Lean In! is a Job Readiness and Work-based learning program directed at Blind and Low-Vision post-secondary individuals in achieving independence through long-term employment. Lean In! is an integrated service which includes Job Readiness activities during the school year followed by Paid Internships over the Summer. The program is developed, facilitated, and managed by Blind and Low-Vision mentors in a group environment to encourage trust and provide real exemplars.

The Lean In! Program offers an opportunity to Employers to promote diversity within their organizations while providing an opportunity to a population underrepresented in the private sector. Vanward strives to increase awareness of the capabilities and value of employing Blind and Low Vision individuals. Increasing the population of Blind and Low vision employees working side by side with their abled cohorts will undoubtedly advance this mission.

Now is the Time for Lean In! Recent developments in the American economy and Society have signaled that the time is right for a program like Lean In!  Consider the following:
  • The response to COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to virtual work and the “Gig Economy.” This development serves as a force multiplier for those with impairments.
  • In response to consumer scrutiny, private sector companies have increased community outreach and diversity inside and outside their walls.
  • Technological advances such as smart phones, screen readers, voice-activated appliances, and other smart devices have enabled those with impairments to not only survive but thrive in their careers.

These developments have increased the efficacy of utilizing the 69 percent unemployed B/LV population.

What are the Benefits to Participation in Lean In!

Companies that choose to participate in the Lean In! Program will benefit in tangible and intangible ways, including:

  • Employing a talented resource that is enthusiastic about their career trajectory and committed to adding value to any organization they support.
  • Promoting awareness of the capabilities of those with disabilities.
  • Recognition for their commitment to diversity and community outreach.
  • Leveraging a talent pipeline of workers with disabilities.
The Lean In! Program affords its corporate partners the opportunity to do good while doing well.

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  Employers’ Resources Mississippi State University National Technical Assistive Technology Center (NTAC) Mississippi State University has done over 50 years of research on blindness and employment.  Click here to view information and FAQs around employing people with visual impairments. Employers may take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) equal to the amount of their employer payroll taxes (Medicare and Social Security.)
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