Sensory Access Foundation

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Sensory Access Foundation
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Sensory Access Foundation’s mission is to assist people who are blind or visually impaired to obtain or retain competitive employment by providing the highest quality access technology assessment, computer training, job placement and accommodation services with the goal of achieving 100% job retention.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Microsoft technology has directly enhanced Sensory Access Foundation’s (SAF) mission. SAF believes productive, competitive employment is an important ingredient in a fulfilling life, allowing for financial independence and a sense of contribution to the community. SAF trains individuals who are blind or visually impaired to use mainstream and access technology hardware and software so they can be competitive in the workforce.

Up until 30 years ago, there was very little technology that would allow someone who was blind or visually impaired to work competitively. Technology has been the equalizer that has allowed a small portion of this population to become self-supporting. SAF is one of only a handful of agencies in the U.S. that addresses the technology issues of the blind and visually impaired population and has successfully assisted thousands of individuals to obtain or retain their employment.

The donation program created by Microsoft and administered through Techsoup has had an enormous impact on SAF in terms of quantity of service, new services, and outreach. Because we train individuals to work competitively in the business world, SAF must train them on the latest software used by businesses today. Prior to the partnership, SAF could only afford to regularly update the software in our state-of-the-art training labs. Staff computers were updated piece meal as funds were available. Through our partnership with Microsoft/Techsoup, SAF has been able to purchase enough licenses so that all of our staff (who were using three different versions of Microsoft Office software and having difficulty sharing files and communicating), now use the latest MS software. It makes our agency much more efficient and communication much more effective within the agency and to our outside constituents. For example, SAF can now use e-mail and our website to provide donor and event information much more quickly and effectively to our donors. Articles can be shared with various staff members for editing and proofing before publication or being sent electronically to donors.

Among SAF’s most important and valuable services, are our computer assessment and training programs. Our four labs contain a number of computers for class room trainings and assessments. Industry dictates that the following skills are essential for success in today’s competitive job market: navigating in Windows XP or Vista environment effectively and efficiently; editing and formatting in MS Word; using MS Outlook for email and contact management; accessing information with Internet Explorer through Internet websites and search engines; and using databases. Thus, SAF clients are trained in the latest programs, as needed for their employment goals: MS Word, MS Excel, MS Outlook, MS PowerPoint, MS Access, and Windows Internet Explorer. Due to increased licenses, we also increased the number of lab computers and clients trained. SAF also uses two of our labs to provide lab tours to the public in order to raise awareness.

Because of the affordability of the software, SAF has been able to purchase enough licenses to set up computers for clients to practice what they have learned in the classroom, work on their resumes, and conduct Internet job searches. This is especially helpful for clients who do not own their own computers.

Due to our financial ability to purchase additional licenses, SAF was also able to expand our services by purchasing a number of laptop computers to conduct on-site assessments and trainings–going to the client’s workplace or home. This is much more efficient than taking a computer from the lab on site, and makes us much more mobile and accessible.

SAF has developed accessible curricula and web based tutorials (based on SAF’s award winning service delivery model) to provide clients, staff and other organizations the tools that assist them to lower unemployment rates for people who are blind or visually impaired. Our “Jobs Made Accessible” module shows clients, employers, and the community at large the technology used to make jobs accessible (

The Windows Server software and licenses allowed SAF to update our server capability and allow remote access for staff to be able to work at home, including accessing the client and donor databases. Additionally, we have been able to expand our capabilities to begin using technology to train clients remotely and troubleshoot their computers remotely.

Microsoft’s technology has definitely optimized SAF’s mission delivery and increased the effectiveness of our organization. It is a vital and integral part of SAF’s service delivery and programs.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
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OST lab photo.jpg
Supporting Work Files
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