Using Technology to Help Visually Impaired Warehouse Workers

Oct. 9, 2019
Zebra Technology customized the solutions for the company's visually-impaired workers with large characters, color coding and voice-directed picking.

North Central Sight Services (NCCS), whose mission is to provide products, services and employment opportunities to the blind and visually impaired, recently modernized its warehouse operations to accommodate worker needs.

NCCS employs 29 visually impaired workers including its CEO.

NCSS workers count, package and ship AbilityOne office supplies, flash drives, labels and CD/DVD packs as part of a program under the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. 

To assist workers Zebra Technologies with partner CSSI,  integrated its WMS solution with Zebra’s MC3300 mobile computers. It also customized the solutions with large characters, color coding and voice-directed picking to help visually impaired employees.

“The solution has helped us modernize our warehouse from a manual-based process to an automated one that has increased worker productivity and picking accuracy which has led to the near elimination of returns,” said Terri Kio, Industry Operations Manager, North Central Sight Services. “Working with companies like Zebra and CSSI who are committed to helping visually impaired staff has made a measurable difference in our business with the technology and by making our staff feel supported in their careers.”

WMS by CSSI standardizes about 80%t of the functionality on the MC3300 mobile computer, and CSSI customizes the other 20% for each customer.  For the NCSS deployment, CSSI enlarged and color-coded text on the MC3300 mobile computers and created “success” and “error” notifications that appear in green or red text respectively along with audible notifications. 

“This technology makes a difference for employees in NCCS’s workplace while improving business processes and preparing for the warehouse of the future.” said Joe Tosolt, President of CSSI

According to Zebra’s 2024 Warehousing Vision Study, 83 percent of respondents are currently or planning to use Android operating system in the warehouse by 2024. Technical support for Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 ends in 2020 and Windows CE7 ends in 2021, which means companies will no longer have access to security patches and bug fixes for the devices running these legacy operating systems and should transition to new mobile computers running a modern mobile operating system. Businesses like NCSS are modernizing their warehouses with Zebra’s latest Android-based mobile computers and benefitting from its ergonomic design, Mobility DNA software and features like LifeGuard for Android, which provides software and security support for up to 10 years, helping elevate the performance of front-line workers of all abilities.

“Zebra designs products with an ‘accessible-first’ approach,” said James Morley-Smith, Global Director of User Experience Design, Zebra Technologies. “This allows us to provide an improved user experience for all end-users – from those with disabilities like complete loss of sight to those with situational impairments like bulky work gloves. Zebra is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, and we support NCSS’ mission to help the blind and visually impaired.” 

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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