed them to form their own mental images of this future. Technology is continuing to place blind and visually impaired on level ground with their sighted peers.
Once finished, the expansion will triple ONI’s capacity to provide adaptive technology training so that more individuals who are experiencing vision loss may gain independence and achieve their life goals. Plans for a community space are also featured in the expansion, which will allow ONI to accommodate large groups for educational programs that increase awareness of the capabilities of the blind and the availability of adaptive technology among community and business leaders. ONI’s programs serve the visually impaired of all ages through employment, technology training and cultural and recreational activities. The building expansion project and community programs are supported by private donations.
For more information please visit outlooknebraska.org.