The mission of the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) is to prepare blind and visually impaired individuals (BVI) with information technology (IT) and other in-demand skills and support the employers who hire them for success in the workplace.
Since its inception in 2013, BIT's vision has been to help reduce the excessively high unemployment rate among the BVI population. In a short amount of time BIT has provided job preparation services to more than 500 BVI candidates and successfully placed more than 100 BVIs in meaningful employment.
Preparation and staffing services focus on IT and other technical positions, with candidates placed in healthcare, financial services, technology, government, and other Colorado state priority sectors. BIT has also reached 4,000 community and company individuals participating in BIT educational sessions, Art of Blinders, which helps increase awareness and inclusivity in the workplace. In 2017, BIT was recognized with a Martin Luther King Business Award and a first ever Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Shining Stars of VR award. The award honors people and organizations moving the needle in reshaping the employment landscape for people living with disabilities.
In 2018 and 2019 BIT sponsored a technology symposium to highlight the role that accessibility has in the workplace not just for BVIs, but for workers of all abilities with guest speakers sharing their knowledge and experiences. In 2019, BIT launched its signature "LittleBIT" Program to work with school districts to make the educational setting accessible and conducive to learning for BVI youth K-12 through assistive technologies so these students have the same academic potential as their sighted peers.
Also in 2019 The EdgGuide micronavigation technology was developed through a joint collaboration between Blind Institute of Technology, CACI, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. It is now live and available for the public to try out at the Museum. It helps BVIs navigate confusing and challenging public spaces such as airports and museums thereby facilitating greater BVI independence.
In 2019 Mike was recognized as an Inclusive Leader in the Nonprofit sector at the GlobalMindED conference. His impact among many leaders who are making a difference for women, people of color, First Gen to College, and underrepresented populations is certainly award material. The conference focuses on the leaders on the ground who work with others to create equity across the education, employment, and economic mobility pipeline. Also in 2019, BIT staff spoke at at the Think Big: Move Mountains Conference in Vail, Colorado. Hosted by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, they shared the successes of BIT's joint venture with the St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD) over the summer in which BIT trained high school students of SVVSD to become proficient accessibility auditors and internal accessibility experts for the District.
In addition, Mike was selected as a speaker at the 2019 Colorado Smart Cities Symposium hosted by the Colorado Technology Association. Smarter communities hold the promise of not just making communities more efficient but also improving quality of life. Mike, along with fellow panelists, explored strategies that ensure these benefits are equitable across all citizens. He was also a presenter at Denver Startup Week and showcased the new EdgGuide technology at a workshop presentation for the first time. In July 2020, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Mike was named to Diversability's inaugural 2020 D-30 Disability Impact List.
"Thank God, someone gets it: an organization whose
goal is to knock down the barriers to employment that people with vision impairment experience. There is no one doing what BIT is doing. Their coaching and interview practice is what I needed. BIT's feedback was so different and so specialized that it was the turning point for me. I am very thankful for BIT and how they challenge me." -Jessica L
"BIT has given me the tools, opportunities and support that's made it possible to contribute meaningful work to the accessibility space. I'm working to make health care technology better for all people. BIT is disrupting the hiring pool and creating a workforce of highly talented experts. It's a simple concept with a monumental impact for the individuals, the community and the economy." - Anna T.
"BIT gave me self confidence and taught me not to
be ashamed or embarrassed of my disability. Instead, I learned how it is a strength, not a hindrance. I can still do a lot and have a successful career. Having a mentor made a big difference." - Eric A.