Fighting to remain open

IFB Optical, which fills prescriptions for more than 240,000 veterans annually, could be affected by a lawsuit over AbilityOne contracts.

Fighting to remain open
December 15
08:30 2016

Photos by Todd Luck

Job of historic visually impaired person in jeopardy



IFB Solutions (formerly Industries for the Blind) is currently taking court action to protect its contract to provide eyeglasses to veterans.

IFB Optical has had a contract with Veterans Affairs for 16 years. It currently fills eyeglass prescriptions to 38 VA hospitals and serves more than 240,000 veterans annually. IFB got the contract as an AbilityOne organization that provides employment to people who are blind or visually impaired.

PDS Consultants, a veteran-owned New Jersey company, filed a suit in August over its consideration in the AbilityOne program, asking for an injunction on VA optical contracts. According to IFB, this would essentially shutdown their optical laboratory.

“We’re participating in a vigorous defense with the Department of Veterans Affairs, who of course, feels that they are properly awarding contracts,” said IFB COO Dan Kelly.

IFB Optical has 88 employees, including 45 who are blind and seven veterans. These employees include Damarrious Bowens, who recently became one of only three visually impaired people in the country to earn American Board of Opticianry  (ABO) certification.

Bowens has been an employee at IFB for five years. He’s worked in different departments doing many different jobs before joining customer service in IFB Optical. He currently reviews incoming orders to ensure their accuracy using technology to greatly magnify the words on costumer paperwork and his screen.

Bowens studied for hours a day for three months for the certification test, which he passed on the first try. He’s currently helping others get their certification. He’s preparing nine other IFB employees, including three blind employees, for the test with weekly review sessions and a study guide he prepared himself.

Bowens said he’s glad to be an IFB employee, and the lawsuit possibly shutting IFB Optical worries him.

“It makes me uneasy because I’m working very hard at the job I’m doing and I have the opportunity to grow at this job,” he said.

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors