Kansas factory finds success with blind workers, but obstacles remain

For 20 years — ever since the day the plant opened — Patrick Bobino has reported to work at Envision in the Kansas City, Kan., Fairfax Industrial District.

Currently he helps package trash can liners sold to the U.S. government.

"You never know who is going to use it," Bobino, 67, said of the bags he has touched. "It might even be in the president's office."

Bobino, 67, is legally blind, as are most of his co-workers. They feed rolls of plastic cylinders through machines that slice and seal them into bags from 10-gallon to 50-gallon size, pack the bags into cardboard boxes, stack the boxes on pallets and shrink-wrap the pallets for shipping.

Plant manager Glenn Coy said you would find Envision bags on submarines and aircraft carriers, and in government offices and universities around the globe.

The business — and Envision is very, very busy — is due to a General Services Administration contract and the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act, which mandated that federal institutions make certain purchases from nonprofit agencies that employ people with disabilities.

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